I am actually happy that this bread recipe came up after some weeks had already passed from the holidays. I love eating all the celebratory sweets and goodies during the winter festivities, but to be honest, I may not have enjoyed the taste or the smell of this bread quite as much as now. Earlier in the book: The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Peter Reinhart gave us the pannetone recipe which was super (and I am not sure if it's the different alcohol soaked fruit, or the powdered sugar), but, I believe I liked this bread a little better than the former. However, Peter says that this recipe can double as pannetone as well. This is bread #36 in the Bread Baker's Challenge and you can follow along in the book if you have it, or you can find the recipe from a fellow baker here.
The night before, the sponge is made using warm milk , flour, and I used "Adam", my wild yeast to get things going. Cover and let ferment until foamy bubbly and when tapped on the side, it collapses.
After putting the sponge aside, soak a combination of dried fruits with alcohol. I used dried papaya, golden raisins, and dried cranberries soaked in Grand Marnier liquor, and orange extract. Cover, and toss after a few hour to make sure the alcohol is distributed evenly and all the fruit has soaked up the lovely juices.
The next day, mix together the flour, water, sugar, egg, salt, orange and lemon zests, along cinnamon and butter to form a "tacky but not sticky" dough. Cover the dough at this point and let rest for 10 mins or so.
Next comes the mixing of the fruit into the final dough. because of the wetness of the soaked fruit, I found this step a little harder than I thought. The dough was left to bulk ferment and it took mine about 6 hours to almost double in size.
I took out the risen dough and then punched it down and divided it into two sections. As for the filling, Reinhart gives you the option of either putting blanched, slivered almonds into the center, or using marzipan. I went for the almonds and both sprinkled it over the top and in the middle before shaping into a crescent shape.
Fresh from the oven, the bread smelled delicious and was ready for the oil to be bushed on top before so the powdered sugar can stick.
Sprinkle the powdered sugar wile still hot, and Reinhart's instructions were to "generously" coat the bread with the sugar. This seemed to be an important step because the heat of the loaf seemed to melt away the sugar. So, I added even extra after a minute or so. the book tells you to wait an hour before digging in, but I found that to be difficult as well. I sliced it after 30 minutes.