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- 2 cups dried cherries
- 3⁄4 cup brandy or cognac
- 1⁄3 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
- 2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast, divided 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1⁄2 cup warm half and half (105° to 115°)
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks, divided
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3⁄4 cup butter flavored shortening, softened
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1⁄4 sliced almonds
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the cherries and brandy. Microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds; re- move, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the water and 1 envelope of yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 7 minutes. Stir in 1⁄2 cup flour; cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
- In a separate small bowl, combine the milk and remaining envelope of yeast; let stand until foamy, about 7 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Add milk-yeast mixture; whisk to combine, and set aside.
- In a large bowl and using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat shortening, remaining 21⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, and 1 cup bread flour until crumbly. Reduce mixer speed to low; gradually add milk-egg mixture; beat until smooth. Add the flour-yeast mixture, and beat at high speed until dough has an elastic texture, about 5 minutes (dough will be sticky). Strain cherries, and add to dough, stirring until well combined; discard brandy.
- Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray; cover dough completely. Let dough stand in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Divide dough into 12 equal portions (approximately 4 ounces per por- tion). Knead each portion a few times; roll into balls. Place each ball into a miniature paper panettone mold*. Transfer molds to a baking sheet, and loosely cover dough with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick spray. Let stand in a warm, draft-free area until dough reaches top edges of paper molds, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°. Place rack in lower third of oven.
- Sprinkle tops of loaves with sliced almonds. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°; bake until tops are golden brown and rise slightly above rims of paper molds, about 15 minutes. Cover with tented aluminum foil to prevent tops from getting too brown, if necessary.
- Transfer pannetone to wire racks to cool completely. Serve warm, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- *For testing purposes, our test kitchen used Bake and Give Mini Round Pans from kingarthurflour.com.