A delicious sweet bread, redolent with the subtle scents of Fiori de Sicilia and tangy chew of dried cherries.
- 320 g or 2 c dried cherries
- 3⁄4 cup brandy or cognac
- 1⁄3 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
- 4 1/2 tsp SAF Gold Instant Yeast
- 360 g or 3 c all-purpose flour, divided
- 1⁄2 c warm milk (105° to 115°)
- 150 g or 3⁄4 c sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 tsp Fiori di Sicilia
- 172 g or 3⁄4 c butter, softened
- 120 g or 1 c bread flour
- 18 g or 1⁄4 c sliced almonds
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the cherries and brandy. Microwave on high for 90 seconds; remove, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the water and 2 1/4 tsp of yeast. Stir in 1⁄2 cup flour; cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes).
- In a separate small bowl, combine the milk and remaining 2 1/4 tsp of yeast. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, whole eggs, egg yolks, salt, and Fiori di Sicilia extract. Add milk-yeast mixture; whisk to combine, and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, remaining 2 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 cup bread flour until crumbly. Reduce mixer speed to low; gradually add milk-egg mixture; beat until smooth. Add the flour-yeast mixture, and beat at high speed until dough has an elastic texture (about 5 minutes). The dough will be very sticky. Strain cherries, and add to dough, mixing until well combined; discard brandy.
- Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray; cover dough completely. Let dough stand in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours).
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Divide dough into 12 equal portions (approximately 4 ounces per portion). Knead each portion a few times; roll into balls. Place each ball into a miniature paper panettone mould. Transfer moulds to a baking sheet, and loosely cover dough with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick spray. Let stand in a warm, draft-free area until dough reaches top edges of paper moulds (about 45 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 400°. Place rack in lower third of oven.
- Brush the tops of the loaves with the remaining egg yolk, lightly beaten with a touch of water. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°; bake until tops are golden brown and rise slightly above rims of paper mould (about 15 minutes). Cover with tented aluminum foil to prevent tops from getting too brown, if necessary.
- Transfer pannetone to wire racks to cool completely. Serve warm, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.