This traditional light and airy citrus-flavored fruit bread originated in Milan, Italy and is a staple of Italian Christmas festivities. Its history dates back as far as the Middle Ages when, to celebrate Christmas, people would replace their daily bread with a richer recipe. The actual translation is “big bread,” — from panetto meaning bread, and one meaning large.
This recipe is for the Panettone Milanese version, which is similar to brioche in texture and consistency. These cakes are usually taller than they are wide, with a domed top and light and fluffy. Italians enjoy it with a cup of coffee for breakfast.
Traditional Italian Panettone
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 egg yolks
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup currants, soaked in warm water for 1 hour and drained, or golden raisins, or any candied fruit.
2 oranges, zested
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Use a mixer to cream together the butter, eggs, and egg yolks until pale yellow. Using a dough hook attachment, add half of the flour to the mixture with the mixer running. Add half the milk and mix for one minute. Add the remaining flour, milk, and the sugar and mix well. Next, add the currants, orange zest, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Mix well.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes. Place the dough in a buttered and floured 8” round deep cake pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and invert onto a rack to cool.