So last year I had a terrible time baking panettone. I documented all my failures and frustrations here.
Naturally, I’d like to think I am wiser this year and tried again.
I’d like to report my effort is a success this year! It still isn’t 100%, there is probably still room for improvement, as it always is the case! Nevertheless, I still would like to share with you my success story!
I am determined to achieve success with the Wild Yeast Blog’s panettone recipe because it was the dough that smelled amazing and I am convinced that if I can get it to rise properly it will be amazing. I concluded the failure last year has something to do with the starter I used. So this year, I started with converting my Bubbly Bob (rye 100% hydration starter) into a white flour 50% hydration starter, aka Serious Bob. Since Serious Bob is gonna be stiff and uptight. I gave Serious Bob a good week of feeding, with plenty of time to fully develop in my colder-than-average kitchen. So here is what I have learned with this year’s experience compared to what I did last year.
1. I had no idea when the starter is ready.
When you mix up a batch of 2 flour: 1 water mixture, it looks like a fairly dry clump of… something. Chances are, some of the flour doesn’t even get mixed in with the water. Once I mixed it into an active starter, that dry lump is slowly, slowy (like, 10 hours slowly) integrated with the starter. The texture goes from a dull floury look to a wet softer one. That is when you know the yeast is working on it. I leave my starter be until all of the flour has turned into the gooey wet starter even if the recipe says feed every 12 hours. I find it takes up to 24 hours some day before the starter is ready to be fed again.
So last year, the starter I attempted to build? Was not alive…. or alive enough.
2. I didn’t build the sweet starter.
The sweet starter in the recipe calls for feeding every 4 hours. I simply don’t have the time to baby a starter like that. Even at 8 hours a feed I’d be finding it challenging. So what I ended up doing was just feeding Serious Bob as frequently as it is ready and I am able. So the smell of Serious Bob is not even sour to begin with, it is sorta…. fresh? It is a really lovely smell. I considered it good enough to use for my dough.
3. Osmotolerant Yeast
I found a place in Canada to buy the osmotolerant yeast so I used it. … I am not super convinced that 1g of it made a huge difference. But my first dough is SUPER bubbly and developed really really well. Actually in my search I came across this experiment and discussion between performance of SAF Red and Gold, have a look. Confusing conclusion, to say the least. So maybe this is a completely negligible factor? I don’t know. I have a large bag of SAF gold yeast now I might use for my future brioches just because I can. And my first dough, seen above before and after first rise, as you can see it seems to have risen properly, so… maybe it is the yeast? Or maybe it is a stronger starter, we will never know.
Here is one more set of comparison, the final dough before and after another 12 hours of proofing in the oven with the light and a tub of hot water on. It definitely tripled. Though not as high as the paper mold.
The ONLY trouble I came across is that because none of the listed time frame seems to be working for me in terms of starter feeding time, and rising time. I didn’t know if I end up overproofing my dough. It is really hard to tell. The dough, by the end of this 72 hour journey, looks sorta like a really wobbly liquid bubble. Also, I had no idea at the time the paper molds I got were a bit big for the amount of dough I was putting into it. So looking at how high it has risen also didn’t help to see if it is risen correctly. So I just crossed my fingers and baked them as is.
Let me show you some more sticky dough pictures.
This was pouring out the first dough after the initial 12 hour. Look at all those gluten strands. The dough is so sticky at just about every stage of working on it. You can’t keep clean hands, it does stick to just about everything,
That is why it is so amazing when a soft slack dough come together that it will … well still stick to the container it is in, but you can push it off with minimal effort.
The dough definitely sank a bit after baking, especially in the middle where you try to tuck a pat of butter under the cross you snipped on top. It definitely improved after hanging upside down in this hilarious fashion. This works! Do not skip this step!
I can’t stress how good this is! It is so soft. So fluffy! It smells so good, it tasted so good and It is SO DAMN SATISFYING TO GETTING IT ALMOST RIGHT THIS TIME.
So much so.
I made mini ones again the follow week. ….
And probably going to make it again next year. It might become an annual thing. Oops.