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Christmas fruit sweet bread (panettone)

I asked you what Christmas recipe you’d like to see on Little Hands, and to my surprise, an incredible number of you asked for a kid-friendly panettone. So, today, I’m sharing one. I’m basing this on a Christmas-themed fruit sweet bread which follows the logic of the Italian panettone, though of course it’s not the same as the original. There’s no way we can find the time to prepare the fermented dough and focus on making the panettone for one and a half to two days. Besides, you know that on here, you’ll always be finding easy, simple, and of course, healthy recipes, so let’s go to my own version of the holiday fruit sweet bread, which is tasty, incredibly fluffy, has next to no butter, and as always, has no refined sugar. Now, on to the recipe.

 Christmas fruit sweet bread (panettone)

What we will need

  • Flour. In my test runs, I used both tsoureki/brioche flour as well as hard flour, and you can also do it with either. The tsoureki flour has extra gluten as an ingredient and that’s the main point of difference.
  • Yeast. I used dry yeast. You can use fresh yeast as well, though you’ll need different quantities. For example, 8 grams of dry yeast will need to be replaced by 30 grams of fresh yeast.
  • Eggs. The eggs must absolutely be at room temperature. If you use cold eggs, the recipe will fail. They’re also necessary, and I don’t suggest using any of the usual substitutions for this recipe.
  • Milk. I used sheep milk, but I’ve also made it with plant milk, which I can suggest. The most important thing is the temperature of the milk. I write that it should be lukewarm, and what I mean is heating the milk in a pot until it doesn’t burn the finger, but it still feels warm. If the milk is too hot it won’t activate the yeast but will instead destroy it, and the sweet bread won’t ever rise.
  • Butter. I use 100% unsalted cow milk butter, or Corfu-type butter, and the quantity is truly tiny when compared to most recipes. The best kind of butter is melted butter sold in a glass vessel, known as ghee butter.
  • Sweetener. I made the panettone-like Christmas sweet bread with honey but also with white petimezi. Another alternative is maple syrup.
  • Zest. You’ll need to add orange and lemon zest for their smell, or only one of the two. It’s important to make sure that the fruits you use for their skin aren’t waxed, and they should be organic. Finally, when removing their skin as a zest, make sure to avoid removing the white part, because it’s bitter.
  • Vanilla. A vanilla stick for the smell. Use only the inner part of the stick.
  • Dried fruits. First, let me tell you that in my trial runs, I used various dried fruit, but they all had something in common; they had no sugar. Strawberries, apricots, cherries, cranberries, mangoes, melons, raisins, Medjool dates, all chopped. Essentially, I had taken a “fruit salad” of dried fruit without sugar and used it as best as I could. What I consider a must is using Medjool dates and cranberries. You don’t need to put many in, whatever you happen to have or whatever you like is good enough.
 Christmas fruit sweet bread (panettone)

Tips

  • The dough is elastic and soft, it may stick on your hands, but with your hands lightly oiled, it’s very easy to knead.
  • It’s important to knead the dough for as long as I mention below.
  • If you don’t have a mixer, you’ll need to knead by hand for quite a while.
  • Temperatures differ from oven to oven, so check it often and adjust as needed.
  • The recipe makes sweet bread that’s less sweet than most sweet breads, but it’s incredibly tasty and has an amazing smell. The sweetener, though, is enough for a small child.
  • Of course, you can put the individual loaves in small paper forms and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • If you forget to include the dried fruit during kneading (yes, it happened to me), then you can add them after the first time it rises, when you fold the dough. That means, you open the dough in a square shape on an oiled surface and spread some of the fruit. Then, you fold in the middle, spread the dough with the hands again, and repeat for about 6 times, while making sure you add more chopped fruit during each folding.
 Christmas fruit sweet bread (panettone)

Some more festive recipes

Prep Time1 minCook Time40 minsTotal Time41 mins

 230 g lukewarm milk
 12 g dry yeast
 3 eggs, room temperature
 1 vanilla stick
 1 orange and/or lemon (not waxed), zest
 100 g honey or white petimezi or maple syrup
 550 g hard flour or tsoureki (brioche) flour
 40 g butter
 180 g dried fruit without sugar

1

Add the lukewarm milk with the dry yeast in the mixer and mix lightly.

2

Add the eggs and the sweetener and start mixing with the kneading hook at low speed for 2 minutes.

3

Add the flour slowly and continue in medium speed for 8–10 minutes.

4

While the mixer is kneading, melt the butter in a pot (avoid burning it), and when it’s melted, move it to a bowl to cool.

5

Chop the dried fruit at the same time.

6

After 10 minutes of kneading, add the melted butter and continue working the dough at the mixer for 5 more minutes.

7

Finally, add the chopped fruit and mix until they are integrated (1–2 minutes).

8

Oil or butter a large bowl as well as your hands, and with soft movements, remove the dough and move it to the bowl. It might feel like the dough sticks to your hands, but as long as you’ve oiled them, you’ll be alright.

9

Cover with a plastic wrap and a towel and let rise for 1 hour.

10

Deflate the dough and move it to a lightly oiled surface, forming the dough into a square.

11

Fold the dough in half, spread, and repeat for 4–6 times.

12

Move the dough to a panettone form. You want it taking up about 1/3 of the form.

13

Preheat the oven at 170°C.

14

Cover the dough and let it rise for 10–15 minutes.

15

When it’s double in size, coat with egg (optional).

16

Bake for 40–45 minutes.

17

Remove from the oven and let it cool on a cool surface.

Ingredients

 230 g lukewarm milk
 12 g dry yeast
 3 eggs, room temperature
 1 vanilla stick
 1 orange and/or lemon (not waxed), zest
 100 g honey or white petimezi or maple syrup
 550 g hard flour or tsoureki (brioche) flour
 40 g butter
 180 g dried fruit without sugar

Directions

1

Add the lukewarm milk with the dry yeast in the mixer and mix lightly.

2

Add the eggs and the sweetener and start mixing with the kneading hook at low speed for 2 minutes.

3

Add the flour slowly and continue in medium speed for 8–10 minutes.

4

While the mixer is kneading, melt the butter in a pot (avoid burning it), and when it’s melted, move it to a bowl to cool.

5

Chop the dried fruit at the same time.

6

After 10 minutes of kneading, add the melted butter and continue working the dough at the mixer for 5 more minutes.

7

Finally, add the chopped fruit and mix until they are integrated (1–2 minutes).

8

Oil or butter a large bowl as well as your hands, and with soft movements, remove the dough and move it to the bowl. It might feel like the dough sticks to your hands, but as long as you’ve oiled them, you’ll be alright.

9

Cover with a plastic wrap and a towel and let rise for 1 hour.

10

Deflate the dough and move it to a lightly oiled surface, forming the dough into a square.

11

Fold the dough in half, spread, and repeat for 4–6 times.

12

Move the dough to a panettone form. You want it taking up about 1/3 of the form.

13

Preheat the oven at 170°C.

14

Cover the dough and let it rise for 10–15 minutes.

15

When it’s double in size, coat with egg (optional).

16

Bake for 40–45 minutes.

17

Remove from the oven and let it cool on a cool surface.

Christmas fruit sweet bread (panettone)

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