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This traditional Italian holiday bread will stay fresh longer when it's made with an overnight starter.
Biga (Overnight Starter)
3/4 cup (3 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/16 teaspoon yeast (just a pinch)
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) water
all of the biga (above)
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia flavoring OR 1 teaspoon vanilla + 1/8 teaspoon orange oil
2 1/4 teaspoons SAF Gold instant yeast OR 1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (3 ounces) golden raisins
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) slivered dried apricots
1/2 cup (2 ounces) dried cranberries or flavored fruit bits
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) dried pineapple, chopped
2 tablespoons orange or lemon zest
The Biga: Combine the biga ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, cover, and allow them to rest overnight (8 to 12 hours).
Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and mix and knead them together—by hand, mixer or bread machine—till you've made a soft, smooth dough. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it's puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk). Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the fruits and zest.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone pan or other straight-sided, tall 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan. Cover the pan and let the dough rise till it's just crested over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.
Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake an additional 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 25 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 2, December 1991 issue.