Monday, January 16, 2023

Whole Banana Sourdough Bread #BBB

I'm sure there were a few raised eyebrows when the recipe reveal for this month included the use of an entire banana, peel and all.  Add to that a wild yeast version and this looked to be a real challenge.  Of course we Babes are always allowed to tweak as we see fit.  Not everybody is a banana person even.  Here in the US we generally only have Cavendish bananas available. I had heard this before, and it's quite an interesting story about the source of artificial banana flavor being different than what we get in the grocery store.  That's because banana flavoring was allegedly based off a different variety of banana!  (That was the Gros Michel, or the Big Mike, and I am one of those that adores artificial banana flavor, especially banana popsicles).  It may or may not be true, but certain varieties have indeed been wiped out here by fungus and so we have just the Cavendish typically.  And other varieties of imported bananas are necessarily shipped green for keeping and therefore not truly comparable to the freshly harvested ones available regionally.  I still remember the insanely flavorful and sweet little red finger bananas we got off the canoe in our overwater bungalow breakfast delivery in Tahiti, 24 YEARS ago.

Now for this recipe, don't worry about the compost bin as the entire banana is used, peel and all.  Excepting the stem and blossom ends!  To facilitate this process, the banana is frozen and the peel pureed with liquid.  I do recommend a decent portion of the liquid so you get the finest particles of peel possible.  I had thought the peel contained resistant starch, but I think it is mostly just good old fiber.  It is green bananas that have a large amount of resistant starch.  Both are good for you.  For my tweaks, I made my dough sweeter and added a touch of yeast to compensate, and more flour to offset the sugar, which is technically a liquid ingredient.  And in the interest of greater banana flavor, I added a peeled banana to my filling mixture, reducing the butter a little.  That was a tasty choice.  There was a little flour added as well to stiffen up the filling a bit.  And for shaping, I decided on  both the butterfly buns and a babka style loaf.  This is a fairly slack dough, so a little challenging to maneuver, but it all came out pretty well!  The buns are delightful as a breakfast pastry, heated and topped with a little butter.  What a treat.  The babka is soft and subtle and I want to try it as french toast, though it is sublime toasted with butter.  Yes, I am a toast freak.

Thanks Elizabeth for this very distinctive recipe!  We would love to have you try out this unique bread with us this month and share how it turned out!  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Wild Banana (peel and all) Cinnamon Bread (or Buns)
based on a recipe in the "Tassajara Bread Book" by Edward Espe Brown, with notes about the recipe from "Bread Alone" by Judith Ryan Hendricks, and the method for using ALL of the banana in the Washington Post's recipe for "Don't Peel Your Banana Bread" (quickbread)

    1 ripe banana, washed thoroughly, and frozen


    50 g (98 ml) whole wheat flour (I just used AP)
    50 g (50 ml) water
    spoonful (~15 g) wild yeast starter from the fridge


    410 g (3 + 1⁄3 c) unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted (I used about 490g)
    10 g (1 Tbsp) buckwheat flour
    12 g (24 ml) wheat germ (I used golden flax meal)
    30 g (30 ml) plain yogurt (I had grainy sour cream to use up)
    170 g (170 ml) water
    2 Tbsp (27 grams) vegetable oil
    all of the leavener from above (I added ½ tsp instant yeast to support the extra sugar)
    banana from above, thawed
    14 g (1 Tbsp) brown sugar (I increased to 6 tbsp)
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    8 g (generous 1 tsp) sea salt + 10 g (10ml) water

Filling (I would probably make more next time, even with the addition of the banana)

    60 g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted (I reduced to 2 tbsp and added one peeled banana plus a
                                                                  couple tbsp flour)

    28 g (2-3 Tbsp) brown sugar
    25 g (2 Tbsp) white sugar
    ground cinnamon (or a mixture of ginger and cinnamon), to taste
    pinch of salt, to taste
    handful or two of pepitas and/or raisins, optional

Glaze (optional)

~1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

    prepare the banana: Two days before baking the bread, thoroughly wash a well ripe bananas (nicely spotted).  Dry the banana, then cut the stem and bottom edge off (discard or compost), and place the banana in a freezer bag to freeze. The next morning on the day before you plane to bake the bread, take the banana out of the freezer and put it (still in its freezer bag) into the fridge to thaw.

starter: The night before baking: mix leavener ingredients in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on if it's cool at night, (or with the light turned off if it's warm in the kitchen).
dough: On the morning of baking:

test the leavener: see if a small spoonful floats in a bowl of cool water. It probably will.  If the leavener has fallen, sprinkle in a little more whole wheat flour and the same amount by weight of water. Stir, cover and let rest for about 30 minutes to check again.  When it floats, proceed with making the dough.

dry ingredients and starter: Sift the all-purpose flour into a mixer.  Add the buckwheat flour and wheat germ. Add yogurt, ripe starter, brown sugar, egg, 70 grams of the water, vegetable oil, and salt to the bowl.  Knead to make a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter while preparing the banana.

        banana: The Washington Post's "Don't Peel Your Banana Bread" recipe is based on the recipe for Zingerman's Bakehouse Banana Bread. That recipe has the best explanation for how to prepare the bananas for the dough itself:

        1. Prepare the bananas. [...] Defrost. As the bananas freeze and defrost they will turn black. They do not need to be black prior to freezing. [...] Puree until they are a smooth paste. You may see tiny dark specks of the peel. This is fine.

I pureed my banana after cutting into chunks, using a blender.  I had added all my water to the initial dough but would recommend saving out 100g to help puree the peel.  An immersion blender in a narrow jar will work as well.  Add puree to the dough that has been resting.

Knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is very smooth and glossy and the gluten is well developed.  It will be a little sticky and slack, but will form up nicely when handled.

filling: melt the butter and allow it to cool to room temperature. Combine with the sugars and spice in a bowl.  Mix in an additional banana and a couple tbsp flour if desired.  Cover and set aside at room temperature.

shaping: when the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured board. Divide into 2 equal pieces.

I picked out any particularly large pieces of peel that I saw.

loaves: Gently shape the dough into flat rectangles that are about 2 centimeters thick. Smear the filling over each rectangle and roll like jelly rolls, from the narrow side, to make 2 loaves. Put the rolls seam side down in parchment paper covered bread tins. Run your hands under water and gently wet the top of the shaped bread. If you're using them, scatter pepitas on top. Cover the tins with a damp clean tea towel and let rise at warm room temperature until almost double. To test if it has risen enough, flour your finger and press gently on the edge - it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.  I chose to turn my jelly roll into a babka shape by cutting the roll in half lengthwise and then crisscrossing the two strands, keeping the cut side up.  This is a slight challenge to transfer to the pan since the dough is quite soft, but it's doable.

instructions for shaping and cutting buns

buns: Using a lightly floured wooden rolling pin, roll one of the pieces, as thinly as you can, into a long rectangle. Evenly slather the top of the rectangle with half the melted butter and half the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll the rectangle up as tightly as you can to form a long tube. Cut diagonally and use a chopstick to press down the centers so that the spiral flares out. Place well apart on parchment covered cookie sheet. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover the shaped buns with a damp tea towel and let sit in a warm, non-drafty spot until they have almost doubled. *

preheat the oven: A half hour before baking, turn the oven to 375ºF for a loaf or 350ºF for buns.

bread: Just before baking, mist or sprinkle the tops of loaves with water. Bake in the center of the oven.

baking: Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the loaves are golden.

buns: Bake the buns in the center of the oven.  You may wish to double up the baking sheets to prevent the bottoms from overbrowning.  Half way through baking, rotate the sheet to turn the buns around.

cooling: For buns,remove them with the parchment paper to a wire rack on the counter to cool completely.  For bread, let sit for 5 minutes in the pan, on its side, then remove it from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.  The bread should be 190ºF internal when done, or sound hollow when thumped.  If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.

Believe me, those little bits of filling that spilled out were delicious!

Babka is just such a gorgeous loaf!

If you wish, add a thin icing sugar glaze to the buns and drizzle on the loaf.  I just took a couple scoops of powdered sugar in a bowl and just enough milk to make a thin coating and drizzle.

The bread is wonderful thinly sliced and toasted. The buns are an equally wonderful breakfast pastry, warmed and served with extra butter if you want.

Note from host kitchen for those avoiding bananas: Having gone through phases when, under no circumstances, will I even tolerate being in the same room as a banana, let alone eat one, it occurs to me that others will feel the same. Please feel free to use another fruit instead (omitting the cinnamon swirl if it doesn't make sense). For instance, I have made fabulous muffins that include a completely pulverized naval orange (peel and all). Dates and pecans go very well in them.

*It's amazing what you remember from your childhood...  Back in high school, I subscribed to one of those baking recipe binder filling things.  "Great American Home Baking".  They sent out monthly packets of recipes to you.  I got to a full second binder before deciding enough was enough.  But I do still have them, and I knew there were pictures of the bun shaping method in them.  Yup, exactly where I remembered.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Pineapple Sour Cream Coffee Bread #BreadBakers

Our BreadBakers challenge for this month was to bake a bread with dried fruit.  I have had this recipe bookmarked to try and though it was originally written to use apricots, I had dried pineapple to use up.  Both are delicious and I expect you could use any dried fruit here.  Obviously the pineapple doesn't show a lot of contrast to the bread, but it is still delicious if you love pineapple!

Note the difference in crumb when cutting completely cooled vs. still slightly warm. The two
left slices are cooled and the right slice and top pic was still a bit warm, yielding a shaggy cut.

This recipe comes from Sift magazine that used to be published by King Arthur Flour.
Oh, and if your sweet husband accidentally puts the sour cream in the freezer, all is not lost, you can still use it up in a recipe like this!  (PSA: sour cream is not freezer friendly.)

Pineapple Sour Cream Coffee Bread
makes 1 loaf

    ½ cup (4 oz) sour cream
    2 large eggs
    ¾ cup (6 oz) orange juice
    1 tsp orange zest
    3½ cups (14 7/8 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
    ¼ cup (1¾ oz) sugar
    1 tbsp instant yeast
    1½ tsp salt
    ¼ cup (1 5/8 oz) potato flour
    1 cup (4½ oz) diced dried pineapple
    1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for glaze (optional)

In a stand mixer or large bowl, combine all ingredients in order, except pineapple and egg wash.  Mix until a dough comes together and then knead in the pineapple.  Knead by hand or in a mixer until the dough is springy and smooth.  It will be slightly sticky still.

Cover the dough and let rise until doubled, about 1-1½ hours.

Grease a 9x5" pan.  (I used an 8x4" pan and the dough was a bit enthusiastic with that amount of yeast!) Deflate the dough, shape into a loaf and place into the pan.  Cover with oiled plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise until the dough has crested 1-1½" above the rim of the pan.  About an hour.

After about 30 minutes, heat the oven to 350ºF.

When the loaf has finished rising, brush with the egg wash to glaze if desired.  Score the top and bake for 45-50 minutes.  The loaf may be tented to prevent overbrowning if necessary.

The loaf is finished when it is a deep golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped.  Internal temperature should be about 190ºF.  Remove to a wire rack for 15 minutes and then remove from pan to cool completely.


Be sure to check out the rest of our fruited bakes:

  #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. 


Friday, December 16, 2022

Yeasted 'Corn' Bread #BBB


Once again, we have a yeasted corn bread up for baking!  Last time was 12 years ago, a Portuguese Broa loaf, and this time, we have a corn flavored bread that yields a crusty loaf with a chewy crumb and open structure.  It really makes a great English muffin style toast, actually better than some "English muffin" bread recipes I have tried!  We still try to avoid corn as much as possible even though our sensitivity is not too severe.  But it's also fun to come up with alternatives.  Babe Elizabeth thoughtfully informed us that "corn" as a descriptor covers "grain" in its UK definition and that gives me leeway to experiment.  I already know that millet has a great corn-like flavor and I heard that sorghum could be similar and add texture as well.  Sorghum is actually used to make tortillas in Central America, so...  For this bake I milled up some millet flour, and cooked sorghum and millet to replace the corn kernels.  Brilliant toast, and bonus, you can use sourdough discard!  It's a very sticky dough, not quite a batter bread, but with my changes and using all purpose, it was fairly loose.  I gave it a lot of kneading time to develop the gluten and it had great structure.  (I used a mixer instead of kneading by hand.)

Do go check out the beautiful, fully corn version at Karen's Kitchen Stories!  We would love to have you try out this chewy bread with us this month and share how it turned out!  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Yeasted Corn Bread
makes 1 loaf

425g (1¾ cups plus 1 tsp) 80 to 90 degree water (or water + kernel juice + cob broth)
100g (½ cup) sourdough starter/levain (fed or unfed)
400g (2¾ cups plus 2 tsp) bread flour (I used about 450+g of all purpose)
175g (1½ cups plus 1 tsp) corn flour (I used fresh ground millet flour)
175g (1 cup) corn kernels (optional) (I used a mixture of whole cooked sorghum and millet)
14g (2¾ tsp) fine sea salt
2g (½ tsp) instant yeast
30g corn flakes (optional)

Break up the starter/levain by mixing into the water in a large bowl or stand mixer.

Add the flours and corn kernels if using (plus ground husks if using).  Mix lightly by hand until incorporated.

Sprinkle salt and yeast over the dough, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes.

Mix with a wet hand and then stretch and fold around the edges.  Work in the salt and yeast with fingertips, followed by another stretch and fold.  Let rest a couple of minutes and then repeat the stretch and fold again a few times.

Over the next hour, repeat a stretch and fold every 30 minutes.  Cover the dough and let rise until it is 2½ to 3 times its original size but still domed and not flattened.  The dough will fill a tub to the 2- qt mark if using a marked measure.

Prepare a loaf pan by greasing with butter or spray oil.

When the dough is ready, gently turn out onto your work surface.

Roll or stretch the dough into an oblong shape and fold the ends in to the center like a package the width of the baking pan.  Roll the dough up jelly roll style to fit in the pan and place in the pan seam side up.  (I put it seam side down, because seam side down!)

Brush the loaf with water and sprinkle with cornflakes, if using.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour, until risen slightly over the top of the pan (if using a 10 x 5 inch loaf pan). 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Bake for about 50 minutes, turning halfway through for even baking.

Turn it out onto a wire rack and let cool at least an hour.  This loaf is even better with a longer rest time.

Toasted and buttered with some amazing Cranberry Sriracha Jelly which
brings out some great savory notes and complements the bread beautifully!


 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Scottish Black Buns #BreadBakers


Fruitcake usually seems to be a love it or leave it type baked good.  I have made many different kinds over the years because my family and my hubby's folks love it.  Honestly, I am not a huge fan of dark fruitcake.  But I saw this intriguing recipe in an issue of Sift and bookmarked it for a potential bake.  Scottish Black Buns are a centuries old tradition even if they tend to be a regular fruitcake wrapped in pastry nowadays.  But there are still bakeries that make the traditional yeast version described by Robert Louis Stevenson in his book Picturesque Notes on Edinburgh (1879) 

‘Currant-loaf is now popular eating in all households. For weeks before the great morning, confectioners display stacks of Scotch bun — a dense, black substance, inimical to life — and full moons of shortbread adorned with mottoes of peel or sugar-plum, in honour of the season and the family affections. ' Frae Auld Reekie,' ' A guid New Year to ye a',' ' For the Auld Folk at Hame,' are among the most favoured of these devices.’

The dense and rich fruit cake is often used for the ritual of first-footing at Hogmanay (New Year). 

“First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year!

It is likely for this reason that black buns go as well with a glass of whisky as they do with a cup of tea or coffee!  Today, black buns can still be found in the windows of the more traditional bakers. Alex Dalgetty & Sons, which are renowned for their Selkirk Bannock, make around 6000 black buns in the days preceding the festive period.  

So when the theme of Christmas breads popped up for BreadBakers, I knew this was the one to make.  Yeast makes a unique and in my opinion, better version of a dark fruitcake!  These little loaves, made in a jumbo muffin tin, are the perfect size for gifting.  And as befits a traditional fruitcake, their size belies their weight!  These are hefty little hunks of fruitiness, weighing in at just over 300g each!  (That's basically twice as heavy as the giant Costco muffins that weigh ~155g.)

This was a relatively easy recipe to make, though it did cost me some coins in the swear jar when I realized I had formed all my rolls and forgotten to add any of the spices into my fruit mixture!  So I had to carefully and painstakingly unwrap the bundles, turn/scrape out the filling and mix in the spices, then even more carefully wrap them back up.  Definitely a whole lot messier the second time around.  But they still baked up fine, thank goodness.  

The buns are just delightful in thin slices with whipped cream.  Particularly good just slightly warmed, I am dying to try a slice with some hard sauce but will content myself with semi melted vanilla ice cream in the mean time.  I am certain they would be wonderful toasted and buttered as well.  Despite the spices, these are not a strongly spice flavored bun, just a deeply fruity and dense yeast cake.  Very unique.

Black Buns
makes 6 buns
from King Arthur


    2 tsp instant yeast or active dry yeast
    1½ cups (340g) milk
    2 tbsp (25g) granulated sugar
    5 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
    1½ teaspoons (9g) salt
    8 tbsp (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature


    2 tbsp (43g) molasses
    1 large egg yolk, (save the white for the egg wash)
    1 cup (113g) dried cranberries
    1 cup (170g) raisins, packed
    1 cup (113g) prunes, diced
    ½ cup (74g) diced dried figs or chopped dates
    ¼ cup (85g) orange marmalade
    ½ cup (57g) almonds, sliced
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp cloves (I used ½ tsp because mine were fresh ground and potent)
    1 tsp ginger
    ½ tsp cardamom or mace
    ½ tsp black pepper
    2 tbsp (28g) whiskey

Glaze (optional)

    1 cup (113g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
    1 tbsp (14g) whiskey
    1 tbsp (14g) heavy cream
    ½ tsp vanilla extract

For the dough: Weigh the flour; or measure by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess with a butter knife or offset spatula. Combine all of the dough ingredients in a bowl or stand mixer, and mix and knead until a soft dough forms.  Cover and let rise until doubled, 1½ to 2 hours.

Divide the dough in half. Put one half into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Put the remaining half back in the mixing bowl, and mix in all of the filling ingredients. The mix will be quite sloppy at first, but a sticky dough will come together as you continue mixing.

Once the filling is mixed into the dough so that no streaks remain, divide it into six equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball as best you can; it will be sticky; wetting your hands first will help with this.  (I simply plopped piles down onto parchment, removing by weight for the 6 divisions.  Then the filling could be easily scraped back up with the back of a butter knife when moving to the wrapper.)

To assemble: Remove the plain dough from the refrigerator and divide into six equal pieces.  Form each into a ball, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Grease the wells of an oversized muffin pan, or line a baking sheet with parchment.

Roll each portion of dough into a 6" round, about ½" thick; make the edges thinner if you can (a tapered pastry pin is best for this). Place one of the balls of filling in the center, and bring the edges up and around to meet on the top, overlapping to enclose the filling as needed. Pinch the dough together and place, pleated side down, in the wells of the prepared pan or on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Cover the buns with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes. Halfway through the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Just before I realized I forgot all the spice.

At the end of the rise time (the buns will not have changed much), brush the tops with an egg wash of the reserved egg white beaten with a tablespoon of water. Score or poke the tops of the buns in a decorative pattern.

Not too bad for having been dismantled and rewrapped!

Bake the buns for 50 to 55 minutes, until the tops are golden brown (check after 35 minutes and tent with foil if needed).  The center should measure 195°F when measured with a digital thermometer. Remove from the oven, tilt them out of the pan, and cool on a rack.

To make the glaze: Whisk together all of the ingredients to make a smooth glaze; drizzle over the tops of the cooled buns.

Be sure to check out the rest of our Christmas treats:

  #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. 


Saturday, December 10, 2022

Small Batch Italian Anisette Cookies

These cookies make the rounds of pinterest and social media every so often, especially around holiday times.  Anise is one of those flavors that many people have strong feelings about.  They either pick out all the black jelly beans to throw out, or to hoard for themselves.  I love black licorice and anise has a licorice flavor.  Now I understand this cookie can be made with lemon or almond extract instead of anise, but I wonder why one would bother making an anise cookie if one wasn't going to use anise.  I do love almond and lemon flavor though, so whatever floats your boat.  This is an old Italian cookie and I wish I could have found the significance, if any, of the 'S' or twist shape but they are just as often made as round drop cookies.  I liked the twist best and went with that version.  The texture is very soft and tender, kind of like those frosted Lofthouse sugar cookies, only more so.  Hubby loved them.  I thought they were very nice and would love them with tea or coffee.  A beautiful, subtle licorice flavor, even with adding some extract to the icing.  My extract is decades old, I wonder if it fades...  Also, this is a much smaller batch because most recipes that I saw made about 5 dozen cookies and we don't need that many!  If you like soft, cakey cookies and licorice flavor, this is definitely a cookie to try out.

Italian Anisette Cookies
makes 1½ dozen

½ cup (113g) butter, softened
¼ cup + 1 tbsp (82.5g) sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tbsp + 2 tsp (38g) milk, room temp
2 cups (250g) all purpose flour
2 full tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground aniseed (optional)
⅛ tsp salt
⅔ tsp anise extract (I used ¾ tsp)


½ tbsp butter
1 cup (113.5g) confectioners' sugar
2-3 tbsp (28-42.5g) milk
⅛ tsp anise extract (optional)

Colored sprinkles

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.  In a stand mixer or large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Stir in the anise extract. Add the flour and milk, starting and ending with flour, in alternating portions of each until fully combined.  Dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
Using a medium cookie dough scoop or spoon and floured hands, take a 1½ tbsp portion of dough and roll into a long rope, about 7-8 inches long.  Shape into ‘S’ or twist shape on a parchment lined or ungreased cookie sheet: Coil into an oval and lightly pinch the ends together.  Twist/flip one loop up over itself to cover the seam.  Leave a couple inches between cookies as they will puff up as they bake.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove to cool completely on a rack.  When cookies are cool, frost and add sprinkles of choice.

Frosting: In a medium bowl, melt ½ tbsp butter. Add in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar.  Stir in extract is using, and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency for frosting the cookies.  Brush, drizzle, or pipe on cookies, apply sprinkles right away and return to rack to set.  Let cool completely and store in airtight containers.


If you want to make a full batch of 5 dozen:

Full batch:

    1½ sticks of unsalted butter
    1¼ cups granulated sugar
    6 large eggs, room temp
    ½ cup milk, room temp
    5-6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    6 generous teaspoons baking powder
    1½ tsp ground aniseed (optional)
    ½ teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons anise extract


    1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
    ½ pound of confectioners’ sugar
    4-6 tablespoons milk

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Panettone with Wild Yeast #BBB


At last, an excuse to make something that has been on my to-make list for quite some time!  This month our Bread Baking Babes have made Panettone.  This Italian sweet bread is a production to make authentically, taking several days to build and proof.  I have never tried the purchased versions I have seen in the shops in cardboard boxes and now having made one, I am curious if I would be disappointed by the commercial version.  Probably.  This bread (let's be honest, this is a cake, just a yeasted one), is totally amazing.  Looking at pictures, I figured it would probably be dry, but after choosing to go the longer route of making a "sweet" stiff starter, this bread turned out anything but dry!  You can see from the picture that I didn't let it cool completely and so it slumped just a little, but oh my wow.  Seriously, it tasted like a fruited sponge cake.  Totally moist and quite decadent.  (Actually, turning any stale leftovers into french toast is like making instant bread pudding in a fry pan.  Amazing.)


Let it cool completely so the structure doesn't collapse!

Completely cooled before slicing.
Nice and tall.

I did go for a different recipe than the shorter King Arthur based version that our host kitchen presented.  My only problem was not measuring my molds and finding out only at the end of proofing that I had divided the dough for the smaller molds I ordered and not the larger ones they actually sent me.  I caught the mistake in time to prevent overproofing, but ended up with shorter loaves instead of the crowning dome and mushroom top of the traditional loaf that would have presented had I made only two instead of three.  Oh darn.  Guess I will have to make more...  Might try the KA version, but I did so love how Alumni Babe Susan's turned out that I don't know if I could ever make a different one.  Be warned, there is no skipping steps or speeding things up with the method I chose.  It is chock full of butter, sugar, and liquid.  But with the correct application of extensive mixing and gluten development, I was blown away at how a batter-like, super enriched dough could still hold structure.  Here are Susan's notes on the matter:


  • Panettone requires a very disciplined mixing technique. If you’re not willing to be patient with the mixing, don’t bother.
  • Butter and sugar require strong gluten to support them. However, those thankless little ingredients also do everything they can to impede the development of that gluten, as does water. Therefore, these three things are mixed into the dough in a specific and controlled way.
  • Initially, the dough is mixed using only a fraction of the water, and none of the sugar and butter. Then the sugar is added slowly, in several increments, and the dough is further mixed until the gluten is fully developed. Only then is the butter incorporated, and only after that is the remaining water added.
  • This takes at least 30 minutes and on occasion has approached an hour.
  • When the dough is properly mixed and the gluten fully developed, you should be able to stretch it into a very thin, very smooth, translucent “windowpane.”
  • I am not kidding. Really. Seriously. Trying to hurry it along will only backfire and you’ll be mixing for three or four times as long. Don’t ask me how I know this.


You can see that the dough is sticky, but also the long strings of gluten.  If you didn't mix it per the directions given, it would be soup.

Then of course after the bulk proof, it looks rather unappetizing in its loose pile of dough and fruit.  But then it perks up nicely with some judicious tucking/folding.

That formless blob of dough shapes up beautifully and can be quickly transferred to the waiting mold.  Just make sure to measure your mold so you use the correct quantity of dough!  I used 500 instead of 750 because I ordered 5¼" molds and was sent 6" molds.  Makes a big difference volumetrically.

One other difference in the recipes is the use of a "glaze" in the Wild Yeast version.  It's amazing, crispy crunchy, even though I got Belgian instead of Swedish pearl sugar and had to break it up with my mortar and pestle.  I might use just a pinch of cocoa powder as my glaze seemed darker than Susan's, and I recommend a ½-1 tsp addition of water to make it easier to brush on the tops of the loaves.  But I would also try the quarter snip on the top of a loaf with a pat of butter tucked in next time as an alternate option.  I personally would forgo the blanched almonds on top as they are just hard to find.  I did add a few slivered almonds to one loaf instead.

Any way you slice it, Panettone is delicious.  I did make my own candied peel, being very disappointed in any purchased versions I have tried.  It's pretty easy and quite delicious, not to mention that you end up with a lovely citrus infused simple syrup!

We would love to have you try out this specialty bread with us this month and share how it turned out!  Will you try the easier overnight version or foray into building up a stiff starter and go for the Wild Yeast version?  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Below is the easier King Arthur version that I think most of our bakers used, the version I made can be found here.

makes 1 loaf
(Bake in 2 quart sauce pan)

    ¾ cup (90g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    1/16 teaspoon (just a pinch) instant yeast
    1⁄3 cup (74g) cool water


    all of the starter (above)
    2¼ cups (270g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    ¼ cup (57g) lukewarm water
    2 large eggs
    4 tbsp (57g) butter, softened
    ½ tsp Fiori di Sicilia flavoring OR 1 tsp vanilla + 1⁄8 tsp orange oil
    2¼ tsp SAF Gold instant yeast or 1 tbsp instant yeast
    1¼ tsp (8g) salt
    1⁄3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
    ½ cup (85g) golden raisins
    ½ cup (64g) slivered dried apricots
    ½ cup (85g) dried cranberries
    ½ cup (71g) chopped dried pineapple
    2 tbsp (28g) orange zest (grated rind) or lemon zest (grated rind)


1.  To make the starter: Combine starter ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, cover and allow to rest overnight (8-12 hours).

2.  To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the fruit and zest.  Mix and knead them together by hand, mixer or bread machine until you've achieved a soft, smooth dough.

3.  Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the dough is puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

4.  Gently deflate the dough and knead in the fruits and zest. (Soak fruits in hot/boiling water to soften. Drain before adding them)

5.  Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone pan or other straight-sided, tall 1½-2-Qt pan. Cover the pan and let the dough rise until it's just crested over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.  (It is helpful to line the pan with parchment paper.)

6.  Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake an additional 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Panettone should be a deep brown when done, should sound hollow when tapped, and will read 190°F at the center using a digital thermometer.

7.  Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely. Store at room temperature, well-wrapped, for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.

 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes