Whole Wheat Panettone

Whole Wheat PanettoneWhole Wheat Panettone
Recipe from Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor by Peter Reinhart

Notes: You may wonder why I am making panettone in March, given that it's a traditional bread for Christmas, and I am not Italian. Well, keep wondering.

This book is all about whole grain breads, and reducing or replacing white flour completely in standard recipes. Some of the formulas are "transitional", using a mix of unbleached white flour and whole wheat flour. For this panettone recipe, 100% of the flour is whole wheat. It began with a soaker of flour, salt, milk and melted butter, which sat for 24 hours. Since I didn't have a mother starter, I made a biga instead, and let that sit overnight as well. The third item to make in advance is the fruit soaker: I used dried pears, dried apricots, raisins and a bit of store-bought candied orange peel. For the soaking liquid, I combined a bit of orange juice with triple sec and brandy. Finally, I used lemon and vanilla extracts as the flavourings.

The next day, I was ready to make the final dough. In addition to everything made on the first day, you add more flour, sugar, and eggs (so it becomes a little more cake-like). This was an easy dough to work with. My only concern was whether the dried fruit would completely disintegrate in the mixer (it didn't). I recall the dough taking a long time to rise but it eventually rose to the top of the pan. And yes, I actually had a real panettone pan which I bought a long time ago, but have never used for anything.

Anyway, after a total of 60 minutes in the oven (including the initial 20 minutes at 400°F), the internal temperature was nowhere near the target of 200°F. I needed something like 45 minutes more before I got there. I used an aluminum foil shield for the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning.

The finished loaf was beautiful, tall, not too dense and highly aromatic. Instead of vertical slices, I cut it into round slices, then quartered each thick piece. This bread was denser than traditional panettone but the flavouring is quite good: hints of lemon, vanilla, butter and apricot, with no essence dominating. My tasters at the office loved it, despite it being a whole wheat bread. Highly recommended.

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