Originating in Milan, the history of this holiday sweet bread involves several lively tales. One story claims that panettone was created by a Milanese cavalier disguised as a baker’s apprentice, who made the treat in order to woo the baker’s daughter. Another legend asserts that a nun, Sister Ughetta, made the first panettone as a dessert for the convent, which was then distributed to the entire town. Whichever story is true, panettone has become a widely baked Christmas dessert. The bread is still made for the holidays in different parts of Italy, and even more often in Central and South America nowadays.
¼ oz. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup raisins
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
In a medium bowl, mix together the water, sugar, and yeast. Cover, and let stand for 10 minutes.
Remove covering, and add eggs, yogurt, zest, vanilla, and salt to the bowl. Mix well.
Add the flour gradually, and mix until the dough becomes a workable ball shape.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Add flour as necessary to ensure the dough does not become sticky.
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until size doubles.
Preheat oven to 350°F, and prepare an 8-inch cake pan.
Toss the dried fruit and confectioner’s sugar in a bowl.
Remove the cover from the dough bowl, punch down the dough, and transfer to a fl oured surface.
Knead the sugared fruit into the dough.
Form the dough into a ball shape. Place in prepared cake pan, cover with a towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
Remove cover (loaf will have risen above the sides of the pan). Brush the dough with melted butter.
Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Test with a toothpick.