- aprox. 350g (12 oz) plain flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 15g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast or 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
- 50g (2 oz) caster sugar
- 4 tbsp warm water
- 3 eggs or 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
- 100g (4 oz) butter, softened
- 75g (3 oz) sultanas
- 40g (1 1/2 oz) candied citron peel, chopped
- 25g (1 oz) butter, melted
This sweet yeast cake is a traditional part of the Christmas fare in Italy, but it is served with coffee and for breakfast throughout the year in many regions. Panetone keeps well in an airtight container and can be reheated whole.
Sift about 225 g/8 oz of the flour and salt into a bowl and put to warm. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, with a teaspoon of the sugar and leave in a warm place to froth. Mix the rest of the sugar into the flour. Beat the eggs with the vanilla essence and lemon rind. Stir into the flour, a third at a time and mix into a soft dough, which can be gathered into a ball. Gradually beat in the softened butter. Add a little more flour, working the dough with your hands into a manageable ball. Turn it on to a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and silky. Put into a warm bowl, cover, and leave for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Knock back the dough and knead in the sultanas and peel. Shape the dough into a ball, put into a greased and lined 18 cm/7 inch round cake tin and cut a cross in the top. Leave in a warm place for about 15 to 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Brush the top of the panetone with melted butter and bake in the centre of a preheated moderately hot oven at 200°C/400°F, Gas Mark 6 for 10 minutes. Brush again with melted butter and reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F, Gas Mark 4 for a further 40 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire tray. Serve cut into thick wedges.