One of my holiday traditions is baking panettone, a type of Italian holiday bread eaten for both Christmas and New Year. It's a bread that is very popular in South America as well as Italy.
I make about 8 loaves a year and it's a gift that always seems to be appreciated. I've even given it to Italians and had them rave about it. I guess they were homesick. Of course, I have to do quality control every year to make sure I haven't lost my touch. Usually we do quality control on two loaves. Just to be sure.
What's your favorite holiday baking project?
2 T yeast
1/4 C warm water
Mix and let bubble. Add 1/3 C flour. Let rise until double.
2 1/2 C flour (bread or all-purpose)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C sugar
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 T + 1 tsp water
3/4 C softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 tsp vanilla
grated lemon peel from one lemon or 1/4 tsp lemon extract or 1/4 tsp almond extract
Combine these ingredients with the ball of yeasted dough. Knead 10-15 min. Add more flour as needed, usually about 1 cup. (Your goal is to add a minimum amount of flour so the dough isn't dry.) Then add 1 cup total of dried fruit and chopped nuts. The best way to incorporate the fruit and nuts is to flatten the dough, spread on a layer of the fruit and nuts and then fold the dough several times. Let rise until double. (Enriched doughs often are very slow to rise. Be patient.) Punch down and refrigerate overnight, covered.
Punch down and place in buttered mold. Let rise until double. To speed up the action of this cold dough, I put the pan in a very warm place: on top of some potholders sitting on the radiator until it gets warm and starts rising. Bake 400 for 10 min. and 350 for 30-40 min.