By Val Hoppichler (nee Val Bianco-Martinez)
Dear Parishioner readers: This new column will bring you different recipes from all the Grandmothers, La Nona, Die Oma, La Abuela, La Grand-mère, in the world. In this first edition I share my Nona’s Panettone recipe. A beautiful Italian woman who emigrated to Argentina when she was young. I had the pleasure to enjoy every Sunday at her home, cooking or eating all kind of fresh pasta, sauces and sweets Italians pastries… all day long. In every Italian family you reunite every Sunday at lunch time and chat and eat until dinner with no less than 14 family members or closer friends. I grew up with this feeling of “belonging” that a family/friends gives you, where you are always welcome. And as all the Italian families sing in Argentina: Lo primero es la familia! Family comes first!
Here is the recipe for my Nona’s Christmas Panettone:
1kg Flour (You can get 5 Panettones of 400g each)
100g Margarine, softened
1 tsp Agua de Azahar (Orange Flower/blossom Water)
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp Lemon grated zest
1 tsp Naranja grated zest
100g of fresh yeast -ideally- or use dried instead.
Raisins, sultanas, chocolate, pecan or any other nuts you like (lots! ) As much as you like.
Cognac or rum to hydrate the fruit
Step 1: Grease a panettone tin or use a panettone case/s.
Step 2: Soak the fruit in Cognac. (The fruit, nuts and chocolate will be added at the end.)
Step 3: Prepare the Yeast: Mix the Yeast with 1 tsp of sugar, 200g Flour and 100ml warm Milk, mix all until you feel a smooth and soft dough. Cover and leave to prove.
Step 4: Liquids: In a pot add the rest of 200ml of Milk, 1cup Sugar, 1 tsp of Blossom Water, vanilla extract, lemon and orange zest, the softened butter and at the end the eggs.
Step 5: Place the rest of the flour -800g- in a large bowl in a crown shape and add the liquids and the yeast n the middle. Knead until it all starts to come together and you get a smooth dough. Cover it and let it rise for 30 minutes. Knead it again for 10 min and let it rise again for 30-45min.
Step 6: Place the dough on your kitchen table, stretch it and add the fruits and nuts/chocolate. Knead it all for a couple of minutes; you can add a sprinkling of flour to stop the mixture sticking but not too much. Leave it to rest for 45 minutes. Split it in 4 parts or make one big Panettone, as you prefer; place in the case(s) and leave for 10 minutes.
Step 7: Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Place in the oven and bake for 40 – 50 mins OR until golden and risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let it cool and you can decorate the Panettone with chocolate or icing sugar. Buon Natale!