Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Italian Christmas Cake

Almost every Town or Village in Italy has some sort of Christmas cake, cookie, or pie. A very popular one is Panettone which is essentially a sweet bread, which is traditionally eaten around Christmas.
Panettone is the traditional Christmas Cake of the Milanesi, and has become the most common Christmas cake in Italy. Originating from Milan this delicious treat is great curled up with an indulgent long coffee! Their are many variations to the traditional citrus zest flavor such as with chocolate chips or completely plain - but I think the original is the best! It can be enjoyed as breakfast, afternoon tea or dessert...the perfect Italian treat!
7 g active dry yeast
235 ml warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
50 g white sugar
2 eggs 120 ml
Low fat plain yogurt
5 ml vanilla extract
6 g grated lemon zest
2 g salt
500 g unbleached all-purpose flour
70 g dried currants
50 g raisins
8 g confectioners' sugar
15 g butter, melted (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine yeast, sugar and water. Cover and let it stand 10 minutes, or until foamy.Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Mix well.
Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough forms into a manageable ball shape.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until dough is soft and pliable, but not sticky. (May need up to 5 cups flour.) Place dough in a large, lightly pan-sprayed bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This should take about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees ) and lightly grease a round 8-inch cake pan with butter. In a small bowl, toss dried fruit with confectioners' sugar. Punch down dough in bowl, transfer to floured surface, and knead in the fruit. Form the dough into a ball, place in prepared cake pan, cover it loosely with a dish towel, and let it rise for 30 minutes. (The loaf will rise above the pan sides.)
Brush with melted butter.Bake for 45 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
You can find this in any of the Italian restaurants in Little Italy in New York .... as well as the famous other Italian pastries such as my other favorites cannolis, chocolate mousse and Italian cheesecake. ... my favorite is Sfogliatella
Happy Christmas or Buon Natale!