This week's Great British Bake Off theme was European Bakes, with lot of layer cakes and yeast cakes.
My cooking inspiration, my Gran, never made it to Europe. In fact she only flew once in her life-all the way to Canada, so as you can imagine European cakes were few and far between in my early childhood. That was until we were introduced to my step-mum and her mother "Nonnina". Nonnina was Italian and despite living in Yorkshire for 50 years she had (to us anyway) still a strong Italian accent.
She was a painter and her terraced cottage was filled with piles of magazines that she kept, knitted toys that she made and her art. Her studio was in the basement, down a rickety set of stairs and opened up into the most beautiful garden that she would sit in, feeding the birds little crumbs of her cake and toast.
At Christmas time we would always be given a traditional Panettone, wrapped in cellophane and in a square box. The smell was a heady mix of vanilla, candied peel and a hint of alcohol. It was as light as a sponge, really airy and would be served in a big slice with a cup of tea.
The traditional way of making Panettone is a slow triple-prove method that gives the dough the best chance to form it's characteristic bubbles, keeping enough structure to hold the fruit in place. It should be cooled upside down, suspended on skewers to encourage the domed top to hold and harden, as well as keeping the internal structure stretched and airy until it has cooled completely.
That recipe is a recipe for a lazy, rainy weekend when time and patience allows.
The recipe that I used was still a lengthy process, with an 8 hour proving time in the fridge, but was an all in one method, using dried yeast. After starting the mix first thing in the morning, it was ready to bake after dinner. This is a good recipe to get started with, it gives the exact taste I remember, if not quite the texture. You will need a mixer for this recipe, the dough is a sticky one and needs plenty of mixing to get everything incorporated and stretched.
Italian Panettone - Adapted from The BBC Food Paul Hollywood recipe
500g strong white flour
2 x 7g sachets of instant yeast
50g caster sugar
140ml warm milk
5 free range eggs & 1 egg yolk at room temperature (keep the white for egg wash)
250g unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
250g dried fruit soaked for 15 minutes in 3 tbs rum
zest of 1 orange & 1 lemon
generous pinch of nutmeg
1.5 tsp of vanilla paste (or seeds from 2 vanilla pods)
Put the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, milk & eggs into the bowl of a free standing mixer with a dough hook attachment.
Mix slowly for 2 minutes, then increase to a medium speed and mix for a further 6-8 minutes until you have a smooth dough.
Gradually add the softened butter and mix for a further 5-8 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl periodically to make sure all the butter gets combined into the mix. This will make a very soft dough.
Mix in the fruit, zest and vanilla until it is all incorporated.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours and the dough is firm enough for you to shape it.
Prepare your cake tin (I used an 8" fixed base tin) by lining the base and sides with double thickness baking parchment so that the paper is approx 5cm above the top of your tin.
Remove the dough from the fridge, knock back the dough, shape it into a ball and put into your tin.
Leave to prove for 2-3 hours until the dough just starts to dome over the top of your tin (not the top of the paper collar).
Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas 4.
Brush the top with your egg white wash and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 150C/Gas 2 and bake for a further 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Mine should have had a further 10 minutes to cook as the dough in the centre wasn't completely cooked.
Remove the panettone from the tin immediately and allow to cool. Be careful removing it as the cake will be very soft at this point and can easily dent if you knock the side (opps!). Once completely cooled remove the paper collar and serve.
So it has the height and the taste of the panettone, but not quite the texture. It may have been because I took it out of the oven a little too soon and that this one slow prove method will always produce a denser texture. The only way to find out is by trying the traditional 3 prove recipe next and compare...all I need now is a rainy, no plans weekend, 4 skewers and a bucket to rest my cake over!
|With Supergolden Bakes|