Catherine says: "Living in Ireland, I used to think of panettone as a very dry Italian Christmas cake until I tasted one that had been freshly made in Sicily. I was totally converted - I could easily devour half of one in a single sitting! I bake these as individual little panettone cakes for friends. They are so good served with a glass of dessert wine or even Marsala.

Ingredients

To Activate the Yeast:

  • 150 ml milk, warmed
  • 2 tsp fast action dried yeast

For the Dough:

  • 100 g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 175 g butter, melted
  • 3 tblsp rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100 g raisins
  • 4 tblsp orange juice or brandy
  • 100 g dark chocolate drops
  • 3 tblsp candied peel
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp water)

Method

Catherine says: "Living in Ireland, I used to think of panettone as a very dry Italian Christmas cake until I tasted one that had been freshly made in Sicily. I was totally converted – I could easily devour half of one in a single sitting! I bake these as individual little panettone cakes for friends. They are so good served with a glass of dessert wine or even Marsala.

  1. Place the warm milk and yeast in a small bowl and whisk together. Let it stand for 10 minutes. When the yeast is frothy, it's ready to use.
  2. Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a bowl until well incorporated and light, then add in the melted butter, rum and vanilla.
  3. Place the flour and salt into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add in the yeast and milk mixture along with the egg mixture and knead for 5 minutes on a low speed.
  4. Cover and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place until it has doubled in size, which will take about 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, soak the raisins in the orange juice or brandy in a small bowl.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Butter and line a deep 20cm cake tin. Make a 10cm collar with a double thickness of parchment paper and line the sides of the tin.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knock it back. Mix in the raisins, chocolate drops and candied peel and lightly knead for 3–4 minutes.
  8. The dough should be soft, so oil your hands well to handle it. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the tin. Leave it to rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  9. Brush the top with a little egg wash. Bake for about 55 minutes, until well risen and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack.
  10. As you slice through the cake, they will look like little jewels.

Note:

Add a handful of dried cranberries and reduce the raisins for a change