My festive take on a classic holiday bread, this Easy Pannetone Recipe is rich and buttery with rum soaked raisins, hints of orange zest and dried cherries. A great addition to any holiday spread.
So….I used to be weary of pannetone. I wouldn’t touch it. There’s something about a bread that can sit on a shelf for extended periods of time without getting moldy. I’m not a scientist so I’m not quite sure how it’s even possible but the sheer fact that I’d see mountains stacked to the ceiling in grocery stores and HomeGoods made me wonder how good it could be. I mean, it had to be stale…and flavorless….or fruit cake-ish. Right? And even though I so desperately wanted to investigate the situation in that oddly shaped box…I refrained because I didn’t think it was even remotely possible it could be any good.
Fast forward a few years when my mother-in-law decided to come for a visit during the holidays and rang the doorbell with a box of pannetone tucked under her arm. There it was. The very first pannetone to cross my threshold. I was still scared but the next morning she unwrapped that glorious beast and sliced off a big wedge….tossed it in the toaster over until it was a crisp golden brown…slathered it with creamy butter and handed it over. OMG. Just OMG. I had to make it myself….I just had to…but when you read all the recipes, and there are hundreds of them, they all call for SO MUCH WORK. There’s even a step where you have to hang it upside down to cool. There had to be an easier way. A hack if you will and so, that’s how I came up with this Easy Pannetone Recipe…out of desperation and a desire to eat freshly made pannetone-ish bread that hasn’t been sitting on a shelf for months on end.
Just for the record…pannetone is a sweet bread that is, traditionally, enjoyed around the holidays. The texture and flavor is much like a brioche but there are quite a few steps and techniques to pannetone that brioche doesn’t require. So, really, this recipe is for a pannetone-style brioche but let’s just call it an Easy Pannetone Recipe and be done with the semantics. This is what I’m calling it and it’s my blog so there’s that.
You do need to prep a day in advance before baking because the raisins and cherries need a bourbon soak for a good few hours. Adding dried fruit to any bread recipe can sometimes sap the dough of moisture causing the loaf to be dry and/or cracked. A good soak to rehydrate the fruit prevents this from happening and a little extra bourbon is never a bad thing. And my brioche recipe does need to “cure” in the refrigerator overnight. But the wait is worth it and it’s not really much work, just lots of waiting.
This Easy Pannetone Recipe is great in so many ways….toast it and slather with butter the way my Mother-in-Law did….sub out the regular brioche in this French Toast Casserole with pannetone….add it to this bread pudding recipe….make some stuffing. The choice is your’s….or you can just stuff your face with the whole thing while you watch It’s a Wonderful Life…because how can it not be a wonderful life when you have a whole loaf of freshly baked bread all to yourself?
Easy Pannetone Recipe
Prep time includes rise and overnight refrigeration.
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
- 2 1/3 cups super fine pastry flour or cake flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 large eggs
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup orange zest
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Add the raisins, cherries, bourbon and 1/4 cup water to a bowl. Soak for 1 hour or longer.
- Whisk the water and yeast in a small bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes until completely dissolved. Set aside
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, sift together the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt.
- Turn the mixer on low and add the eggs to the bowl 1 at a time beating well after each addition.
- Slowly add the yeast and continue beating at low speed for 5 minutes.
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer on low and beat for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the butter cubes 1/3 at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Once the butter has been added, beat for 10 more minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 3 hours.
- Turn the dough out on a well floured surface and gently knead out the air bubbles.
- Drain the raisins and cherries. Discard the bourbon.
- Fold the raisins, cherries and orange zest into the dough and knead gently to combine.
- Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide the dough in half.
- Shape the dough into 2 rectangles and place into two buttered 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 X 3 inch loaf pans.
- Allow the dough to rise, uncovered, in a warm place until it rises about 1/2 inch above the top of the pans, approximately 2 hours.
- Lightly brush the top of the dough with the egg wash to coat.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake the pannetone until it is golden brown on top, approximately 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.
- Turn the bread out of the pans and cool completely on a cooling rack.
- If not serving immediately, wrap the hot bread in foil and set aside at room temperature for up to 2 days.