Fragrant, yeasty holiday panettone -- studded with colorful bits of dried and candied fruit -- is festive just to look at and sweetly satisfying to eat.
Classic panettone is just one way to get crafty this holiday season with homemade gifts from the kitchen. We've compiled 25 great ideas, ranging from quick and simple gifts (perfect if you're working with kids) to more intricate projects that call for a little extra time and patience.
Some gifts will last for weeks, perhaps more. Others are best eaten within a day or two.
Not only are homemade gifts a great way to save money during the holiday season, they're a thoughtful and creative way to show how much you care.
1 1/2 hours, plus rising time. Serves 12 to 16 (6 to 8 per panettone)
Note: From former Test Kitchen director Donna Deane. Panettone liners are available at selected baking and cooking supply stores, as well as online.
1/2 cup diced candied orange peel (1/4 -inch dice)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dark seedless raisins
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1. In a small bowl, combine the orange peel, golden raisins, seedless raisins and rum and let stand 30 minutes.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over one-fourth cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees) and stir until dissolved. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand until the yeast begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.
3. To the yeast mixture, add the eggs, egg yolks, remaining sugar, vanilla pod seeds and the salt. Beat until combined with the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, or with a whisk by hand. Beat in the flour until blended with a paddle attachment or by hand using a fork.
4. Beat in the softened butter (if not using a stand mixer, this may need to be done with your hands), a little at a time until dough has a glossy sheen and becomes ropey, about 5 minutes (10 minutes by hand).
5. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured board about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and let rise in a lightly buttered bowl until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
6. Punch down the dough and lightly knead in the macerated candied orange peel and raisins. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a ball. Place 1 ball into each of two 5-inch-wide and 3-inch-deep paper panettone liners on a baking sheet. Cut a cross on the top of each of the balls of dough. Brush the tops with melted butter.
7. Let the panettones rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Brush with butter. Put a second baking sheet under the panettones and bake in a 350-degree oven 30 to 35 minutes. When done, the panettones will be puffed and rich golden brown.
Each of 16 servings: 237 calories; 4 grams protein; 37 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 8 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 69 mg. cholesterol; 85 mg. sodium.
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