Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homemade Panettone - Italian Christmas Bread (Part 1)

(repost) Panettone - A recipe

 Panettone is a bread that you see on the shelves at Christmas time. It is quite delicious, high rising and flavorful -- packed with golden raisins, candied orange and a thick crust.
Perhaps you recall seeing dome shaped boxes like these at grocery stores, pharmacies and department stores?  Even these loaves that are mass produced are quite tasty - although fresh, is of course, best.
I bought 2 mini size loaves this year.  Each one was the size of a muffin!  They were adorable and delicious.  And, I must admit, I found the miniature packaging to be so cute!
After eating my second one, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at baking my own panettone.
The first thing I did was research.  I looked at a bunch of recipes and read to see how they varied.  After much work, I settled on Carol Field's recipe from her book The Italian Baker.  She is an excellent author and researcher.  Her recipes are authentic, humble and delicious. (I did some minor modifications to her recipe -- I always alter recipes.) I found her instruction on panettone to be thoughtful, thorough and easy to follow.  The end result -- Fantastic texture, extraordinary taste and the scent of the bread baking was worthy of it's own candle fragrance!
The recipe is fairly easy, as bread recipes go.  There is measuring, mixing and kneading and lots and lots of rising. I made the bread over the course of 3 days.
First, I made a starter.  This is just a simple mixture of yeast, water and flour.  I made this and then set it in the refrigerator overnight.  (I did this, strictly for my convenience, not because I think it enhanced the flavor.) I then followed the recipe, by making more dough and mixing the starter into the new yeast mixture.  Then, I let this rise overnight in the fridge as well. (Again, for convenience, as I couldn't get to it all in one day.) I let the dough come to room temperature and rise for a couple of hours more.
 I split the dough in half and folded in the raisins and citron mixture.  Since I couldn't find candied citron, I used a candied fruitcake mixture that contained candied orange, pineapple and cherries. I  removed the obnoxious green and red candied cherries and just used the candied citrus.
 I placed the completed dough into the moulds.  Interestingly, I was lucky that my father had some giant empty cans that worked perfectly.  (These cans held artichokes and eggplant at one time. They were approximately 2 lb coffee can sizes. )  I greased them with melted butter and lined them with parchment paper, which I greased as well.  I slashed X's in the top. Then I let these rise in the pans.
I slashed X's in the top. 
Then I covered them and let these rise in the pans.
 Once doubled in size, I re-slashed them and brushed them with melted butter.
 I baked them in the oven, follow Carol Field's suggestion about using a reverse heat pyramid.  I did change her timing and temperature a bit and found a  400 degree oven, for 10 min, 375 degree for 10 min and then 350 for 10 minutes, 325 for 30 minutes to be effective for the size pans I used.
 Look at the rise and the crust on these!  They smelled so good. I could hardly wait for them to cool!
 Carol Field recommends letting them cool in the pan on a rack for 30 min, then removing them an placing them on their side on "pillows" so that they don't drop.  I removed them from the pan after 15 min, as I felt they were sturdy and cool.
I placed them on their side and let cool.  Well, one I let cool completely. The other one, I wrapped in kraft paper and delivered while still warm to my father.
I love how the rustic bread looks wrapped in paper and twine!

Oh - I sliced the bread and ate a piece.  Then, my daughters followed suit and it was unanimous!  Delicious.  I think I will be making another batch!
I posted the recipe I used -- with some alterations, here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gift Toppers... free download

Here's a set of six gift toppers that you can download and use as gift tags or in place of gift bows on presents.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December Journal 2014

In December I keep an art journal that documents many Christmas and Advent activities. Each year I do a different rendition of a journal, depending on my focus that year. Here are some previous December Journal posts 2011 December Journal    2010 December Art Journal     2012 Advent List

This year, I made a journal from file folders, Gelli Prints, and papers. I sewed the journal together this year, instead of using binding rings or a pre-made album or book.
 This was a casual album. The pages are different sizes and widths.
 I made an effort to layer them so that the largest pages were on the outer signatures.
I clipped them before sewing them together and made a little guide to punch the holes for the binding.
I bonded the journal by attaching the 3 signatures together.
 Here are some inside pages from the bound journal. Here you can see the file folders.
 Here's a look inside one of the signatures where you can see the different papers.
 I love the contrast between the bright red Gelli print and the neutral pages.
 There's plenty of room for writing, sketching, or attaching photos or cards.
There's even a folded page with a pocket to tuck in tickets, tags, or notes.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


We are just a couple of weeks away from Christmas and I am grateful for so many wonderful things.
I visited with my daughter on Tuesday for a quick shopping trip and was reminded what a great Santa Claus she is to her friends and family. She is thoughtful, generous, and creative with her gift choices.
Both of my girls are heading into finals for the fall semester and are working hard. They're stressed out, but I am grateful that they have taken their education seriously.
Jon and I put up the tree and strung the lights. We're waiting for the girls to finish the ornaments. It was the first time we've done this together.
Jon and I spent a couple of hours on the tennis court going over drills and rallying. It was so much fun. He's helping me to work on my new backhand and is patient with my repeated attempts to get it right.
The Christmas lights are up in places and I am a sucker for them. I love viewing them at night and wish it was more prevalent in our area.
My sister brought home her second child from the hospital at just a week old. I wish I was there with her, but hope she knows that I send her my love.
I met a good friend for a fun dinner where we sat and chatted for hours. It was her birthday and I got to thinking about how each time we go out to dinner, we celebrate as if it was her birthday!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gelli Printed Tags 7, 8, & 9

These last three tags are so simple, I thought I'd combine them into a single post.
Tag # 7 uses both a Gelli Printed tag for a background, but also a Gelli printed die cut for the focus of the tag.
I took basic supplies.... marker, tag, die cut, stamped saying, and ribbon and combined them to make a quick tag.
 Tag #8 is equally simple with Gelli printed die cuts, stickers and ribbon.
I just combined them in a way that I liked.
Tag # 9 is a simple way to take scraps of Gelli Prints and cut them into strips that fill a simple silhouette shape. In this case, I made Christmas trees with green printed pages.

Other Gelli Printing for Christmas
Advent Calendar for Tea Drinkers

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gelli Printed Tag 6

This tag can be an ornament too. It's made from 7 circles that I folded and glued to another circle as a base. I think using the Gelli printed paper is so fun because the colors and textures make the ornament unique. And it looks like a flower, so next time I'll use red printed paper and get a poinsettia!
Start by punching 7 circles from Gelli printed paper or card stock. You might want to punch more than 7, so you can choose which patterns you like best.
Then fold each of the seven circles in a simple fashion You want there to be some overlap on the folds, so you're not quite folding it in thirds.
I folded 6 circles and then pushed them together to see if I had to "fudge" the last one to make it fit well. I wound up having to make more folds, so one of the circles is a bit thinner than the others... If you found that you folded too much, you may need more than 7, if you folded wide, you might only need 6 circles. I then outlined them with a gold paint pen and glued them to a plain round so that they would be stable.
When that dried, I used some gold dimensional paint to create a center pearl.
Then I took some red dimensional paint and made more parts to the inner flower.
When that was dry, I punched a hole in the top of the ornament and threaded ribbon through it.

Other Gelli Printing for Christmas

Advent Calendar for Tea Drinkers

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gelli Printed Tag 5

 This tag is fun because is combines some unusual elements. Aside from the paper products, it uses a wooden and metal fence from a Christmas village.
 Supplies: White distress paint, Gelli printed tag, deer die cut, star die cut
 Pounce the white distress paint on the fence to give an appearance of snow. Let dry.
 Optionally, outline the tag and star with gold marker.
 Dab some white paint on the bottom third of the tag and pat dry to soften the edges of the tag. Adhere the fence to the tag with strong tape or glue and let dry. Then place the deer above the fence, as if he was jumping over it. Affix the star down as well.
Add ribbon to the top of the tag.
Other Gelli Printing for Christmas
Advent Calendar for Tea Drinkers