Panettone is one of mine and my kids’ favorite things to eat at Christmastime. When I was planning my posts for Valentine’s Day, I had a big bag of tart cherries from Costco that I wanted to use. I thought it would be really fun to make panettone with them.

Though it’s normally made in Italy at Christmastime, I couldn’t think of a better way to make it than with little bursts of bright red cherry flavor. To balance out the taste, I also added some candied lemon zest.

cherry panettone with candied lemon zest

4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 packages instant yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup warm milk
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups dried tart cherries, finely chopped
candied lemon zest, recipe follows

1. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, yeast, and sugar (if using regular yeast, dissolve first in the warm milk, then add with the wet ingredients). Add in milk, egg yolks, and salt. With the mixer on low, add in butter, a tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix on medium low until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Mix in cherries and lemon zest.

2. Place dough in a buttered bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place for 2-3 hours, or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place in cupcake papers, and then place in a muffin tin. Cover and rest until doubled in size.

3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on the tops. Brush the tops with softened butter. Allow to cool.

candied lemon zest

juice 1 lemon
zest of 5-6 lemons
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for coating
3 tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until syrup thickens. Remove zest from the syrup with a fork and drop in granulated sugar. Coat with granulated sugar. This will form a large mass of lemon zest. When cool, cut into small pieces.