There has been some serious fallout from my Panettone disaster. Reactions have been swift and direct. Misunderstanding could be blamed on my poor writing and communication skills. I'll be more clear.
I love Panettone but as with tins of "British" curry powder, jars of sweet soy-based mayonnaise, bottles of "lite" vinigerette (sic), tinned carrots, Kraft cheddar cheese slices, easy-squeeze plastic lemons of juice and bright green cocktail onions, I prefer the real thing.
Silly me, I thought I'd make one. When I said this was the worst thing I'd ever made, a friend suggested it was simply that I didn't like panettone, that I had misunderstood that it was a type of a bread. No. I had tried and failed. This was awful because it was NOT a Panettone.
This December I counted a minimum of 500 boxes of Panettone, displayed in pyramids, at any one time at my local supermarket. Every day the stacks were replenished. Imagine the number throughout this small city, in every supermarket, gourmet shop, Italian greengrocer, imagine the number in each city of the world. It's a bit like the diaspora of Persian Rug Closing Down Sales.
I copied their ingredients. On average they were made of...
Wheat flour, sugar, vegetable fats (palm oil) sultanas, eggs, natural yeast, candied orange peel, wheat glucose-fructose syrup, citric acid, sulphur di-oxide, emulsifying agents: mono & diglycerides of edible fatty acids, salt, skimmed milk powder, flavours (unspecified). They ranged in price, the lowest for a 900gram loaf was $6.49.
Yes, there are good quality ones. The priciest was $47.00 and why shouldn't they charge that for something that has been made with care and good ingredients? Interestingly, these were not as tall (less pumped up) and with ingredients we could recognise.
Yes I decided to make one and learnt it was harder than I imagined - a great lesson in humility.
Another friend said it must have been OK because she knew I couldn't make anything bad. A darling and sweet thing to say, thank you, but I assure you, even I make (and have made) mistakes.
Another friend said it looked yummy, Fool, you have many disappointments to look forward to.
Still another found the worst thing was the garnish of holly. And here I was thinking I was being sarcastically funny decorating it with black leaves - a doomed loaf.
But solid information came from Frank. A master baker, Frank is the man. I re-post his notes which will open up some of the hidden traps of working with flour and yeast. (And I turned the loaf into a re-constructed Tiramisu, with the addition of coffee, over-proof dark rum and mascarpone cream.
Frank writes, "Any yeast dough that has a high fat content and high sugar content needs to have a pre-batter stage. In a mixer, have some of the flour and a pinch of the sugar with all of the yeast and all of the liquid at blood temperature. Make this like a loose pancake batter and then cover with the rest of the flour, sugar, butter, salt and flavourings. When the batter rises up and causes the flour to crack open you know it’s ok to start mixing. Fruit goes in last after the dough is well developed. Don’t over-do the amount of alcohol you might be tempted to douse the fruit in either. High alcohol content can hinder the yeasts performance too. As for salt, it plays a very important part in any yeast product, in flavour and yeast management (stops the yeast from behaving like a teenage boy in love making). It also helps crust colour. I hope this helps Cath. Good on you for giving it a go though. Hope you try again with better results."
Comment, share or tick "like" - below (in very faint letters) -
You know you want to.