I'm sure Rose and Woody read all the Alpha Bakers' posts and think "if these people just did what the recipe said, it would have been fine!" But there's always that difference of wording, and the variations of kitchens, so sometimes things just don't seem to be working out like the recipe says. I had a little of that here, but the results were still just fine.
I've made panettone before when doing the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, with Peter Reinhart's recipe. There are some similarities (beyond, "hey, it's panettone") and some differences, but the overall difference is that Rose's version is a much longer process to build more flavor in the dough. I compressed the schedule a little and used the shorter options in most cases: first because that's just what my schedule demanded, and second because I don't think I'm enough of a super taster to tell the difference between a biga that rested 3 full days vs. my 2-day version. It's just as well: I developed a cold before I got to the tasting part so I was definitely not getting many nuances.
The biga comes first. Several of us found that our results didn't quite match our expectations based on the recipe wording, which says to "stir" the flour, yeast, and water mixture, and again to stir it down after a first rise. Mine was a dough ball that had to be kneaded to get the flour incorporated, then again could be picked up and kneaded to de-gas it. In my use of the word, I couldn't have stirred it at all, though I might have taken a spatula and folded it over once in the de-gassing stage. Anyway, the biga got made Wednesday evening, rose at room temp overnight, then went in the fridge Thursday morning. I started on the dough Saturday morning to be able to bake it on the weekend.
Next up wasn't the dough, however, but cutting up the fancy candied orange peel into 1/4" bits, and mixing it and some golden raisins with Triple Sec, vanilla, and Fiori di Sicilia. Rose's recipe called for either orange oil or grated orange peel instead of the traditional Fiori di Sicilia, which she finds leaves a bitter aftertaste. I made a stab at finding the orange oil locally but failed, didn't get around to ordering it from Amazon, and didn't feel like grating that orange from the fridge. Out came my Fiori di Sicilia...I don't notice any aftertaste myself.
In the next stage the biga got cut up, beaten into a sponge (batter), and the dry ingredients for the dough sprinkled on top. That sat at room temp to let the sponge get nice and active, during which it bubbled up in places through the dry ingredients. On to the KitchenAid for mixing with the paddle, not the dough hook, as this is a quite soft dough. Mine was softer than Rose's, I think, unless we have another of those interpretation issues. The recipe said the dough would not completely clean the bowl, and what I pictured based on baking Reinhart's recipes was the type of dough that mostly formed a ball around the dough hook or paddle, but stayed attached at the dimple of the bowl or fully at the bottom. My panettone pretty much stayed coating the sides of the bowl. Lots of nice stretchy strands to indicate that I had some good gluten formation, but not clearing the bowl at all, even after beating in all the butter. I decided it was too wet and added about another 1/4 cup of flour in tablespoon increments, but still didn't have a dough that came off the sides of the bowl. I called enough and let the dough rest before adding in the fruit.
After the rest, the recipe calls for turning out the dough onto a well-floured surface, adding the orange peel and raisins, and kneading those in using as little extra flour as possible. Well, I often (that is, in my weekly challah baking) handle my bread dough on a silicone mat with just a little oil or grease from the rising bowl. I'd already added extra flour to this dough, so I decided to try the no-flour approach. I ran the butter paper over my silicone mat and my hands, then turned out the soft dough from the mixer bowl. It worked just fine, even when the moist fruit got incorporated. I worked pretty quickly so the dough didn't have time to attach too firmly to my hands, and got it kneaded and dumped into a dough container for the first real rise.
The dough rose more than double in 1.5 hours--I should have checked at 1 hour but forgot. It moved to the fridge for 1 hour to let the butter incorporate and firm up, got folded over on itself to de-gas it, refrigerated for another hour, then formed into a ball and put it in a greased gallon bag and in the fridge again for an overnight rest. The next day I shaped the dough into a ball and placed it in a full-sized paper panettone mold. It rose for 3 hours to get the center just over theheight of paper. I snipped the X in the top and got it into the oven.
Baking was fine, but without any real oven spring as witnessed by my snipped X that looked about like it did going in. I think my paper mold is slightly larger than the recommended size, so perhaps I shouldn't have waited for the bread to rise to the top. The recipe calls for waiting at least 8 hours before cutting, but the cold led to a somewhat overlong 3-day wait before I sliced mine.
What tastebuds I had active during the cold thought it was very nice, with a decided orange flavor even though I'd used Fiori di Sicilia. I'd been wary of the concept of chocolate sauce on sliced bread, but though the textural contrast wasn't a favorite, the chocolate-orange synergy works nonetheless. (The chocolate sauce is a 1:1 dark chocolate ganache.) Sister-in-law took the leftovers to her Friday teachers' session and had one person who strongly disliked the chocolate sauce (a milk chocolate lover, I think), but at least one loved the whole combination. If I repeat this one, I think I'll swap those golden raisins for some chopped dried apricots--raisins just don't add a lot to me.