Another endurance test from Rose this week. She's a hard task mistress, no doubt about it. This week's recipe required the Alpha Bakers to map out a campaign that a three star general would be proud of, with the cooking starting one week in advance; not to mention special training for the Alpha Bakers' fridge-muscles (open-bowl in-close, open-bowl out-close, and repeat).
This week's recipe is the Italian Christmas treat, Panettone; in this case Golden Orange Panettone. The Baking Bible version has orange peel, golden raisins, Triple Sec and orange oil. I replaced the candied orange peel (eeeww) and Triple Sec with espresso coffee and Kahlua. There aren't that many common-or-garden variety foods I really dislike but glace orange and lemon peel is one of them. I used Kahlua because that's what the shop had in their stock of tiny bottles and the espresso was the natural complement to that.
Special requirements for this bread include a panettone baking paper, golden raisins (see below) and Gold Medal flour. I guess I could have ordered them via the interwebs but I thought I'd make do this week having (over) spent on baking paraphernalia in the post-Christmas period.
As an aside, in cooking through the Baking Bible I've been pondering the choices an author has to make about the audience they write for. No doubt the broader your audience (and the more geographically diverse) the more difficult it must be to write a recipe that is generally successful. The biggest hurdle is probably the flour specifications. But there is also the difference in measures. Can you believe that an Australian tablespoon is 20ml as opposed to the UK/US 15ml; and an Australian cup is 250 ml? (I mean, who decided that?!) Lucky most things are able to be weighed. I have spent some time looking at protein levels in flours for this bake-along but I imagine a lot of people would just use what they have in the cupboard. I have to say despite these challenges, my impression is that Rose does seem to fool-proof her recipes through the techniques she specifies (so a fool from any nation can make them :-) ).
I only spent three days making this if you don't count the two I spent looking in the fridge to see how things were going. The first task is to make a biga six hours and three days before the next step. This is just flour, water and yeast mixed together, left to ferment for six hours and then refrigerated for three days (or two and a bit if you get sick of waiting). I had to pop home from work in my lunch hour to fit in the six hour fermenting time. I do love a yeast recipe and this one was no exception. I love both the lacy texture and the springy sheen of the live yeasty dough. The biga was quite a stiff dough but I trusted it was going to turn out all right and was relieved to see it bubbling away.
Three (or two) days later you combine the now sticky biga with water, flour, more yeast and the first two of the five egg yolks in this recipe. With all those egg yolks and quite a bit of butter it's a pretty rich bread. Then you add more flour and yeast to the top of this mix and wait for it to bubble up again.
Finally you add the rest of the ingredients (golden syrup, butter, egg yolks and the alcohol and espresso) to get a dough with a lovely caramel tan. It's pretty sticky at this stage and it's hard to imagine it's going to turn itself into anything as solid as bread. It did let itself be made into a rectangle however with the aid of some dusted flour (spot the new tools).
Then the dried fruit is added into the dough and kneaded in slightly. You can see in the picture below that I haven't used golden raisins. We don't have golden raisins in our island state. AND I thought, after googling this a while ago, that I had it sorted that golden raisins meant sultanas (which are brown not golden but who am I to question Google) in our language. UNTIL one day I saw a packet of golden raisins in the supermarket (and they were golden not brown). Anyway I skirted the issue and used currants because I had some in the fridge and I like them best out of the grape variety of dried fruit. As I mentioned above no candied orange peel sullied this dough.
When I came to look at my photos for this post I found an awful lot of dough in various, slightly confusing stages of rise (or fall). So... dough goes up.... dough does down... dough goes in the fridge... It was gratifyingly successful at this stage (my indicator of success is that the dough rises, which is not technically correct probably but ignorance is bliss). I also did a couple of business folds somewhere in this time but have no photos.
I'm quite proud of my handiwork with a DIY baking paper lining for the tin. I did the second to last rise in a bowl because it's just easier for the lazy baker than putting it in a plastic bag. I just tipped it out of the bowl gently and was quite pleased with the success of this. I shaped it and put it in the tin for the FINAL rise.
Look, isn't she lovely? So shiny and full of life. I butchered a cross into her top with scissors (Rose said to).
My oven is still not fixed so I baked this in my new convection microwave (all my appliances have given up the ghost). Unfortunately the oven is not that high so when I put it in the dough was already close to touching the oven ceiling. I was so focused on making the panettone in the traditional high loaf I somehow couldn't convince myself to put it in a wider and lower tin. This of course meant that the top was overcooked, even with a cap of foil, and didn't rise with the promise it showed when I put it into the oven. So it was a qualified success.
I was pretty pleased with it despite the crunchy top half. The bottom half was soft with a caramel-y flavour from the Kahlua and espresso. I do like panettone (although I've only ever had commercial varieties before now) but I don't find it really special. While I really enjoyed the process I'm not sure I'd put in all the effort and all those egg yolks for the result. I'd rather make kouigns amann. Yum.
Next week is a biscuit recipe - gingersnaps, which should be a snap...