1 cup raisins (dark, golden or a combination)
1 cup mixed peel or other chopped dried fruit such as apricots, figs or cranberries
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 envelope (2 1/2 tsp. or 8 g.) active dry yeast
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 cups flour
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Combine dried fruit and brandy. Cover and let fruit soak at least 8 hours or overnight.
In a medium bowl, stir together milk and yeast until yeast starts to dissolve. Stir in 3/4 cup flour until a sticky batter forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one by one, then beat in vanilla and salt. Beat for 5 minutes.
Add yeast mixture and 1 cup flour and beat until a smooth mixture forms. Attach a dough hook to your mixer and begin beating in 2 1/2 cups remaining flour. If you don't have a dough hook, mix in flour with your hands.
Knead dough for 10 minutes. Add soaked fruit and continue to knead for another 3 minutes. Dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a well buttered large bowl. Turn dough over so surface of dough is lightly greased. Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until dough is doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down dough and shape into a ball. Place in a well greased 8" to 10" deep round baking pan (I use a souffle dish). To make smaller loaves, divide dough into 6 portions and place in smaller souffle or cake tins. Brush with 1 Tbsp. melted butter. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. For small loaves, bake 25 to 30 minutes.
Brush with remaining melted butter and let cool 20 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
Makes 1 large panettone
Adapted from Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves From Your Own Hands by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik (William Morrow and Company, Inc.)