Chatelaine Kitchen

Perfect your panettone with these tips

Full of dried fruit and citrusy goodness, this sweet Italian bread is perfect to serve warm at breakfast, afternoon tea or dessert during the holidays.

Panettone is a festive Italian sweet yeast bread that is abundant during the holidays. Full of citrus and fruity goodness, this bread is perfect to serve warm at breakfast, for an afternoon tea or for dessert. We tackled the challenge of making the perfect, fool-proof panettone recipe, and we couldn’t be happier with the results. We also took it one step further, by turning them into sweet miniature bundles of joy, perfect for gifting during the holidays.

Here are common questions and solutions to make your panettone experience run smoothly:

Q. Am I really only using 1/2 tsp of yeast?
A. Yes! This is a slow-rise panettone, and the amount of active dry yeast is enough for the dough, which takes about 17 hours to rise. Make sure to proof the dough in an insulated environment, like an oven (as directed). This will keep the dough away from cold and draft, which may stall the yeast from working its magic.

Q. Is the yeast only stirred into the flour; shouldn’t I activate it in warm water first?
A. No. While most bread recipes require proofing the yeast in warm water before incorporating the other ingredients, this recipe calls for combining all the dry ingredients (including the yeast) first, then adding the liquid ingredients.

Q. I don’t have a stand mixer. Can I use an electric beater or a whisk?
A. No. The key to success for this recipe is a stand mixer. The paddle has enough power to beat the dough, which activates the yeast and makes the dough smooth and and elastic (make sure you beat it for the 10 minutes as directed — you’ll notice the dough changing texture). You’ll know the yeast has activated because the dough will slowly rise and double in size during the first rise, then double in size again during the second rise. Borrow a stand mixer if you need to (or ask Santa for one).

Related: 10 holiday menus for easy entertaining

Q. I don’t like raisins. Can I substitute something else, like dried cranberries?
A. Traditionally, panettone is a citrus-tinged sweet bread sprinkled with candied orange, citron peel and raisins throughout. We stuck to the traditional recipe and did not test with other types of fillings. However, you can always experiment by substituting nuts, chocolate and other dried fruit (we recommend chopping them into small pieces). Just make sure to follow the directions as per the recipe!

Q. I don’t know where to buy panettone liners — can I use something else?
A. Yes. You can order panettone liners online through Canadian distributor, Golda’s Kitchen. In a pinch, you can also use muffin liners, or simply use an ungreased 12-cup muffin tin.

Q. Does the dough really need to rise for a total of 17 hours? That’s a long time!
A. Yes! It is important that the dough has time to rise, as per our directions. If the dough does not rise enough, it will result in a tough bread. We recommend an overnight rise — if you want the bread to be ready by Saturday afternoon, to start the dough the Friday evening beforehand.

Q. Can I make dough ahead of time? 
A. Yes. You can keep it in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze them in an airtight container for up to a month.

Try the recipe: Slow-rise Italian panettone

Happy Baking!