Don’t you hate how Christmas gear starts appearing as early as October or even September these days? I get that some people may want to plan ahead and send Christmas related gifts to relatives living abroad but I think it’s just an excuse to get people to open their yuletide purses prematurely and completely unnecessarily. Ultimately, I think some people stock up early with all good intention but find they need to top again close to Christmas given temptation.
I generally give the Pre-Christmas section of stores and supermarkets a wide berth until late November but the one thing that does always tempt me into loosening my purse strings is Panettone. I love the stuff. I am not at all Italian but this festive bread is the one thing that heralds Christmas to me. I think it may have something to do with the local cafe near my last workplace always getting in a supply of wonderfully light, real Italian Panettone around Christmas time. I pretty much bought a slice every day in the lead up to Christmas because I knew I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them again for another year. So for around six years, Panettone was my sign that Christmas was nigh.
If you have noticed those large boxes of Panettone in shops then you may have also noticed how expensive they are. You wouldn’t think so just by looking at its plain, mushroom-like form, but Panettone is quite labour intensive to make and involves a decent amount of butter. Nothing that contains butter is cheap these days sadly. Furthermore, a lot of Panettone sold in gourmet food stores are imported from Italy so there’s that cost factor to consider as well. Does it therefore make sense to make your own?
When I first came across Gourmet Traveller magazine’s recipe for Panettone some years ago, my eyes glazed over after just a few minutes of reading. There seemed to be a lot of waiting around involved too which, while not unusual for bread making, was never really compatible with full time work or busy weekends. I did however find a moment just recently to finally try this recipe and I’m happy to report that it is indeed well worth making your own Panettone.
If you regularly make bread then the extra proofing steps won’t faze you at all. Even beginner bakers will find the recipe fairly straightforward (as long as you concentrate) and certainly easier to make than croissants. If you’re not into dried fruit then you can substitute those ingredients for nuts or chocolate chips. I used some Japanese plum wine soaked raisins only and some mixed spices instead of vanilla. I also halved the ingredients given in the recipe for a smaller Panettone, which I found to be a good size anyway. Just adjust the baking time to about two-thirds of the overall process.
Practice will no doubt make closer to perfect with Panettone but with a few more weeks to go to experiment, I’m hoping Panettone making will become my new Christmas memory.
Beerenberg Giveaway: What food or drink item really shouts ‘It’s Christmas!’ to you?
I have a gorgeous trio of Beerenberg jam to give away for Christmas to anyone who resides in Australia or has an Australian postal address for me to send the gift to. I enjoyed my homemade Panettone with Beerenberg’s luscious strawberry jam but in this giveaway, you can try their apricot and raspberry jams as well. Just let me know via a comment here what food or drink gets you into the Christmas spirit and why? Let me know if it’s something you do or want to make at home. If you are on Facebook, you can post your comment there also and if you happen to also ‘Like’ my page, I will include a bonus gift :)
My Gastromony page can be found here. Competition closes 16th of December so I can post the winner her/his goodies in time for Christmas.