Shortly after Christmas, someone brought a commercial panettone to my office. It was one of those breads in a box that line the top shelves and promotional racks of supermarkets everywhere, and that I rarely consider buying because they have candied peel in them and are stale. This one was not stale. This one was soft and delicious and I ate it by the fistful, ignoring whatever lunch I had brought. I put it down next to the Chocolate Cuddle Cake and laughed inwardly at the success of my decoy as I ate all the panettone.
The only thing that was a little rushed for me was the bake itself--I was leaving for Boston the next day and had to get it done, well after midnight. Because of that, the final proofing was a little less thorough than I would have liked, and thus my cross on top wasn't pretty and the oven spring came close to a blowout. Inside, though, the crumb was consistent and light. There has been a lot of discussion about proper flours to use for some of the newer formulae in The Baking Bible. I take the flour suggestions as recommended and use my judgement, which is pretty well honed after years of bread baking. I don't always expect the exact same results that Rose predicts, but I appreciate knowing why she's made her choices and what the rationale behind each one is. Baking, like cooking, is a dialogue, and a participatory one. And panettone is delicious, although I don't really like candied orange peel and next time would probably leave it out. Then it's just basically brioche, I guess. I'm down for that. I think I've mentioned on this blog before that one of my favorite things ever is to sit down with a large loaf of squashy bakery challah and dip it into a bowl of milk. Brioche works too.