Some time ago I was called to be a “private chef in villa” to make Panettone, a typical cake of the Italian Christmas tradition.
It was a couple of connoisseurs of art: she a sculptor, he a collector of works of art; both were curious about the preparation of the panettone. His wife organized a party for her 60 years and invited 10 friends who lived near Lucca to dinner.
Of course, I couldn’t say no to such an extravagant request.
Even dessert, which usually asks for a long time, is made from scratch.
In this particular situation, being the panettone, I just couldn’t.
Panettone is, in fact, one of the most difficult cakes of the Italian tradition and, in addition to this, it is also very long to prepare. To this must be added the leavening after hours.
In a nutshell, I warned my customers/guests that the private chef in the villa would arrive many hours earlier.
And so I woke up early, did the shopping for the evening’s menu, and headed for the Lucca countryside.
The surroundings of Lucca
are truly remarkable. Here you can find absolutely the best Tuscan countryside. In fact, not only are there the vines, the hills, the dirt roads, but a few kilometers away you can also enjoy a wonderful sea!
And it is in the Lucca countryside that my husband and I bought a stone house!
It is a holiday home and bed & breakfast: Dolce Vita! And this is where I run cooking classes (when I’m not called for home service).
Well, coming back to our panettone, once arrived at the villa, I made the panettone rise in a place that I didn’t know, waiting anxiously for it to grow. Then I baked it in an oven that I barely knew how worked. Yet, my dear, because of the recipe that you find below, you can rest assured. In fact, the panettone came out spectacular!
And Jennifer, our client, wrapped it in a beautiful yellow paper, one of the typical Tuscan ones, and then tied it with a very Christmas red ribbon.
You can make infinite versions of Panettone: the most common is the classic one, with candied fruit and raisins, personally, my family prefers the version with chocolate chips.
Panettone Sweet Bread!
FOR THE FIRST YEAST (DOUGH NUMBER ZERO)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (60 gr) Manitoba Flour (A Canadian high protein content wheat flour, so very high in gluten);
2 tbsp (30 gr) lukewarm water;
3 tsp; 12 gr active dry yeast
dissolve the yeast in the water; add the flour and mix all together. Leave to rise with the oven off with the door closed for 3 or 4 hours, or in any case up to doubling (if it is particularly cold, leave the oven light on).
FOR THE FIRST DOUGH
Dough Number 0
2 cups + 2 tbsp; 220 gr Manitoba flour
¼ cup + 3 tbsp; 100 gr water
3 tbsp; 60 gr sugar
6 tbsp; 60 gr unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
Pour the ingredients into the standing mixer while it is running, one at a time, starting from the first on the list and waiting about 30 seconds between one and the other. Once it is completely absorbed, continue to knead for about 3-4 minutes. Leave to rise with the oven off with the door closed for 3 or 4 hours, or in any case up to doubling (if it is particularly cold, leave the oven light on).
FOR THE SECOND DOUGH
1 cup + 2 tbsp; 120 gr Manitoba flour
3 tbsp; 60 gr sugar
2 tbsp; 40 gr honey
3 tbsp + 1 tsp; 50 gr water
6 tbsp; 60 gr unsalted butter (softened)
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup + 1tbsp; 140 gr chocolate drops (OR 4 tbsp raisin + 4 tbsp candied orange/citrus zests)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pour the ingredients into the standing mixer while it is running, one at a time (except the chocolate drops or raisin +zests), starting from the first on the list and waiting about 30 seconds between one and the other. Once it is completely absorbed, continue to knead for about 10 minutes. During the last minute add the chocolate chips (or raisin +zests). Pour the dough into Panettone mold.