I made the panettone yesterday. After all the fuss it was a straightforward process. Or would have been but for my impaired condition. Last week I got an infection in my finger, which then proceeded to swell up like a puff pastry and require lancing and draining by the doctor. The procedure was as foul as it sounds and has left me with a bulbous gauze dressing on my right ring finger, inhibiting culinary dexterity. So I had to knead the dough one handed, swearing prodigiously. It took twice the time it would have, but I was determined to make a panettone, gimpy or not.
The other obstacle to my endeavor was the absence of a panettone mold. These pastries are usually identifiable from a distance, voluptuous cylinders decorated with a colorful, ribboned belt, rising to a generous domed top. Seen from a shop window, they could be nothing other than this stylish Milanese delicacy.
However, the recipe I used warns that panettone molds are hard to come by outside Italy. Instead it suggests that you construct a makeshift mold by extending the height of a six-inch round, spring-form cake tin using a double layer of heavy duty foil lined with parchment paper. Not only did I lack a six-inch round spring form cake tin, the whole process seemed laborious and I didn’t feel dedicated enough to achieving the Italian shape. So I chose to roll my dough into a rope, join the ends, and place this large doughnut into a nine-inch chiffon cake tin. (Note: a chiffon cake tin, also called a tube tin, is a flat bottomed tin with removable base and a tube up the center, creating an “o” shaped cake after baking.)
I have to admit the result was not as aesthetically pleasing as the classic panettone, but in all other resects my pastry was equally delectable. It was soft, delicately sweet, and egg-rich, fragrant with sultry candied peel and dotted with plump golden raisins. After all, one mustn’t succumb to superficiality and judge a panettone by its shape. It is one of the injustices of life that we cannot all be blessed with that congenitally alluring Italian physique.