Panettone presents a challenging yet gratifying product for bakers each December because of the nature of producing this celebrated Italian sweet bread. You have a small window to get it right, and often by the time you find the proper groove, your season is over. Making great panettone is like bundling spring training and the World Series into a single month.
For Jeremy Gulley, who’s in charge of pastry at Red Hen Baking in Middlesex, Vermont, panettone is a labor love that begins every year just before Thanksgiving. When asked whether they’ve nearly perfected the process, he replies: “I would say it is ongoing. That’s the one thing I enjoy — always being on the edge of disaster.”
“It’s definitely incredibly challenging,” echoes Randy George, who founded Red Hen with his wife, Eliza, in 1999. “We’ve been making it about 15 years. It’s a fairly temperamental process in terms of dough development. You only get a few shots at it.”