I think one of the best things in life is breakfast. I can’t seem to survive the day without it. Mornings composed of coffee and some form of bread are perfectly blissful in my book. Oh, and silence. I like to take my breakfast with a side of that. When I think about it, my being a morning person has its perks. I get to have mornings to myself. The rest of the day tend to be filled with people and noise, endlessly ringing telephones, paperwork scattered all over the place. The evenings are filled with family stories and laughter, which of course is always a pleasure. Then again, I still love my tranquil mornings the most.
Last year, an uncle of mine gave us this giant loaf of panettone about a week before Christmas, and it was the best panettone I’ve had so far. It had just the right hint of citrus, and the perfect amount of nuts and dried fruit. I ate it every single morning toasted and with a piping hot mug of coffee. I remember this nice sense of contentment settling over me during those days. I don’t know how else to explain it. Usually my peace of mind comes to me during breakfast-time, maybe because my brain hasn’t turned on all the way yet; the spinning of the gears haven’t gone full speed ahead. Or maybe those quiet moments simply are my tiny pieces of paradise.
Breakfast is undoubtedly my favourite meal of the day, but there are times when even your favourite moments get elevated into something else entirely, you know? Somewhere between savouring the panettone and thinking about nothing at all, I had promised myself I’d attempt to recreate a panettone as delicious the following year.
Well here we are a year later, with a slew of quiet mornings tucked under my belt. (Just thinking about those days makes me smile.) I think I’ve learned to appreciate them all the more this year, and I’m gearing for that special and extra kind of serenity Christmas season mornings give me. This panettone isn’t as good as the one our uncle gave us, but it still will serve the same purpose as it is quite delicious and is just homey all around! I loved the lovely colour, the wonderful texture, the scent of the lemon zest I used instead of orange zest, and I especially enjoyed the chunks of chocolate that went alongside the nuts and dried fruits.
For my first homemade panettone, I’d say this was a hit.
Chocolate, Walnuts & Dried Fruit Panettone
adapted from Technicolor Kitchen blog | Makes one large loaf, or about 10 mini-panettones
125 grams unsalted butter, softened, divided
350 grams strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoons instant dried yeast
50 grams caster sugar
50 grams dried cranberries
50 grams nuts of choice (walnuts; or shelled, unsalted pistachios), roughly chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 orange *
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tablespoons warm milk, plus extra if needed
50 grams semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
icing sugar, to dust
1. Grease and line a fluted savarin or kugelhopf pan, or a 18cm round x 9cm deep pan, or 10 panettone liners.
2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast, sugar, cranberries, nuts and zest.
3. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, 100 grams of the butter and the milk. Mix briefly.
4. Using the dough hook, knead the dough in the bowl for 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic, adding a little extra milk if dough is dry.
5. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.
6. Punch down the dough in the bowl to ‘knock back’, then knead for another 5 minutes on a floured surface. Gradually knead in the chocolate as quickly as possible to avoid the chunks melting.
7. Place the dough into the pan, or divide into 10 equal pieces and place in panettone cups. Cover and leave for another 30 minutes or until risen again.
8. Towards the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
9. Melt the remaining 25 grams butter and brush over the top of the dough. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Wrap in a thick tea towel and set aside to cool. Dust with icing sugar to serve, if desired.
* I substituted with the zest of 2 lemons.
This Christmas, like every other, I’m excited for my quiet mornings, with the rest of the day reserved for spending time with the family. What are you most looking forward to during the holidays?