In the previous post, you learned some theories about the history of panettone (panettone, in Italian) and today you will learn several tips on how to get your hands dirty and prepare this delicious roll! The first step is to understand its composition.
In the industry, panettone falls into the category of spongy pasta, which are very delicate, soft pasta with the formation of large bubbles. Its structure depends a lot on the chosen ingredients, but mainly on the preparation, so the proportions are fundamental here. Let’s understand the role of each ingredient to arrive at the ideal panettone:
- WHEAT FLOUR: is the ingredient that will provide proteins responsible for the formation of the gluten network. The correct formation of this net is what will guarantee the fluffy and smooth texture of your panettone. There is a very complete post about gluten here on the blog, take a look. Remember that panettone is a sponge – this means that the more gluten the better, so get ready to knead a lot. In addition, the choice of a protein-rich flour in this case makes a difference.
- WATER: usually added chilled (to maintain the proper dough temperature and not cause damage to the gluten network), it is responsible for hydrating the flour proteins, which allows the formation of the gluten network. In addition, water assists in the homogenization of ingredients and uniform heat distribution during baking. However, if you add less water, the surface will be hard and the crumb dry. Already if you add too much water, the panettone will not grow properly and you still risk getting the kernels moist.
- SALT: although it strengthens gluten and intensifies flavors, it causes dehydration in yeast microorganisms, which will cause failures in the dough growth process. So, nothing to add the salt with the yeast, leave to add it together with the flour. So you give the yeast some time to feed on sugar, multiply and be stronger before it wears out.
- YEAST: it is responsible for growth through the production of CO2 by microorganisms. Traditional panettone takes natural or homemade yeast. It is produced with patience, from the mixture of wheat flour, water and if you want, some fruit. This means that the result will be the appearance and multiplication of microorganisms in the air and in the added ingredients themselves. Biological yeast (dry or fresh) is formed by the same microorganisms used in beer production, among others, this means that its result is CO2 and alcohol (which evaporates in the oven, don’t worry). So you can already imagine the difference between the panettone produced using each of these yeasts, right? The result is completely different, as the products of each of these reactions have different flavors and aromas.
- SUGAR: it serves as food for the yeast and helps in coloring through the caramelization process.
- FAT (cream, butter, oil): they are responsible for softness, flavor and color, but make no mistake, this ingredient if added in excess can hinder the growth of your panettone. Already added in the ideal amount, it even helps in the retention of gases, as they create a film on the dough.
- EGGS: act on texture and structure, as they confer proteins and are good components for trapping gases, since the protein is clearly denatured.
Photos: Paulo Cuenca
In addition to these ingredients, Italian legislation also allows for the addition of malt extract, natural flavors and honey, but no preservatives and artificial ingredients.
The secret of panettone is in the process. If you want a traditional panettone, prepare to let the dough rest at least in two moments for a few hours after the kneading process. The dusting also has some tricks: you must knead the dough until it reaches the point of veiling (I also explained it correctly in the gluten post, which you can check here. In the production of traditional panettone, this rest can reach 14h. For you to have an idea, in this period, the microorganisms multiply, release a lot of gas and aromas, the gluten network stabilizes and the panettone is forming spectacularly. Now, if you use biological yeast, it will be much faster and, to help in flavor, you can taste the spices and aromas.
Remember that, if you use too much filling (much more than 20% of the total mass), the panettone will become very dense and there is a great chance that it will cause problems in growth. So hold on to this desire to fill the panettone with fruits, chocolates, and other bad things because that proportion is sufficient.
Oh, and you can invent, you see ?! Creativity is the best characteristic of the human being, isn’t it? So throw yourself and make very different panettones, even if Italians can wrinkle their nose. In the recipe below, Dani created a truffled chocotone volcano! Click here for step by step.
Oh, just two more tips: do you remember that I said that the structure of the panettone is spongy and super-aerated? This means that gravity can be an obstacle when the dough has just come out of the oven. The gas that gave rise to the bubbles, when heated, had its volume expanded, but when cooled, this gas returns to its normal volume and ends up escaping to the environment.
Since, at this moment, the structure of the dough is still hot and soft, it is best not to cause a thermal shock to the panettone, so leave it for a few minutes in the oven with the door ajar. Shortly thereafter, put it upside down to cool – so you will guarantee that your structure will be maintained.
Finally, try not to grease the pan used to bake your panettone; the papers used for this are already waxed and this is enough, because in this way the mass can adhere to the walls and this will help to reinforce / hold the structure even more.
Well, for today it’s just personal. Whoever goes to Italy, please bring a Pane di Toni from Milano per me, va bene?