If you’re looking for a lower sugar treat for the Holidays, try my version of the classic Italian Christmas bread, Panettone!
The addition of sweet potato gets the yeast working quickly so you’ll get great flavor and texture. Chopped apple infused with the juice and zest of orange and a little bourbon gives subtle sour orange flavor without all the sugar of candied citrus.
Bake it in a classic Panettone mold, split the dough between two or three parchment lined coffee cans, or roll the dough into balls and bake in muffin tins or gem pans. I baked mine in a regular loaf pan so I would have great slices for making french toast!
My recipe calls for the addition of bread flour or 00 pizza flour. I prefer 00 flour (finely ground, but lower in gluten than all-purpose flour) as it helps with the light fluffy texture of this bread.
Bread flour has a higher protein content (so more gluten develops) and I like to use it when I’m also using whole grain flours in a recipe to help with lift. If you don’t have either 00 or bread flour, feel free to use unbleached all-purpose flour instead. You may need to add time to your rises to compensate.
You’ll know your loaf is at peak proofing and is ready to bake when you poke it with your finger a little and the dough does not spring back but holds the impression.
Sweet Potato Panettone
4 ounces whole milk
1/3 cup mashed sweet potato
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 jumbo eggs (or 2 large eggs and one egg yolk)
2/3 cup bread flour or 00 pizza flour
1/4 cup olive oil or softened butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup white wheat or whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup peeled, chopped apple
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
Warm the milk and sweet potato together on low heat (either in microwave or in small pan on stove top) just until warm to the touch (don’t let the temperature go over 115 degrees Fahrenheit).
Stir in one packet of active dry yeast (2 and ¼ teaspoons), cover loosely and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Mixture will get very bubbly.
Place the yeast mixture in large mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until incorporated. Add the 2/3 cup bread flour or 00 flour and mix for 4-5 minutes.
Now drizzle in the olive oil while mixer is on low speed. If using softened butter instead, add butter a tablespoon at a time. Add 2/3 cup white wheat flour or whole wheat flour, adding 1/3 cup flour at a time. Mix again for 4-5 minutes.
Add 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Dough should be slightly sticky, but cohesive.
Use spatula to push dough into a ball, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 2-3 hours.
Place chopped apple in a bowl with the ginger, orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup and bourbon. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to one minute (it should be hot but not boiling), cover and let it steep in the liquid while dough is rising.
Punch dough down and let rise again for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Punch dough down again and add fruit, kneading it in with hands. Let dough sit for 15 minutes. Then turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, push out into a 4 by 8 rectangle, flattening to 1-2 inches thickness.
Roll up dough from long side and place in parchment lined 8 by 4 inch loaf pan.
Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven in the last 10 minutes of rising to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake for 15 minutes, turn heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 30-40 minutes more. Loosely cover bread with foil or parchment if it begins to brown too much.
Remove bread from oven when loaf is golden brown all over and has a hollow sound when you thump the bottom. Lift loaf out of the pan by the parchment and let cool completely.
Slice and enjoy!