Finally, a new BBA Challenge post. And for those of you following along, you’ll know this is the first bread in the book to use sourdough. Not pure sourdough, as there’s a healthy dose of yeast added in the second stage, but sourdough nonetheless! Now that I’ve got my sourdough starter, I was finally able to proceed.
The sourdough was truly the holdup: it’s not for lack of interest in pannetone–this is probably one the first recipes in the book that caught my eye when I bought it several years back, as it brings back such fond memories of visiting my friend Raffaella in Rome, but no sourdough, no pannetone. No longer!
Now, in the end, I didn’t precisely follow the recipe, both intentionally and also unintentionally. Because I was so eager to get going, and don’t have all that candied fruit that is called for regularly lying about, I decided to make something more along the lines of a pandoro. This is something like pannetone without the fruit, though I’m certain that’s quite an oversimplification. But as I’ve always preferred pandoro to pannetone I was easily convinced to go full steam ahead.
As the first dough is made with milk and sourdough, it looked much like the poolish you make for brioche or another enriched dough–the milk truly does change the texture. Once more, into the refrigerator overnight. The next day I mixed in the remaining ingredients. Interestingly, and perhaps because the recipe uses all-purpose rather than bread flour, the dough must rest for about twenty minutes halfway through the kneading process–to “let the gluten develop.”
Because I wasn’t adding the extra fruit, I was unsure about how much extract to add–the recipe calls for both orange/lemon and fiori di sicilia/vanilla extract. I waffled–perhaps both extracts would be overwhelming without the fruit, or perhaps they were all the more necessary given the lack of the extra flavor imparted by rum soaked candied oranges and raisins. In the end I only added the fiori di sicilia flavoring. Now for the “oops” (there always is one)–somehow I mis-read the amount of butter and only put in half a stick rather than a whole stick. I didn’t worry too much when I realized this–instead, I decided to just call this a “middle class” pannetone (like Reinhart’s middle class brioche) or given the lack of extra goodies, even a poor man’s version!
My dough rose much faster than I had expected. I’d like to think that’s because I have a nice healthy sourdough, but our kitchen does get awfully warm…
Even with only half the butter, the dough is quite soft. It’s probably fairly evident even from the pictures–the dough is clearly smooth as silk as it rises.
I’ve mentioned before I love these Italian holiday breads–so no surprise that I’ve sprung for the authentic paper baking molds. (I got them from King Arthur along with my fiori di sicilia extract–as I said, it was not lack of interest that was preventing me from making pannetone!)
My molds looked nearly empty when initially filled, but the dough still had quite a bit of rise in it. I was pleaseantly surprised by this: the recipe says not to expect too much rise; I can only imagine mine behaved so differently since it did not have all the fruit and nuts to weigh it down. Perhaps not so much instant yeast is necessary (the recipe called for a full tablespoon, with my alterations I’d guess less would do).
And here’s my lovely baked off pandoro (pandori?)
I wasn’t sure what I thought of this bread at first–the flavor of the sourdough at first was almost distracting to me, but as I had a few more bites, I think it offered a nice complexity–a bit sour mixed into an otherwise sweet dough, with all the floral and citrus notes lent by the fiori di sicilia. I would love to make this again following the recipe exactly–maybe next Christmas?
By the way, any suggestions on keeping this bread from going stale? The book recommends foil but it didn’t work all that well for me. I’d like to order some bread bags rather than wasting so much plastic wrap, but am trying to find some at a good price–I’ve found some nice looking bags on King Arthur but have heard that better deals are to be had. My internet searches yield wholesale bakery bags–and while I’m sure buying in bulk would get me a good price I’m a bit reluctant to order 1000 at one go!