Saturday, March 29, 2008

Colomba di Pasqua

(or, Panettone by any other name would taste as good)

Susan's BreadBakingDay #8, on celebration breads, kept me from just wimping out on this one despite my work schedule the week before Easter. This was really just an excuse to resurrect (no seasonal pun in questionable taste intended, I swear) my Christmastime panettone obsession. Easter gave me the opportunity for further "research," using the Italian tradition of dove-shaped Colomba di Pasqua as my excuse to present panettone again in dove's clothing. I used Peter Reinhart's panettone recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice this time. It's a bit drier than the panettone I made at Christmas from Susan's recipe, and starts with a milk-based wild yeast sponge. The process is a bit abbreviated, as well. But the butter/egg bakers percentages are not too far off.

I followed the recipe even more faithfully than I had planned to. It calls for all-purpose flour, and I was planning to use the King Arthur High Protein (14%) flour that had been so successful at Christmas, but by Saturday morning (Easter Eve) I was practically brain-dead, and, well, I _think_ I used all purpose. I definitely didn't use the High Protein. And there wasn't enough bread flour gone. So, yeah, I think it must have been the all-purpose. But it didn't seem to affect the outcome.

Fortunately. Because there was a point after I added the rum, fruit and butter, when I would have put the chances of this dough ever passing the windowpane test close to nil, but it was ok. I did add just enough (definitely high-protein this time) flour to get it to clean the sides and bottom of the bowl (probably about 1/4 cup). And I also didn't add much of the 4 tbsp of water the recipe instructs you to add to get it to form a dough. I think total kneading time (in the mixer... I definitely didn't do this by hand) wasn't really much more than 10-12 mins, and the gluten ultimately developed just fine.

It ended up being softer and tackier than, say, Reinhart's cinnamon roll dough, but not quite as soft and wet as the panettone dough from Christmas.

Shaping was sort of seat-of-the-pants. I was happy just to get it to kind of look like a bird of some kind. It definitely didn't have any kind of surface tension.

I definitely needed a larger pan, though. After transporting it (during fermentation) to my parents', and picking up my sister and her fiancee on the way (and discovering that my sister had, not entirely unreasonably, mistaken the box on the back seat for just another of the random pieces of junk that tend to decorate the interior of my car and put her purse down on top of it... :) ) it needed a little poking back into shape. It was just kind of a big, puffy mass by that point (with a bit of an... indentation... in the middle from the purse) and would not really have been recognizably avian without the strategically applied almond "feathers". I just kind of re-shaped the head, dug the cherry "eye" out of the middle of the dough and put it back where it belonged, and stuck it in the oven (where it puffed up even more).

It was pretty delicious. Comparing it to the Christmas panettones, the results were closer to the panettone from Settepani in Brooklyn than the panettone I made, which was much softer and more ethereal. This had a more distinct chew and rope to it, but it met with the Mom Seal of Approval. So I think this is what I'll go with. It did dry out more quickly, however (and definitely picked up an odd metallic taste when stored in aluminum foil, which I think is kind of a Bad Idea anyway). But I guess that just means we'll have to be sure to eat it right away, which, let's face it, shouldn't be a problem.


Susan said...

Wow, how beautiful! It definitely is recognizable as a bird, probably even so without the almond "feathers," but what a brilliant bit of garnishing. Thanks for not "wimping out" -- so glad to have you at the BBD table!

SteamyKitchen said...

So pretty! love the feathers!