Breads


 Panettone
My Panettone
There is nothing better then the scent of freshly baked bread.  I have worked on perfecting my Panetone recipe and the family loves this bread.

Panettone is an Italian Christmas bread that usually has chunks of dried oranges and raisins.  I use cran-raisins instead and it taste great. It's a long recipe, but so worth the time.

Recipe:

1 1/2 cups of dried cran-raisins
1 1/2 cups of red or Marsala wine
1/2 cup tequila (optional)
2   1/4 ounce packages of quick active dry yeast
Traditional Panettone Shape
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup of luke warm water
5 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cups of sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 ounces room temperature butter (cut into small pieces)
6 eggs at room temperature + 1 egg white
1 egg yoke
1/4 cup of whole milk

Combine cran-raisins, wine, and tequila (if using) in a bowl to macerate. Combine yeast, pinch of sugar, and luke warm water in a bowl, stir and let stand 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, put flour, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, and egg white into a mixer.  With the dough hook, mix at a slow speed.  Slowly add yeast mixture. When all ingredients are combined, mix at medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes.  The dough is a little sticky, but will be shiny and gather around the dough hook.

Set dough into a bowl that has been lightly greased with oil.  Cover with saran wrap and put in a draft free place for approximately 2 hours.  Dough should be doubled in size.  Put dough on a floured surface and gently knead for a few minutes.  Put back into bowl and allow to rise for approximately 1 - 2 hours.  Dough should double in size.  By allowing the bread to rise so many times, you will have the right texture--airy with tiny holes.

After second rising, drain cran-raisins (I reserve the liquid. It tastes awesome over ice cream).  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Knead cran-raisins into dough and divide into 2 pieces.  Place in a greased loaf pan, and allow to rise for about 1 more hour.  Cut a slit down the middle with a sharp knife.  Mix egg yoke and milk and brush over bread.  Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 35 - 45 minutes depending on your oven.  I use the Pampered Chef mini loaf pan, so I divide my dough into 4 smaller loafs.  Cool on a rack.  Taste wonderful hot and fresh from the oven.  Cover well if there is any left! 


I love making bread. I love kneading it, watching it rise, and eating it fresh from the oven. Nothing is better then butter melting on piping hot bread.

Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup raisins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Method

1 Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

2 Using your (clean) fingers (or two knives or a pastry cutter), work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the raisins.

3 Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.

4 Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.) Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.

Hint 1: If the top is getting too dark while baking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.

Hint 2: If you use a cast iron skillet to cook the bread in the oven, be very careful when you take the pan out. It's easy to forget that the handle is extremely hot. Cool the handle with an ice cube, or put a pot holder over it.

Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.

Yield: Makes one loaf.

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