Homemade Christmas bread, full of cranberries and baked in a paper pan is reminiscent of store bought panettone, but the dough features whole wheat pastry flour and is prepared in a bread machine.
I was first introduced to panettone the year I lived in France almost twenty years ago. My French family lived in the south of the country and exposed me to all sorts of wonderful Christmas traditions, like the Buche de Noel. The Italian bread called panettone was another.
A few years after I returned to the States, I started seeing it available seasonally in specialty shops. Nowadays even the drugstore sells it. However, the bright yellow packages we’ve purchased have yielded some awful tasting bread. This year, rather than waste our money on those breads, I made a wanna-be panettone.
I hesitate to call my recipe panettone. While this has the fruit and the pretty paper, it does not involve the proofing and variety of candied fruit that is in the real deal. Consider this a delicious, American knock-off.
Please note that my cheater way involves a bread machine and two 4-inch panettone paper molds. But, you can form the bread dough in the traditional way and bake it in a bread pan if you prefer.
Cranberry Christmas Bread
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter cubed
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 egg
- 3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp lemon, zested
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup dried cranberries
To make the dough in a bread machine:
- Combine the ingredients in the pan of a bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set the dough cycle and turn it on.
To make the dough in a stand mixer:
- Combine the milk, butter, and sugar in a medium-size saucepan and warm slightly over medium heat. Transfer the mixture to the mixer bowl and add the yeast. Stir and allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes.
- Add the egg, flours, lemon zest, and salt. Stir to combine well. Attach the bread hook and knead until a smooth elastic dough is formed. Transfer to a greased bowl and turn the dough ball to coat. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
To make the dough by hand:
- Combine the milk, butter, and sugar in a medium-size saucepan and warm slightly over medium heat. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the yeast. Stir and allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes.
- Add the egg, flours, lemon zest, and salt. Stir to combine well.
- Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes to create a smooth, elastic dough, adding more all-purpose flour as necessary. Transfer to a greased bowl and turn the dough ball to coat. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
To form the loaves:
- When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in two pieces.
- Form each piece into a tight ball and place in a paper mold. Cover and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
- Lay two 4-inch panettone paper molds on a baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °.
- Bake the breads for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a rack before serving.