Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I had volunteered to bring bread to my Tuesday night book club and was trying to figure out how I could bake a bread on Tuesday and still go to work, having decided that I was not going to do Bring Your Bread to Work Day again. I looked at the recipes for the three remaining breads I had and decided that panettone would work well because the recipe allows for many hours of optional refrigerator time.
On Saturday, we went to Trader Joe's and got some chestnuts and a nice raisin medley. I had already ordered the Fiori di Sicilia--the essential flavoring for the bread, and the decorative paper breadpans, so I was all ready (except for the orange, which I forgot and had to send Jim out to fetch early Sunday morning). And, by the way, Jim is perfectly happy in his role of fetcher of forgotten ingredients for, as well as eater and photographer of bread.
I made the sponge on Saturday night, mixed the dough, let it rise, and shaped it on Sunday, and then put it in the refrigerator. I left careful instructions for Jim, who was working from home today: take dough out of refrigerator at noon and call me when it has risen up to the top of the paper pan. When I called him at 3:00 to check on its progress, he said it was still 3 to 4 inches below the top. I told him how to improvise a proofing box and then worried about why my poor bread was being so slow when it had been lustily rising away two days earlier. I fretted so much I decided I might as well just leave work early to check on it. Although Jim had concocted an excellent makeshift proofing box, the bread was still below the top of the bread pan. Still, it looked very pretty and puffy so I just hoped it would all turn out all right, which, in fact, it did, and it was still warm when I toted it to book club.
I honestly wasn't that keen on making panettone. We got one last year from Harry and David and, while it was not disgusting, it wasn't anything to write home about. In fact, I ended up taking half of it into work where they eat anything. But--sorry Harry and David--this bread is so far superior to what I got last year, it shouldn't even share the same name. It's rich, buttery and feather-light, with a hint of sweetness and a wonderful citrusy tang, and just the right amount of raisins. If I owned the above-named mail order company, I think I would think hard about changing my panettone recipe to, say, this one.