HOLIDAY BREAD: PANETTONE & STOLLEN
Richard Bourdon's Berkshire Mountain Bakery has been baking breads for 25 years, and recently, press has been very good: Earlier this year, Bon Appetit Magazine named the bakery as among the "Top Ten Bread Bakeries" in the U.S.; and the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" featured his Bread and Chocolate loaf.
For the holiday season, Richard bakes and giftwraps the traditional Italian holiday bread Panettone.
He begins by creating his own mix of raisins, candied orange and lemon peels, vanilla and honey.
Making Panettone is labor-intensive because the Italian levain (starter) is cultivated every 4 hours over several days prior to the final dough mix. This slow-staged fermentation creates a delicate flavor with an airy, light bread interior. Richard's attention to detail creates an exceptional Panettone.
His staff weighs out measured portions of the dough and places them in large paper rounds for baking. A stick pierces each of the rounds so the Panettone can be hung upside down after baking.
Once the bread has risen, it's coated with a cocoa and almond topping.
Powdered sugar is shaken over each Panettone prior to baking.
As soon as it's removed from the oven, the Panettone is hung upside down to keep it from collapsing on itself. Richard has developed a unique process for hanging the bread, and the image below shows staff hanging the Panettone upside down to cool.
Below is a photo of the Panettone hanging upside-down, shot looking up at the bread.
Once cool, the Panettone is wrapped and sent to market. For a list of markets see the Berkshire Mountain BakeryWeb site to order online or by phone from the bakery. (Notice in the sliced Panettone below that the cocoa moved to the bottom when it was poured over the bread early on in the process.)
Richard also bakes Stollen in November and December - a Dutch holiday bread with a candied fruit mix of raisins, apricots, chrystallized ginger, candied orange peel, orange and lemon zest, spices and rum. His Stollen also has almond paste inside it, and the photo below shows Richard preparing the almond paste for dividing and inserting in the dough.
The fruit mix is folded by hand into the Stollen dough until it's evenly distributed. After a rest, the dough is divided into portions, rounded into a boule shape and left to rise. Almost fully risen, a crease is pressed into the dough ball and a portion of almond paste is folded into the loaf.
Once baked inside the Stollen, the almond paste is rich, so it's often spread across a slice of the bread.