I remember growing up in Detroit and always going to these huge extravagant Christmas Eve parties at my dad’s side of the family. They were absolutely loaded with food, music, games and fun. If you know an Italian just ask them about how much food is rolled out on any holiday throughout the year, you’ll be floored. Honestly, you’d think we were getting ready to feed the entire neighborhood with the amount of food that is made. There were literally several different tables set up by courses for you to go through and pick what you’d like to eat. Obviously the most glorious table in my young eye sights was the dessert table. I mean still to this day I don’t think I’ve ever seen more cookies in 1 place then on that desserts table on Christmas Eve. The most delicious pies, cakes, tarts, you name it this thing would make Willy Wonka blush. I always remember some funny looking tall bread that had raisins in it on the edge of that table, but never once ventured on taking a slice. Well that tall bread was panettone and dang it did I miss out on it for so many years.
There are so many things I wish I could go back in try when I was younger that I just didn’t do. Sure, I’ve been able to eat a lot of those things now, but I never ate them the way my Italian relatives made them. Were they better than the recipes I’ve had now? What did they smell like? How long were they cooked? I mean I’m so bummed that I didn’t eat these things when I had the chance. All I’m trying to say is don’t take these simple things for granite or else you’ll never get the opportunity to know how they were made. While I’ve made panettone several times, I just wish once that I had taken a bite out of the ones my family made 30 years ago.
The comforting part about all of this is at least now I have a really solid recipe and ingredients that I trust to make an insanely delicious panettone. I won’t ever know if mine tasted like theirs, but I know everything in my panettone is good. I can’t tell you how much I swear by Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour. It has a ton of protein in it making it perfect for making breads, crusts, pie shells and cakes, and quite frankly it’s the only flour I trust. In all honestly it always gives me confidence knowing that I’ve used really good ingredients in my cooking. Thanks Bob for helping me create this Chocolate and Orange Panettone Recipe!!
With all that being said, as I wipe a tear from my eye reminiscing on my childhood in Detroit let’s get into this Italian Christmas Cake, or you all know Panettone! Panettone is a light fluffy sweet bread that is usually spiked with some dry fruits and topped off with nuts or sugar. While I’ve done the traditional recipe before, I wanted to change things up so putting in some chocolate chips and orange zest will do the trick. I added these ingredients because it’s a guarantee my daughter will eat it. I don’t want to scare her with a bunch of dried fruit and raisins like I was when I was a kid. I want her to remember everything that I make so that she can pass it on to her kids one day, and the best way I know how to do that now is through chocolate chips :-).
The main thing that panettone requires is time. It needs time to rise twice, so don’t be thinking this is some after dinner treat you are going to whip, because you’re going to need about 5 hours or so to complete this recipe before you can eat it. I suggest starting this in the morning or even on a weekend day. The beautiful thing about panettone is you can swap out toppings and fillings to your liking. While the dough stays the same, you can spike the flavor with whatever you want. Maybe it’s lemon, or some kind of liqueur, or perhaps even nut based. All I’m saying is that you can get creative with this recipe and do whatever you’d like with it! Happy baking guys, and remember to be sure and try everything even if you don’t like it, try it anyways just so you know!
- 1 ½ packets of yeast
- 1 ½ cups of water heated to 110° to 115°
- 1 ½ cups of whole milk heated to 110° to 115°
- 1 ½ cups of sugar + 1 tablespoon
- 1 egg + 1 egg white
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 orange
- ½ cup of melted butter
- 8 cups of Bob's Red Mill all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Sprinkle the yeast into a bowl with the warm water and milk and whisk in 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let sit for 5 to 7 minutes or until it becomes very foamy.
- Next, whisk in the rest of the sugar, 1 egg, salt, vanilla, orange zest and melted butter until combined and transfer it to a standing mixer with the hook attachment.
- Slowly pour in the flour and mix on low speed until combined and kneed for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Let sit for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
- Add the chocolate chips and fold them in the dough until they are completely folded in. Put the dough into a prepared 4” tall by 8” cake pan or use a panettone liner and let rise for more 30 minutes.
- Brush the top of the bread with the egg white and sprinkle on the 1 tablespoon of sugar and bake at 350° for 60 to 70 minutes or until browned on top and the inside is cooked.