Panettone (Italian Christmas Bread)
3/4 cups raisins
1/3 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons hot water
3 1/4 all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
10 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
In a small bowl add the raisins, apricots, rum and hot water. Allow the fruit to soak at room temperature until plump and and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 1-2 hours.
In a kitchen mixer, such as a Cusinart fitted with a paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, lemon zest, vanilla bean seeds and mix on low speed until well combined.
In a medium bowl, add the eggs, warm water and honey and whisk well to combine. With the mixer on low, add the egg mixture into the flour mixture, mix on medium to blend. Add the butter and mix until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
Drain whatever liquid is still in the fruit. Using wooden spoon, fold in the fruit and the melted butter.
Place the dough in a large mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a cold oven with the door closed for 8 hours.
Take a 7×2-inch spring form pan. Line the edges with a piece of parchment paper about 8-inches in height. Tape or staple in place.
Once the dough has risen, place on a lightly floured surface and fold the dough into itself forming a large ball. Place the dough seam-side down into the prepared baking pan. Place the pan on a warm place on the counter and allow to rise for about 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the panattone baking pan on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours until lightly golden brown to he outside and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before slicing.