20 December 2011

Panettone (Panettini) di Natale

I'm Italian. It's December.
In Italy, this is the time of year for Panettone. If you're not familiar with it1, Panettone (tradizionale) is a tall, anise-kissed, sweet bread speckled with raisins and candied orange peel. Like most Italian baked goods, it's on the dry side2, but that's because it's meant to be enjoyed with a hot beverage or a sweet wine.

Panettone typically come wrapped in parchment paper stamped with gold designs; they're always cylindrically shaped, but they can come in different sizes. I think cupcake size is nice...

A twist on tradition: Vegan/GF Panettone Muffincakes
(Gold-printed cupcake liners, would've been amazing.)
When I was little, our home was never without Panettone around Christmastime. My father, who rarely strayed from his typical cookie/pastry Italian breakfast3, loved to have Panettone with his morning juice/ coffee. I, on the other hand, was not Panettone's biggest fan.4 It might have been the anise flavor or maybe the extra dryness of the store-bought ones. I'd always try to eat a piece, end up picking out the raisins, and leave the bread behind, which my father would happily finish.
These are Panettoni; I didn't make them.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)
It wasn't until I was older that I developed something of an appreciation for Panettone. Panettone, however, is not traditionally a vegan-friendly item.5 It is possible to make a relatively successful vegan Panettone. Gluten-free Panettone is much more difficult - those flat little imposters are never real Panettone. Gluten-Free and Vegan Panettone, is a near impossibility.

Making even traditional (egg & gluten-filled) Panettone is a long and somewhat challenging process. A truly authentic Panettone is made over several days - most of which are dedicated to proofing the dough. It's not easy6 to get it right either. So, after you've spent the last two days carefully preparing, proofing and baking, and your, still cooling, Panettone falls off of its hanging sticks and compresses itself, you're not left feeling the holiday spirit.7

Last November/December I was obsessed with Panettone. It all began with me wanting to make a healthier version for my father (and for my bff, who had been missing Panettone ever since he became vegan). It would have to be vegan, of course, but it didn't need to be gluten-free. I wanted it to be as unrefined as possible, but Panettone doesn't want to be made with whole grain flours.8 I must have made 45,000 Panettone over the course of one month. Each time, I got the flavor right, it was the consistency and rise that became the bane of my existence.

I learned a lot about Panettone last year.

This year, I decided that I don't need to make the perfect vegan Panettone. I couldn't eat said (gluten-ey) Panettone anyway, and I had other simpler, ideas... Knowing that I could get the flavor right, I set out to make vegan, gluten free, tastes-like-Panettone... cupcakes!! Yes!!!

I decided not to call them cupcakes; they're kinda somewhere between a cupcake and a muffin. This also means they don't have the "bready" consistency of Panettone (just an eff-why-eye).  Anyway, I've decided to call them muffincakes. Maybe it's not the most creative thing I've ever come up with, but whatever.
Just like Panettone, these little guys can be eaten for dessert and/or breakfast.9 Muffincakes are not as sweet as one would expect of a traditional cupcake, which is perfect, if they want to be Panettone.
They do want to be a Panettone (or since they're small, Panettino). They're trying their best.

Panettone Muffincakes
(makes 6 Panettini)
  • 1 Cup + 2 Tbsp (145g)All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I used my own blend)
  • 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 3/4 tsp Ground Anise
  • 2 Tbsp (35g) Coconut Nectar (or 1T + 2tsp Agave; you can also use Coconut Sugar, but it will give your Panettoni a caramel color)
  • 1 Chia Egg (1T (5g) ground chia + 3T (30g) filtered water)
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Earth Balance Coconut Spread 
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp (60g) Raisins (soaked in 2T of water or orange juice)
  • 3 Tbsp (30g) Candied Orange Peels (I made my own - YAY! to no refined sugar; it's really simple.)
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk ( I used So Delicious Coconut Beverage; you can sub anything except for rice milk - it doesn't work quite right.)
  • 1 tsp Vinegar (I always use Bragg's)
  • 1/8 tsp Turmeric
Oven 350F/180C

Lightly grease a muffin tin with coconut oil or line with muffin cups.

Make up your chia egg in a small bowl or glass and set aside to thicken.
In a separate glass, mix coconut milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, vinegar and turmeric. Stir well until the turmeric has dissolved and the mixture has achieved a uniform yellow color.

In a small bowl, whip together the buttery spread and sweetener. Stir in the chia egg and set aside, while you combine the remaining dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl.
Whisk the dry ingredients to ensure they are well-combined, then stir in the soaked raisins and orange peel. Once the fruit looks evenly distributed, add the chia/buttery spread mixture, and mix until evenly combined and somewhat crumbly.  

Stir in the coconut milk mixture, until the batter is smooth. This shouldn't take long. Once you've added your liquid, try to work efficiently, so your leavening doesn't lose it's steam.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin; the muffin cups should be 3/4 full, or even slightly more (you want to try to get the muffincakes to be "tall"). Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the muffincakes to cool for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack - it's best not to let them cool in the pan, they'll get "sweaty".10

Enjoy them for breakfast with espresso, cappuccino or regular old caffè. OR after dinner with a bubbly glass of prosecco (espresso is nice too).

Create11 una Giornata Meravigliosa!

1. I'd guess you've at least seen the colorful boxes of Panettone on display in your local supermarket. They've become ubiquitous this time of year, even in the States
2. For most American tastes
3. Yes, Italians eat cookies for breakfast.
4. Although, I loved the fancy boxes in which it is packaged. 
5. Oh, the irony!
6. Something more like, tear-out-your-hair frustrating.
7. True story.
8. It didn't mind the raw sugar though.
9. What? Haven't you ever eaten a cupcake for breakfast? A Donut? Eh. Same thing.
10. Grotty
11. I'm not using Itanglish here. It really is create [kre'ate... (kreh-AH-teh)] (you, pl.; imperative)

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