La Lama Mountain Ovens
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-American family - with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.
This is a cookbook-in-process project. If you try any of these recipes please let us know how they turn out, whether or not you had any difficulties, and any clarifying improvements you might recommend to make them foolproof. We will of course acknowledge genuine "test-kitchen" assistance.
Family Secrets #23
Christmas Pandoro Bread
By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens
breads make a wonderful alternative or addition to the
sweet tray. They are generally less sweet than cookies,
and because they are often dramatic in appearance they
make welcome last minute gifts as well. There is the
added advantage that they freeze well, setting you free
to enjoy the holiday in a more relaxed manner.
Recipes for celebration breads are as numerous as ornaments on the tree. Every Christian country has special breads for each religious holiday, with Christmas being primary. The Swedes have Lucia Buns, a delicate cardamom spiced roll, baked in honor of Santa Lucia Day (December 13th), the Germans have Stollen, a dense yeasted bread filled with candied fruits and dusted with piles of powdered sugar, the Scots have the Scotch Bun which is an enormously rich pudding encased in a buttery yeast dough, and the Italians have Panettone. After viewing the mountains of Panettone in every Italian deli and gourmet shop across America during the month of December one would surmise that this is the only sweet bread that is eaten in Italy for Christmas. It is undeniably excellent and most certainly Italian, but there are other pani festivi that deserve our attention.
Just as Panettone abound at this time of year, so do recipes for making it. Since you can easily come by this, we decided to feature a slightly lesser known regional bread called Pandoro. This is a Veronese specialty that shares with its cousin, Panettone as well as all celebration breads, the basic rich butter, egg, sugar, yeast combination. What differentiates each bread are the fruits, nuts, and flavorings as well as the beautiful shapes that are traditional to each.
Traditional Pandoro is a rather lengthy, complicated process which takes the better part of a day to complete. We have up-dated this process and have evolved a recipe that is simpler and faster, yet yields excellent results. Nonetheless the dough is rather difficult to work with because it is extremely soft and sticky; but with a little patience it should be no problem.
Pandoro is baked in a star shaped mold. If you cannot locate one in your cookware shop they are available through King Arthur's catalog (click on library and scroll to "recommended periodicals".
If you are unable to obtain citron you can substitute golden raisins. You may also substitute glaceéd fruits for the citron for a festive look but be sure to blanch them for 10 seconds in boiling water to remove the excess syrup. After blanching, pat dry on paper towels.
Ingredients for batter:
|Step One: Combine
Step Two: Make starter
Step Three: Dry ingredients
Step Four: Assemble the dough
Step Five: Panning and proofing
Step Six: Baking and de-panning
Here are a few tips to help you speed up the process and help you handle the extremely soft dough. When handling the dough make sure your hands and all the implements you use are well dusted with flour. Use your dough scraper as one "hand" when kneading. You may consider preheating your oven to "low" for 10 minutes and then shut oven off to make a good environment for the various raising stages. This can dramatically shorten the process time from start to finish. Another tip: make sure you do not open the oven to peek until the whole baking cycle is done. It is also critical to let the loaves cool to room temperature before de-panning the loaves.
Altitude Adjustment: None.