(Well, it used to be homemade manicotti for Christmas day dinner, but then I married someone who is not Italian and we started spending the holidays with his non-Italian family.)
So I introduced my non-Italian in-laws to panettone. I'm happy to report it has become one of their traditions now, too (or, at the very least, they're humoring me, so thanks for that -- mwah.).
As I mentioned in my last post, I like to try one big new recipe at holiday time each year. This year, I decided to try my hand at panettone, complete with homemade candied citrus peel.
It turns out, there are a LOT of varied recipes for panettone out there on the web, which can make it difficult to decide which one to try, especially when you're messing with a tradition: you don't want it to suck.
To stay on the safe side, I chose Jeff Hertzberg's and Zoe Francois' recipe, straight from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. Even as an amateur bread baker, I have had such good luck with their recipes and instructions that I knew it would be a winner.
This is not a difficult recipe but it is a bit time consuming, especially if you make your own candied citrus peel in the same week. Definitely allow two days for just the panettone part of the project.
Additionally, don't forget that you will need some kind of panettone mold (I chose paper molds). The molds I bought were fairly large, so I was able to make two full-sized loaves (cakes?). Next year, I might try making more loaves, for gift-giving and freezing, by purchasing smaller molds.
Fortunately, Jeff's and Zoe's recipe is available on their web site (although I highly recommend purchasing the book). I'm glad I read the comments section under the recipe, as well, as I picked up a couple of tips (for example, that it is okay to put the molds on a cookie sheet to bake, as they're a bit wobbly in the paper molds.
I used a combination of golden raisins, dried apricots and candied citrus peel, which was absolutely delicious. But any combination of your favorite dried fruits would be fine.
One other note: this panettone is slightly less sweet than the kind that you might purchase in your local grocery or department store at holiday time. We actually preferred this slightly less sweet version; if you don't think you would, add a bit more honey than is called for in the recipe.
If you're looking to add a new tradition to your holiday mix, why not add homebaked panettone? If panettone is already a tradition for you as well, do you have a favorite recipe for it?
Happies holidays to you, loyal readers, from the Ninj. Here's hoping you receive the best christmas gift ever this year.