This classic Italian holiday sweet bread is a cross between a coffee cake and dessert that is now served year-round the world over. Lining the muffin cups with strips of parchment makes it easy to remove the panettones after baking. You can also prepare this recipe in traditional muffin tins for a yield of 18; trim the parchment paper for the muffin cups to 2 1/2 x 6 inches, and shorten the baking time to 20 minutes.
2 packages dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
1 1/4 cups warm water (100° to 110°)
5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh orange rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
How to Make It
Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon 1 1/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add to yeast mixture, stirring with a whisk to combine. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour.
Combine sugar, butter, rind, and salt in a large bowl; beat with a heavy-duty stand mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, beating until combined; beat in yeast mixture. Lightly spoon 4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 4 cups flour to egg mixture, beating at medium speed until smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 3 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky). Knead in cranberries and ginger until well incorporated.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
Coat 6 (1-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray. Cut 6 (5 x 12-inch) strips of parchment paper; place paper in muffin cups to extend 3 inches from the top of the muffin cups. Divide dough evenly among the muffin cups. Lightly spray each muffin with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with nuts. Let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size.
While muffins rise, preheat the oven to 375°.
After muffins have doubled in size, bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned.