In August of this year, we found out that our holiday panettone was being considered for the Martha Stewart Living Gift Guide (most of you now know that we were actually selected and included in the December issue!). Though we were beyond thrilled, we were a little nervous, as we knew that we needed to be prepared to meet the potential demand. We have only produced panettone one season before, so we instantly began our practice runs to work out the timing and other processes.
One of the things that I believe makes our panettone so special, and extra delicious, is our housemade candied orange peel. Each panettone has roughly 2 cups of candied orange peel (not to mention almost the same amount of raisins and a whole vanilla bean). Each batch of panettone yields about 5 kilos (or 12 pounds) of candied oranges, so I’m sure you can understand that it takes quite a bit of oranges to get us through the holiday season. As of today, we’re up to 6 cases of oranges.
Now if you’re wondering how candied orange peel is made, let me share with you. But be forewarned, it’s quite intensive. First, you have to juice the oranges.
Then, the rinds are blanched starting with cold water, 2-3 times depending on how bitter it is. The rinds are then cooked on the stovetop for 30-60 minutes until they are tender. The rinds are then scooped out. What remains is mostly orange segments and the pith. We cut the rinds into strips and cook them in a simple syrup for up to an hour, until they are translucent. After soaking for an additional 30 minutes in the syrup, we put them on a rack to dry. The next day they can be diced to use in the panettone and in other desserts and cookies. This year, you’ll be able to to experience our candied orange peel in our Florentine Cookies and stöllen.
That’s not all for the panettone. If you think the process for making candied orange peel is intensive, just wait until I post on how we actually make the bread. The panettone (including the candied orange peel) is a labor of love, and I think it’s all so worth it.