FOR STARTER (1 WEEK BEFORE BAKING THE PANETTONE): In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour. Add 3/4 cup room temperature water and mix together to combine well (mixture will resemble a batter). Cover bowl with cheesecloth and let stand at moderately warm room temperature for 3 days (mixture will emit a fermented aroma).
Uncover starter and stir together the mixture, then discard half. To the remaining starter, add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour and 3/4 cup room temperature water; mix together with hands to combine. Cover bowl with cheesecloth and let stand for 2 days.
Repeat the “feeding” process, once per day (discarding half of the mixture and combining the remaining mixture with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour and 3/4 cup room temperature water) until the starter is “ripe,” 1 to 2 more days; the starter is ready to use when it has tiny bubbles on the surface, smells sweet and lactic (like yogurt) and a small spoonful of it will float in water. (A starter can be kept indefinitely by continuing this process of a daily feeding.)
FOR POOLISH (NIGHT BEFORE BAKING THE PANETTONE): In a bowl, mix together flour, water and yeast. Let mixture stand at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours. If you are then not ready to use the poolish, cover bowl and store in refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
FOR DOUGH (THE DAY OF BAKING): In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, blend together flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup starter, all of the poolish, whole eggs, egg yolks and milk (remaining starter can be kept and fed for future bread making, or discarded).
With mixer on low, slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; mix until thoroughly incorporated, about 5 minutes. Let dough rest for 20 minutes, uncovered, on machine.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together currants, candied orange peel, honey, oil, orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla; set aside.
Cut butter into medium pieces; put pieces between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, pound to flatten. Return flattened butter to refrigerator. (Chad and Elisabeth refer to this step as “plasticizing,” which helps butter to incorporate quickly into dough for best texture.)
Mix rested dough on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes (dough will develop and should pull away from sides of bowl and be silky and smooth. If dough does not pull away from sides of bowl, add up to 1/4 cup flour with mixer running, by the tablespoonful, until it does). With mixer running, add butter, little by little, in small pieces, allowing additions to incorporate before adding the next, until all butter is incorporated and dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Remove bowl from mixer. Stir together currant mixture. Using your hands, add currant mixture to dough, mixing to fully incorporate. Transfer dough to a large plastic or wooden bowl, cover bowl with a dishtowel and let dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
Turn dough once, then cover and continue to let rise until dough has increased in bulk between 1 1/2 to 2 times its original size, 1 to 2 hours more. (Alternatively, let dough rise 30 minutes after incorporating fruit, turn once, then refrigerate, covered, leaving 2 to 3 inches space for dough to rise overnight or up to 18 hours, where dough will continue to ferment and flavor will deepen. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.)
FOR GLAZE (IF USING): Meanwhile, in a food processor, purée hazelnuts, confectioners sugar and flour until nuts are finely chopped and ingredients are combined. Add egg whites and oil; purée to combine to a thick, paste-like glaze.
Lightly coat paper molds with cooking spray; put molds on a baking sheet. Form dough into rounds and divide among molds to reach halfway up. If using glaze, dollop on top of dough and gently spread a bit with fingers (glaze will spread further during baking); sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar. Let dough rise at room temperature until it just reaches the height of the papers, 1 to 2 hours more (if dough has been refrigerated, it may take longer).
Heat oven to 400º with rack in middle. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through and tenting with foil if browning too quickly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a loaf reads between 190º and 200º, 15 to 17 minutes for 2 3/4-inch loaves, or 25 to 30 minutes for 5 1/4-inch and 7-inch loaves. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool.
NOTES: This recipe makes just under 4 pounds of dough, which is enough to make 2 (7-inch) round loaves or, if you prefer, a variety of sizes. For example, the dough can be divided to make 1 round (7-inch) loaf, 1 (5 1/4-inch) round loaf, and 6 (2 3/4-inch) round loaves; or 3 (5 1/4-inch) round loaves. Round paper panettone molds can be purchased at Sur la Table, surlatable.com
, (800) 243-0852. Candied orange peel is available at specialty food stores or by mail order at King Arthur Flour, kingarthurflour.com
, (800) 827-6836.
Recipe by Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine Bakery, San Francisco.
Photo by Chad Robertson