How to Skip the Kneading and Make Panettone Like a Profood

How to Skip the Kneading and Make Panettone Like a Pro

Editor's Note: This article and the accompanying recipe originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of 'Gourmet,' but both were lost to time and storerooms. When we learned that several Epicurious readers had saved their copies of the magazine or clipped the recipes explicitly to return to this version every year, we went digging through the archives to reprint the winning holiday bread technique. One of the most memorable Christmas presents of my childhood was the rich, sweet holiday bread called panettone. Packed in a glamorous red and gold box, it had been sent by a globe-trotting aunt "all the way from Italy," my mother said wistfully. It was delicious, and after it was gone, its bright box remained in a place of honor on the sideboard. That was long ago, but I still think of panettone as something special, which is why it never occurred to me that I could make it at home. Until, that is, Jim Lahey -- whose disarming mantra is "Bread Happens" -- came by to show us how easy it is. Lahey's breadmaking method is brilliant and foolproof because time does most of the work. In general, he uses very little yeast, so the dough ferments and rises slowly. He also makes an extremely wet, sticky dough that he doesn't knead by hand. ("The less you handle it, the better," he counseled.) Instead, he relies on that long rise -- a good 12 hours or so -- to bring the gluten molecules, which move more easily when wet, into alignment so they can knit together into a structure that's strong and elastic.