Tag Archives: Christmas cakes

Sundora ‘Panettone’

Edit : Links in this post that link to Dan Lepard’s forum won’t work as the forum doesn’t exist anymore.

Two years ago now I made panettone (pre my blog)  with a specially fed and nurtured starter. You can read about what I got up to and see the pics of mine and other people’s attempts if you visit Dan’s forum and read this  bake-off thread started at the behest of my friend Minadott. There are additional links to panettone recipes in this old post which I updated yesterday.

As I recall, it was like having to look after a small child, up and down all night. Fine if you are a pro baker, one who does this for a living, but unless you are newly gripped by the baking obsession, which I was at the time, it does seem just a little crazy.

I can tell you it was fantastic and I was very, very proud of it and it tasted very good indeed.  It was great fun making it, especially the part where we had them all hanging upside down in the kitchen off the backs of the chairs.  I could cut and paste my old notes together but I have a policy of not writing posts about old baking, you can’t remember the details and it’s a very long recipe to read and absorb. Have a look at Baking Ben’s work on Dan’s forum, right at the end of the thread are pics of his last year’s panettones. They are outstanding!

Before you attempt it though, I’d like to say what I think about mixing egg yolks into flour by hand. It’s really hard to do. In fact it reduced me to tears of fury and frustration the first time I made it, and then again the second time. The egg yolks form nasty little lumps and it is a nightmare trying to squeeze and pick them out of the dough. In fact I yelled I wasn’t going to make panettone again unless I had a stand mixer. I have one now.

Fast Forward to 2011 – Last week I opened a packet of Sundora candied peel, the only brand available retail of big whole pieces of candied fruit for bakers that I have come across in the UK. The picture on the cover of the box shows a huge citron, an orange and a lemon. The contents of the box are two big bits of coarse orange candied peel, a couple of bits of lemon and a strange slice of citron. I wasn’t that impressed, but it isn’t artificially coloured and there isn’t any choice unless you make your own.

I have made my own candied peel a couple of times now.

Depending on the fruit you use and whether or not you take your eye off the peel at the last critical stage (which I did this time, oh why, oh why did I do that?) it isn’t that hard, just time consuming, which is why most people don’t do it – but it does taste really good, so do have a go if you have time.

Here’s a photo of a successful batch of home made pink grapefruit and orange candied peel being put on the rack to dry, I used Pam Corbin’s method as in the River Cottage Preserves Book.  You can see her do it here.

Having inspected the Sundora peel I turned my attention to the recipe on the side of the packet for Italian panettone and in one of those masochistic moments decided I would try it. Not quite sure why but I did.  I tweeted a couple of pics of it and Azelia has asked me to write out what I did, so here it is, a classic case of looks wonderful but isn’t all it seems.

Here is the Sundora Panettone recipe –  if you make it please be aware that it is not as good as the Milanese style one, it isn’t as rich and it stales more quickly and the texture is more like a teacake or chelsea bun dough. Having said that, if you keep it well wrapped up it should last a week or so.

You will need either a proper panettone case or two or a big deep cake tin, preferably one with a drop out bottom which you can line with paper that the cake can stick to, yes you want it to stick!

I messed up the first batch of this by following the method on the Sundora box and once again was so depressed by the quality of the dough that I decided very quickly to make a second lot and ignore their mixing instructions. By this point I had remembered I had some special osmo tolerant yeast (SAF gold) kindly sent to me by the Songthrush on Cam, which she had got from the States to go to Mick’s Bethesdabakin event in the summer.

All the artisan baking type recipes for these sorts of doughs stress that you must add the fats and the eggs etc slowly to the dough so that the yeast has a chance to cosy up to the flour and develop the gluten etc etc. The Sundora recipe wants you to cream fresh yeast and drop it ritualistically in the centre of a pile of flour and leave it there for fifteen minutes. Who knows what that is supposed to achieve?

Having already messed up one lot of dough I thought I would try it another way altogether and if it didn’t work, well it couldn’t get any worse and if it did work, the whole process would be much much easier. I’m a home baker, not a patissier after all.

My list of ingredients based on the Sundora Packet recipe

  • 2 tsps of dry SAF Gold yeast (original calls for 25 g fresh yeast)
  • 2 tsps of warm water
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 400 g of sifted plain flour ( I used Waitrose’s own brand organic plain flour)
  • Two tablespoons of caster sugar
  • 150 g of warmed semi skimmed milk
  • 1 tsp fine seasalt
  • a box of Sundora candied fruit, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon of Panettone essence (Bakery Bits) (could sub lemon essence, orange essence, which I have seen in the supermarkets plus vanilla essence, lemon zest, you’re aiming for a blended sweet citrussy vanilla taste)
  • 1 teaspoon home made vanilla extract
  • a handful of cape raisins soaked briefly in a splash of rum
  • 125 g of melted butter, slightly warm
  • 3 medium large egg yolks
  • Extra egg yolk for the egg glaze and a tablespoon of pearl sugar to sprinkle on the top

1 large panettone case

1 Kenwood mixer

I activated the yeast in a mug with the warm water and a tsp of sugar as it had been in my fridge for a while and I wasn’t sure if it was still viable.

It frothed up within about five minutes so we were on!

Into the Kenwood bowl and then I added the warmed milk, butter and eggs, Panettone essence and vanilla extract. Gave it all a quick mix together while thinking “this isn’t going to work, you’re not supposed to do it this way round.”

Into the bowl went the sifted flour, sugar and salt. Mixed away for about five minutes.

Left to prove in the bowl for an hour in a warm spot.

Came back, tipped the dough out onto a board, stretched it out, I could feel it fizzing away under my hands, so the yeast was alive and happy. Sprinkled the chopped fruit and raisins over the dough and folded it in. Kneaded it a bit, just because I felt like it and to make sure that the fruits were fairly well distributed.

Shaped the dough into a ball and dropped it in the case and went away and left it to rise, or not, as it pleased.

It rose steadily and well and once it had crested the top of the paper case, about an hour and a half later, I decided to bake it.

I brushed some beaten egg yolk over the top, made a cross cut, sprinkled some pearl sugar on for decoration and put it in the oven at 200 C which was too hot as the egg glaze went very dark very quickly.

I hastily turned it down to 190 C and then lowered it again after twenty minutes to 180 C and put a piece of baking parchment over the top. I baked it for about 50 minutes in all and this is what came out. It could maybe have done with coming out a bit earlier…

In case you were wondering about the other dough, that came out looking like the picture below (it was half the size as I made two smallish ones from the same weight of dough)  and all the nasty lumpy bits had disappeared by the time it was baked. I stuffed this one …

…. with a tub of chopped up glace cherries as Brian likes cherries and was pleasantly surprised to see they didn’t all end up at the bottom of the cake like they usually do. This first one was made with fresh yeast which definitely didn’t have the oomph of the SAF Gold, which based purely on this one experience, seems to be pretty good at handling enriched sweet doughs.

I don’t know if you can call it panettone, to me it is more like a very airy chelsea bun without all that horrible heavy sugar syrup, or maybe a not very buttery brioche or a bit like a kugelhopf, but if manners makes the man and a panettone paper case makes a panettone I guess you can call it panettone if you like.

This cake is not as rich and flaky, melt-in-the-mouth  in texture as a sourdough one. I would say they look the part and I’m very aware that if you’re reading this blog the photos are really all you have to go on, but hand on heart I wouldn’t recommend this recipe if you want something outstanding but it is still probably far nicer than some cheap as chips panettone in the supermarket and you would have made it yourself!

I’m adding this post into the blog because Azelia asked for it the other day, she thought it might be useful to see it.  For a top notch panettone you’ll have to use a sourdough starter, or an overnight biga, probably more eggs and more butter, hard fat like lard or cocoa butter and take the long haul path. I might yet do it this year, but not today!

Related Post  :  Links to Panettone Recipes – updated November 2011

Other Posts of interest : You could try this one, which is a bit simpler than panettone but sounds completely wonderful Annalisa’s Colomba