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Panettone is the Christmas dessert par excellence. It's a symbol of Christmas, of being with friends, of enjoying a moment of pure culinary pleasure. I didn't think it was possible to make a vegan version at the level of the traditional one but believe me when I tell you that it really is!
This vegan Panettone is super soft, full of flavor and absolutely perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea or a coffee.
This recipe is inspired by the following wonderful blogs that have also featured vegan panettone recipes: my personal trainer, giallo zafferano, avegtastefromatoz. Check them out if you need more inspiration.
Making panettone is an art, it takes time, patience and you need to pay attention to some steps. Before making the panettone I strongly recommend you to read carefully this blog post. I have tried to explain as best I can every difficult part of the recipe in order to help you avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Where did Panettone originate?
Let's dive into the beautiful world of Panettone. Shall we? Do you know where it comes from? The answer is simple: Italy. More precisely, it was born in the Middle Ages and it is connected to the tradition, which was in force at that time, of preparing very rich breads for Christmas, which were served by the head of the family to the guests.
Is Panettone vegan?
Panettone is made using butter and eggs. This means that traditional Panettone is vegetarian not vegan. That said, the vegan Panettone you'll make using this recipe is going to be just as delicious!
To make this vegan Panettone you will need 13 ingredients and between 1 and 2 days of time (depending on the room temperature). I know it sounds like a lot of time but you will only need to actively work for about 45 minutes. The rest is just rising time.
These are the ingredients you'll need:
- strong bread flour with 15.5% protein, W 460 (in Italian we call it Manitoba flour, click here to check it out)
- caster sugar
- soy milk
- vegan butter
- brewer's yeast
- organic oranges
- organic lemons
- vanilla powder
- candied oranges (optional)
- almonds (optional)
- aquafaba (optional)
- pearl sugar (optional)
Sourdough or Brewer's Yeast?
Traditionally Panettone is made using sourdough, but since few people have it at home and know how to use it, I preferred using brewer's yeast.
What kind of flour is used for Panettone?
Using the right flour for this recipe is essential. Panettone is a pastry rich in fats and with a substantial weight, therefore we must use a flour with 15.5% of proteins per 100g of flour.
In Italy this kind of flour is called Manitoba and it has a W value equal to 460. For those who don't know, The W value indicates the strength of the flour and therefore the quantity of proteins it contains per 100 g of product. A value of 460 is equivalent to 15.5 grams of protein per 100 grams of flour.
Why is it important to use a flour with so much protein? Because when we add water to a protein rich flour it causes the hydration of two types of proteins: gliadin (responsible for elasticity) and glutenin (responsible for stability and strength). The hydration of these two leads to the formation of what we call a gluten network.
The gluten network is able to do two important things: it helps the dough rise by trapping the gas bubbles formed during fermentation and it keeps the structure of the dough intact preventing the collapse of the dough once filled with air bubbles.
Because Panettone is rich in fats, the flour we use must be able to create a gluten network able to sustain the weight of the pastry without collapsing. That's why this recipe only works with a strong white flour.
How to make strong flour (if you can't find it)
This seccion is ONLY for those of you who can't find Manitoba flour anywhere! If you found it, go to the next part of this blog post (you lucky bean!).
Finding Manitoba flour or a flour with 15.5% of protein can be a struggle. After racking my brain for days on how to get it, it occurred to me that maybe I could make it myself. In fact, I had a package of vital wheat gluten powder in the kitchen just waiting to be used. So I basically fortified my flour by adding vital wheat gluten powder.
That's how it works (we need to do some math, sorry). For this recipe we need 400g of strong flour with 15.5% protein. The all purpose flour I use contains 11 g of protein per 100 g of product. So my flour is missing 4.5 g of protein per 100 g to be considered strong. So to have 400 g of strong flour I have to add 18 grams of protein.
The packet of vital wheat gluten powder I have has 75 g of protein per 100 g of product. So to add 18 grams of protein to my 400 g of flour, I have to add 22.5 g of vital wheat gluten powder. And that's how I fortified my flour!
What happens if I don't use strong white flour?
The gluten network won't be strong enough to hold all the air bubbles, which will cause them to break and form a giant hole in your Panettone. Been there, done that 🙂
Can Panettone be made gluten free?
I've never done it gluten free. Yet I found this recipe and it looks very promising!
My recipe can definitely not be made gluten free though (for now), sorry.
A strong gluten network is the key for success when it comes to Panettone. But how do we form it? Simple, by kneading the dough. Kneading causes the gluten strands to become stronger and longer, which basically means: the more the dough is kneaded, the stronger the gluten network becomes.
Unfortunately, this process cannot be done by hand. I've tried several times and have never been able to create a dough with enough strength. They all collapsed in the oven.
This unfortunately means that you can only make Panettone if you use a food processor or a kneading machine to mix the dough.
How to know if the gluten network is strong
To know when the gluten network of our dough is strong, we have to knead our dough -with a food processor or kneading machine- until it starts building strings (like the ones you see in the two pictures below).
In Italian we say "the dough si è incordato (eng. "it has built strings") when this happens. Also the dough will be super elastic and almost unbreakable. By pulling a portion of the dough with your fingers it should form a thin almost transparent veil. If it breaks while doing so you have to keep on kneading.
I don't have a kneading machine nor a food processor, what can I do?
If you don't have either of them you can make mini Panettoni. In this case, the dough will not need to be particularly strong because the panettoni will be small sized.
That's how you do it: Once the dough is done, instead of letting it rise in the panettone mold, divide it into about 15 ping pong ball sized balls. Add about 15 ramekins to a muffin mold and place a ball of dough in each ramekin. Cover with film and let them rise until they have doubled in size. Brush them with almond glaze and bake them in the oven at 180 °C (360 °F) for 15-20 minutes. They will be delicious!
Using a food processor is the quickest way to make a Panettone. In fact, in just a few minutes it's able to make an elastic and smooth dough with a strong gluten network. The only problem is that, unlike a kneading machine, it tends to heat up the dough.
The bacteria in the brewer's yeast (responsible for the rise of the Panettone) die once the environment reaches 38°C. The death of the yeast is the death of your Panettone. Long story short: you really want the bacteria to stay perfectly healthy. So do not overheat the dough. If you notice that while you knead it, it gets warm, let it cool on the balcony for a few minutes or place it on a cold surface.
When it comes to Panettone there is one glaze that I absolutely love: almond glaze. Made with only 4 ingredients: almonds, sugar, aquafaba and pearl sugar. This glaze is crunchy, perfectly sweet and it tastes like roasted almonds! It's absolutely mindblowingly perfect! Don't skip it! You'll thank me later!
If you want the replace the almonds you can use hazelnuts or pecans.
Candied fruits are either loved or hated. I'm crazy about candied oranges so I add them. If you don't like them, however, you can omit them or replace them with dark chocolate chips.
Some people also add rehydrated raisins (I don't). If you want to add them just soak them for 30 minutes in hot water, squeeze them well and add them to the dough together with the candied oranges.
Making this delicious vegan Panettone takes about 2 days to prepare (depending on the room temperature). In my flat I allow the dough to rise at about 21 °C, next to a radiator and this is the timeline that works for me:
- Day 1 / 8:00 am: make the first dough.
- Day 1 / 9:30 am: make the second dough
- Day 1 /14:30 pm: make the third dough
- Day 2 / between 14:30 pm and 20:00 pm: baking
If you can allow the dough rise in an oven with the light on at about 25 °C - 26 °C the following timeline should work for you:
- Day 1 / 8:00 am: make the first dough
- Day 1 / 9:30 am: make the second dough
- Day 1 / 13:30 pm: make the third dough
- Day 1 / 18:30-19:30: baking
Rising time and room temperature
The rising time for each dough changes drastically depending on the room temperature and how active the yeast is. So take the rising time in the recipe with a grain of salt, it's more important to orient yourself to the growth of the dough than to the time spent.
I always take a picture at the beginning of each rise so I can tell how much it has risen. If you have an oven with a light, remember that you can let the panettone rise in the oven turned off with the light on. In this case you will always have a constant temperature.
The rising time indicated in the recipe are those more or less needed to let the panettone rise at 21 °C near a radiator.
I recommend using a 10 cm (4 inches) high Panettone mold with the diameter of 18 cm (7 inches).
If you don't have one, you can make one. There are lots of tutorials online. I never tried making one but I'm sure they'll do the job. Here is a cool tutorial I found: How do I make Panettone paper molds.
How to bake Panettone
Let's start with the premise that every oven is slightly different. In my oven, I bake the Panettone at 180 °C (360 °F) for 60 minutes in the lowest rack of the oven.
After the first 15 minutes I cover the top with foil to prevent it from burning. The Panettone is perfectly baked when the center reaches 95 °C (200 °F) (I've never had to check the temperature of the center tbh).
Do I have to hang my Panettone upside down?
Traditional Panettone is flipped upside down once baked until it cools. This prevent it from collapsing. I've never done it with this recipe and the result is amazing. So you can skip this part.
How to store Panettone
Panettone should be wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a zip-close bag. It can be kept at room temperature for up 5-7 days. For longer storage, wrap tightly in film and freeze. Defrost it in the refrigerator before toasting it the oven (160 °C, 320 °F) for 5 minutes.
More Delicious Desserts
- Italian Custart Tart (Torta della Nonna)
- Super Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Extra Fudgy Vegan Butter Beans Brownies
Have You Tried This Recipe?
If you try this recipe let me know! You can leave a comment, rate the recipe, and don’t forget to tag a photo #carlocao or #vegaliciously on Instagram or Tiktok!
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