Tuesday, December 04, 2012


The best thing about any festive occasion is family/friends get-togethers. Since I live abroad away from my beloved family, every year we try to spend Christmas & other festivals with friends. Each of us make a dish and gather around, eating and drinking all day, playing games, watching some good old movies. Tasked as the official Baker, I bake batches of traditional fruit cake, along with festive favourites like panettone or stollen, christmas pudding, steamed ginger pudding. I make this bread every year and we like this for breakfast on holidays. Trust me , it is not as hard as it looks, do give this a go.
For the Biga*
200g strong breadfFlour
½ cup cool water
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
Combine the flour, water and yeast, stirring with a wooden spoon to make stiff dough. Place the
dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rise overnight or until it become bubbly.

For the Bread:
300g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 whole eggs + 6 (med) egg yolks, beaten
2 sticks softened butter, plus extra to grease
½ cup caster sugar or mixed spice sugar
7g instant yeast
1/3cup jumbo golden raisins
1/4 sultanas
1/3 cup mix of cranberries, blueberries, sweet morello cherries & inca berries
1/4 cup candied peel, finely chopped
seeds scrapped from 1 vanilla pod
1 tsp vanilla extract
Lemon Extract 1tsp
grated zest of 1 large orange
grated zest of 1 lemon & 1 lime
¼ cup warm milk
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg & cinnamon
3 tbsp dark rum or brandy
1 tbsp Amaretto
1 yolk+1tbsp olive oil, beaten together for glazing
1 tbsp vanilla sugar to sprinkle on top
Soak the fruits in a bowl with both rum/brandy & amaretto. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with dough hook, combine all of the ingredients except the dried fruit. Knead the dough till it's combined; it will be very sticky at first, but should come together eventually as you knead. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for an hour. Knead the raisins, sultanas and candied peel into the dough gently, until evenly distributed. Form the dough into a ball and place it in 8 inch springform tin or a ready-made panettone mould. Cover with cling film or towel and leave to rise for 2 hours in a warm place until the dough has tripled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle vanilla sugar. Bake the panettone for about 40-45 minutes, covering it with aluminum foil for the final 15-20 minutes of baking if it browns too quickly. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean without any crumbs or wet dough. Allow panettone to cool and then brush with melted butter. Dust liberally with icing sugar on top before serving.
Note: Panettone can be served toasted with Zabaglione or with coffee. Stale panettone can be used to make bread & butter pudding or French toasts.
* Biga is a type of starter used to make traditional Italian breads. It gives bread a light, open texture with holes.
Note: Yeast & flour measurements are in grams to be precise.
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