Chicken And Sausage Cacciatore

028Don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of Old Man Winter.  I’m tired of shoveling, snow blowing,  lacing up boots, wearing boots,  trying to exercise in temperatures that are way to cold and always wearing more than one layer of clothing.  I could go on and on and on, but what’s the point! Old Man Winter still has a tight grip on my vitamin D deprived body and it looks like he ain’t gonna let go for another 6 weeks.  So…..in times of adversity….there’s only one thing to do……..LET’S EAT!

I guess the best thing about Winter is comfort food and there’s no better comfort food for this City Boy than chicken & homemade sausage cacciatore.  Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. Traditionally, this was a “rustic” meal which included braised chicken or rabbit and the flavors of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and wine.  Growing up, chicken cacciatore was always  one of my favorite meals to eat.  The aroma of homemade wine cooking in the sauce and the addition of rich egg noodles always made this dish unique.

I continued the “cacciatore” tradition when I began cooking and never deviated from the family recipe until I started making sausage a few years back.  Now…. no cacciatore in my house is complete without the addition of homemade sausage. If you’d like to learn how to make Italian sausage, CLICK HERE.

I hope that you will try this recipe.  I know it will be a hit.

Ingredients

6 pcs. of chicken(thighs or breast preferred with  skin removed

6 links of homemade sausage

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 large red bell pepper chopped

1 onion chopped

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 carrots cut into large pieces

1/2 cup red wine

2 24oz jars of pasatta (strained tomatoes)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

Step 1

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the chicken until it begins to brown (about 5 min. per side).  Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside. 001 Repeat this process for the sausage and set it aside as well.002

Step 2

Add the bell pepper, onion, carrots and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender (about 5 minutes). Add basil, oregano, salt, pepper and red wine.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.003

Step 3

Add the pasatta to the pot and bring this to a simmer.  Once this is done, add the chicken and sausage to the pot and continue to gently simmer for at least 2 hours.  Slow and steady makes great sauce!004

Step 4

With about 20 minutes remaining until meal time, add the mushrooms.  Too early and they will all break down in the sauce.005

Step 5

As far as I’m concerned, broad egg noodles are a must with cacciatore.  Fresh is best, but packaged work fine as well.  Once done, lay the noodles on a large platter and add chicken and sausage.  Follow up with a generous coating of sauce and …..serve.    Bon appetit!009

Why I’m Glad I’m Not A Male Honey Bee

077 - CopyAs Valentine’s Day approaches and we focus on “love”, I am so happy I am not a male bee!  Mother Nature must have been doin’ some serious man hating on the day that she decided to create the male honey bee.  Some guy must have forgotten to put the toilet seat back down that day or left some clothes on the floor for the very last time cause the poor old male honey bee sure got a bum rap for the way his life was about to evolve.

Male honey bees are called Drones. I know that Mother Nature had nothing to do with naming them, but you’d think that the guy who made up the name could have given this a bit more thought.  To me, the word Drone conjures up images of “dim-witted” or “half-brained” .  How’s a guy suppose to get a good  start in life with that mill stone already wrapped around his neck?  It’s like naming your kid “Dork”.  Yah…that’s gonna bode well  in the school playground for Junior!

Second, Mother Nature has decided that the drone should take more time to develop than the “girl” bees in the colony.  Because of this, the Drone has become the best host for the Varroa mite who gets another 3 days to continue “sucking” on his blood.  Many a beekeeper has learned to collect these drone combs and put them in the freezer as a strategy  to help diminish Varroa mite populations in the hive.  So the poor male bee doesn’t even get to “become” a bee before he is thrown into the deep freeze!

If he is fortunate to escape the deep freeze, than the Drone hits “pay dirt” for a while and hangs out with his fellow drones not too far from the hive waiting…..and waiting………..for a virgin Queen to fly by.  It must be a good time for the drones.  Hanging out with your buddies, drinking a few honey cream ales,talkin’ about sports and telling tales about that large mouth bass that “got away”.But when they see The Queen….well…… it’s every “man” for himself as they desperately try to run her down and mate with her in mid-flight.  Now…that’s a feat that is way under appreciated.  But wait, the Queen won’t just mate with 1 drone, she’ll do this with up to around 15 of them all in the same flight!  Hey fellas, image if it was the drone who got the chance to mate with 15 virgin Queens all in a single flight.  Those poor guys would get an even more despicable rap with a whole bunch of off-colored language that linked up with “dirty dogs”, and “good for nothing nymphomaniacs”.  Yah…the drones are the decrepit ones!

But, getting back to the so-called  “lucky” drones…….if Mr. Drone successfully mates with The Queen, than his “man hood” is RIPPED RIGHT OFF as he completes his task and then Mr. Drone falls perilously to his demise.  HOLY FREAKIN’ #$*#!!!!!!!!!!!  Now, that’s no way to die…free-falling  to your demise from high up in the sky without your “winkie” as your best buddies laugh and point to the gaping void in your mid section!

And finally, if you managed to escape the “deep-freeze” and weren’t “lucky” enough to mate with The Queen, than you are banished from the hive in the autumn where you are left to freeze or starve to death!  Unfortunately for the Drone, he is seen as a freeloader in the hive at this time off the year and will only diminish the honey reserves that will get the colony through Winter.        Man oh Man……..Mother Nature is sure awful “tough” on the poor old drone.

So…there you have it.  If you don’t get frozen by your beekeeper, have your mid-section ripped off and fall perilously to your demise, than you will be evicted from your home in the Fall where you will either freeze or starve to death.  On this Valentines Day, I’ll give thanks that I am not a Drone.

“What’s that Beloved Wife…….the toilet seat?????????  No it was Dutiful Son who left it up again!”………  Hey…….Between you and me….he’s younger, stronger……..and has lots of time…………… to learn how to take one for the team!   BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZZZ.

Why You May Want To Consider Getting Sex-Link Chicks This Spring!

006If you’re thinking about expanding your flock or getting into backyard chickens for the first time,  you will need to decide on what breed of chicken you desire.  The easiest way to answer this question is to ask yourself why you want the chickens. Do you want them because you are interested in becoming more self-sufficient?  Is a colorful flock or different colored eggs important to you?  Is there a desire to help preserve a declining heritage breed, or……….is it simply the opportunity to get fresh daily eggs?  For me, ……..it’s ALL ABOUT THE EGG and there’s no better egg producing hen than a sex-link chicken.

Now….before all you heritage breed enthusiasts send me out to the firing squad, let me say that I do applaud your desire to preserve some of these declining breeds.  I think that’s great!  Everyone should be passionate about something. It’s just that the Heritage breed “passion”  is  not for me.  I simply want enough eggs on a daily basis for my family to eat and I find that my 3 sex-link chickens meet my expectations.  We all know that the Heritage breeds lay less and generally take a break or slow down in the winter, but  sex-links consistently lay way more eggs and continue throughout the entire year.  For me,  it’s kinda like the 1972 Oldsmobile that my father drove with its 455  V8 engine which sucked gas like there was no tomorrow.  Fast track 40 years later and we’ve developed more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.  Sure, it’s nice to see those old cars on the road from time to time, but I’m glad that the auto industry has made more fuel-efficient cars for us to drive today.

Now, sex-links aren’t a breed.  In fact, they are a hybrid that has been crossed between 2 layer breeds.  They may  be called ISA Browns, Red Sex-Links, Shaver Browns, Cinnamon Queens, Golden Comets or Red Stars depending on the specific breeds that were used in crossing. They are all referred to as sex-links because each gender hatches out in a different color, making it very easy to determine the “boys” from the “girls”.   This is a great attribute which rules out the possibility of getting a bunch of soon to be roosters when buying some straight-run chicks from the local hatchery. But best of all, these hens generally become EGG LAYING MACHINES at around 18-22 weeks of age!  I’m not talking about 250 eggs per year like many heritage breed hens.  My 3 hens each consistently laid one egg almost every single day in their first year of production.  I know for a fact that I collected over 350 eggs that year from each of my hens.  It didn’t matter if it was 80 degrees in August or frigid temps in January or February……3 eggs almost every day! (I do supply additional light in the Winter.)  And I’m not taking about large eggs…these eggs are ginormous!  I’ve weighed some of these eggs and a few have come in at a quarter pound! 003 The only down side is that the eggs are soooooooo darn big that they can’t properly fit into the egg carton! Well……at least for 2 of my hens.  If you’ve “followed” me before, you may remember that I do complain about the Ping-Pong size egg that Swifer lays most days.

Anyways, I’ve had these chickens for almost 2 years now and they still continue to provide us with at least 18 eggs/wk.  They’ve all gone through a molt and it never really interrupted egg production for 2 of my hens.  There were some “bumps” in the road during the molt like a few “softies”, but no major drop in egg production that had us running out to the grocery store to buy those “other ones”.  As for temperament, these hens are pretty laid back as well.  Dominance has never really been an issue.  I can’t say I ‘ve ever seen any displays of aggression except when I introduced Rosie to the flock and Swifer gave her a good beatin’ for a few weeks.  But overall, they generally get along well….even when they’re subjected to  tight quarters like a 3 hour trip to the cottage.027   There also doesn’t seem to be much that throws them off their egg laying schedule.  Usually the first snow fall of the season might set one of them back for a day, but other “disruptions” like a trip to the cottage doesn’t seem to throw them off their game. 010 As for noise, they’re generally pretty quite.  The egg song has been an issue occasionally, and they do squawk a bit in the warmer months when they want out of the run, but by no means would I say that the level was invasive to a neighbor.  With regards to becoming broody, this has also never been an issue.

I can’t say enough good things about these ISA Brown Hens that I’ve had for the last 2 years.  Did I just get lucky?  Maybe, but I don’t think so because I have encouraged others to give these chickens a try and they always come back saying what great layers their new hens have become.

So………if you’re thinking about adding to the flock this Spring or just jumping in to backyard chickens for the first time, than I urge you to consider giving these chickens a try. What they may lack  in appearance (Don’t worry girls, I think you’re all gorgeous!) they sure make up for in temperament and egg production.046

If you’d like to read more on this topic, CLICK HERE for my page on Hybrid vs Heritage Breed Chickens.

How To Make A Beehive:Building Honey Bee Boxes

014 - CopyIt’s been pretty darn cold up here in Southern Ontario this week and I can’t stop thinking about honeybees.  Maybe it’s because the Winter allows for time to finally get around to some other interests that seem to get crowded out during the warmer months.  Anyways, this winter I am bound and determined to make 2 Langstroth honey bee hives from scratch.  The drive to do so comes from 2 forces.  First, I’ve been working with wood for the better part of 25 years and secondly, I definitely became smitten with “the bees” last year when I got my first introduction to beekeeping up near our cottage.  So….over the next few months, I’m going to post  different segments on how to build your own hive.  I don’t mean assembling purchased parts.  I mean building the real deal.  By the end of it all, I’ll have built 2 complete hives.  I hope that I’ll inspire you to do the same!

Making your own honey bee hive can be rewarding on a number of fronts.  First, there is a cost savings (around 30 %) which will really add up if you want more than 1 hive.  Second, there is the personal satisfaction in knowing that you built your own beehive.  But, if you acquaint time with money and/or have little or no basic cabinetry skills, than purchasing a beehive may be the right choice for you.

My version of the Langstroth hive differs from the traditional hive body in that I do not use a box joint or notched hive handles.  Instead, I use a rabbet joint and screws to assemble the boxes and “homemade” handles which are screwed onto each box.  It’s a whole lot easier, a whole lot safer to make and requires a lot less experience for the “home-hobby” guy or gal.

So…..lets get started.  But first, lets talk about safety.  Make sure that you read and understand how to SAFELY operate your power equipment.  In  some of the pictures below, the safety guard has been removed so that you can get a better understanding of the photo.  NEVER operate your equipment without a guard in place!

The only difference between the honey bee boxes is depth.  For the purpose of this post, I will be making a box which is 6 -5/8″ deep.  If you want to make a shallow box, it will be 5-11/16″ deep and a deep box will be 9-5/8″ deep.  All parts are 3/4″ thick.

Start by ripping the boards to width.  This is best done at the table saw. Note* If you have a jointer, it would be best to make a few passes on the board edge before ripping.012

Now cross-cut your pieces to length.  This can either be done on a table saw with a miter gauge or  a miter saw that is larger than the 10″ standard saw.  Either way, make sure to use a “stopper” so that every piece is exactly the same.  For the fronts and backs, cut them at 15-1/2″.  For the sides, cut them at 19-7/8″.  Note* When using the table saw, never butt the lumber up to the rip fence when cross-cutting. Make sure to have an axillary fence or scrap of wood clamped to the fence for this operation.  This will definitely prevent the wood from binding between the blade and the fence preventing dangerous kick-back. 016

Now, cut the rabbet joint in the sides.  The rabbet will be 3/8″ deep and 3/4″ wide.  This can be done with a router and rabbet bit or 2 passes on the table saw.  For the purpose of this post, I am doing the rabbet on the table saw.  First, start by cutting the rabbet to its correct depth with the workpiece facedown on the table saw. Once again, use an auxiliary fence or a scrap of wood clamped to the fence in order to prevent kickback. 019 Next,  stand the piece on edge to cut the rabbet to width.  Make sure to use a feather board to help keep your piece straight and cover the exposed blade.026

In the picture below, the feather board was only removed for the benefit of the picture.

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Now, cut the 5/8″ x 3/8″ rabbet for the tops of the fronts and backs (these will hold the  honey bee frames). This is done the same way as the previous rabbet.028

Now, using a homemade marking jig that was ripped to 3/8″ thick, mark the screw locations on both sides.  By using this “jig”, you will only have to measure out one time for all of your sides.  Simply place the jig on the edge of your board and mark the screw locations with your pencil.031

Using another template, mark out the two screw locations for each side of each box.  You will notice that there are 4 holes in this template.  That’s because it can be used to mark the handle screw locations for the front/back & the sides.   Just make sure to consistently mark your pieces from the same side.033

Now, pre-drill your sides and handle locations using a hand-held drill or drill press equipped with a countersink bit.  Note* It’s essential to pre-drill so that you don’t split the ends of the board.037

Now, make the handles for the boxes.  I like to use 2×6 for this part.  First, rip the 2×6 into 1-1/2″ width strips.  Then tilt the blade to 8 degrees and rip the strips again. (The 8 degree angle will allow for rain run off from the handles.) 039 Next, lower the blade to a 3/4″ height and set the rip fence to 3/4″.  Run the strips through the table saw making sure that the angled surface is positioned on the left side of the strip. 040 Next, turn the strip so that the angled surface is “facing up” and rip again.  By the end of the “rip”, the waste from the handle will fall away from the strip.  042Next, set up a stop block on the miter saw or table saw and cross-cut the strips to 6-1/4″ lengths.  Make sure that the 8 degree beveled face is not resting on the miter gauge (for the table saw) or the fence (for the miter saw).044

Glue and screw the handles, using 1-1/4″ deck screws,  to the outside of each box part.  I made a jig out of some scrap plywood which allows me to position the handle on to the exact spot of the box side.  I just reverse the jig for a hive body because it is wider.048

046

Now, assemble each box using 1-1/2″ deck screws and exterior glue.049

Finally, carefully rip a few strips of that “waste” from the handles to 3/8″ x 3/8″.  Fill the 3/8″ spaces at the ends of the rabbets on the inside of the front and back pieces.  I used a Japanese flush cutting hand saw for trimming the “filler” piece.050

And…Volah!  You’re on your way to making your own  beehive(s).  To see how I built my hive stands CLICK HERE.  To see how I built my ventilated gabled roof, CLICK HERE.  To see how I built my ventilated bottom board CLICK HERE.053

How To Make Salami

018

Late Saturday afternoons in winter are a great time to put up your feet by the woodstove….have a glass of wine with a few homemade olives, a slice of cheese or two, and SOME HOMEMADE CITY BOY SALAMI.  I can’t think of a better past time on the weekend.  Well…I could, but I know that Beloved Wife would not like me gettin’ too personal on the blog.  Anyways…..If you’ve ever thought about making salami and were too intimidated by the process, than I hope you’ll continue to read on and see that it’s not that difficult to make great tasting salami.  If you’ve never thought about making salami before this post, than I hope I’ve “planted a seed” and you’ll take the plunge into the world of charcuterie.

So……….are you ready to learn how to make GREAT TASTING HOMEMADE SALAMI??????……………….IF YOU”RE READY………CLICK HERE!040

Why That Darn Hen Won’t Use The Nest Box!

Portable chicken ark.

Portable chicken ark.

A couple of years back, my 3 hens moved from their portable Chicken Ark to some swanky digs here at City Boy Hens. It was kinda’ like the Jefferson’s, but this time it was my three hens who were “movin’ on up!”  The Portable Ark worked well, as it provided my hens with some space to “free range” and an upper level to roost and lay eggs,  but it was a pain in the butt to move around the yard each day.

So with hammer, nails, screws and wood,  I built them a home that was fit for Queens.  I meticulously constructed their coop/run; adding insulation, electricity and 2 nest boxes.  I know that some of you may think that the 2 nest boxes was overkill for three hens, but the last thing I wanted to do was make one of my girls have to wait in line in order to deposit her daily offering.  Besides, …….I know what it’s like at the cottage with only 1 bathroom.  Inventing a new dance move in front of a locked bathroom door is no way to start the day while a relaxed occupant casually thumbs through a 3-year-old  tattered magazine.

092Anyways…..I built 2 nest boxes for the hens and proceeded to line those boxes and the bottom of the coop with fluffy aromatic wood shavings.  The shavings in the nest box would make a great landing pad for the eggs and the shavings on the coop floor would make poop pickin’ up a whole lot easier.

As it turns out, Swifer, (YES IT IS THAT DAMN HEN AGAIN)  has chosen  to not make any distinction between the wood shavings in the nest box and those on the coop floor.  In fact, I think she feels the coop floor IS HER NEST BOX because she deposits her egg on the coop floor EVERY morning.  But worst of all, she had taught Rosie that this practice is acceptable.

I am proud to say that I have managed to “re-train” Rosie to use the nest box by  always keeping a plastic egg in one of the boxes, but Swifer ain’t gettin’ fooled by that trick.  In fact, she goes into the nest box and pecks that plastic egg until she has turfed it out on to the floor of the coop!

“OK Swifer…..it’s the beginning of a New Year and with it comes the opportunity to bid the past goodbye and  to start anew.  How ’bout you start laying that “ping-pong poor excuses you call an egg” up in the nest box and I’ll stop decorating the coop walls with pictures of great tasting chicken noodle soup recipes!  Deal?????????????????????”

I do have my doubts……..It’s hard to teach an old chicken new tricks!

Well…..as Meatloaf sang “Two out of 3 ain’t bad!”009

Happy New Year To All!

My 2013 Funny Chicken Stories

After a Snow Fall

As 2013  draws to a close, the media will  be releasing their top 10 year in review headlines.  For the most part, these stories are generally filled with tragedy, whether it be human or environmental.  Well….., here at  City Boy Hens, I ‘d rather  close the year off with a few laughs rather than dwelling on the more difficult times in 2013.

So…I’ve gone back into my archives and pulled out a few “chestnuts”  from earlier this year.  I hope they will make you smile.  Better still, I hope they will make you laugh.  Happy New Year to all!  I hope that 2014 will be kind to each of you and that the next 12 months will be filled with lots of great experiences and tons of fun!

City Boy Trapper:

003

Don’t You Take Your Chickens On Vacation?

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Bigger Is NOT Always Better!

Rosie's first day at City Boy Hens

The Dreaded Egg Song!

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Driving Miss Swifer: That Damn Hen Is Causin’ Trouble AGAIN!

Are We Almost There?

Merry Christmas

019Well…..it’s definitely turned into a Merry Christmas at City Boy Hens.  We had our electricity restored late last night after almost 72 hours without power. I am soooooo grateful for the wood stove.  It helped keep Old Man Winter at bay as the outdoor temperatures stayed well below freezing (more on that in a future post).

Anyways…..the power outage prevented me from sending out a Seasonal greeting to all of you until now.  So….here goes….I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a 2014 that is filled with tons of fun!  Thanks for “following” my blog.  I’ve enjoyed the time that I have spent on it in the last 11 months.

So…with that said……the “long Winter’s nap” is looking pretty good right about now!  I hope you enjoy your Christmas Day!038 - Copy

From The Farm Blog Hop

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I am quite aware that today is Friday and I already posted yesterday about making Panettone. Although I DO enjoy kickin’ back a few spiked egg noggs at this time of year, I can assure you that I have not partaken of this festive elixir on this frigid Friday morning. Soooooooooooo……why a second post within 24 hours?
Well, I am pleased to announce that the folks From the Farm Blog Hop have picked me to be a guest host for this week’s hop. From what I’ve heard, I’m not only the first guy to be given this honor, but also the first Canadian. I’ll take that as a big chicken feather in this City Boy’s toque, eh!
I hope you’ll take a look at the hop, add a post or two, or just  cruise around to see some of the great things that some fellow bloggers are makin’ or doin’.

Keep scrolling to join this week’s party!
Congratulations! Please feel free to grab our button and display it proudly on your blog!
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From The Farm Blog Hop

Now, on to this week’s party:
1. Link up to three of your best gardening or homesteading tips, farm-themed posts, recipes, homemaking and simple/frugal living tips, decorating ideas, DIY projects, craft ideas, thrifty makeovers or repurposed items, healthy, sustainable living tips and giveaways.
2. Link back to my blog, or put the link party button anywhere on your blog or post to share the love.
3. Make sure to check out some of the other links before leaving.

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We can’t wait to see what you share with us!

Note: Linking up to this party will automatically sign you up for an invite to next week’s party via email. To unsubscribe, please reply to any email you receive and you will be removed. Linking up also allows us permission to publish one of your photos on our blogs, Facebook, and/or Pinterest pages.

How To Make Panettone

036 - CopyMaking Panettone  has been on my “bucket list” for the last few years.  It is a rich Italian bread that is made with eggs, candied citrus peel, and butter and typically eaten at Christmas.  Dutiful-son always seems to devour the store-bought panettone, so this year I thought I’d’ make this delicious Italian Christmas bread for him.

Now before you scroll down and “exit” because this bread looks too difficult…..just hear me out.  Listen……..you can make this bread.  Don’t get intimidated because the dough has to rise a few times.  As well, don’t call it quits because the bread  seems like an  “all day affair”.  It really isn’t.  It’s just that the dough needs to rise a few times and that takes a few hours each time.  You don’t have to do anything during these “rise” times so go put your feet up and have a cup of tea or coffee and read a book.  Better still, go for a walk,  call a friend or whatever.  The point that I’m trying to make is that you don’t need to be intimidated by these “specialty breads” because they need “rise time”.  They just require “pockets” of attention throughout your day.  They do not require your day!  So……………………lets get started!

Ingredients:

Sponge:

1/4 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 -1/4  teaspoon active dry yeast ( 1 package)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Dough:

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

4 large egg yolks, room temperature

1/2 cup warm milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Fruit:

2/3 cup raisins

2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur

1/4 cup candied lemon peel

1/4 cup candied orange peel

zest of 1 orange

zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

Sponge:

If you’re not familiar with making a sponge….DON’T PANIC.  It’s really EASY!   All you’re going to do is combine the warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast in a small bowl.  Stir it up and leave it for around 10 minutes in order to let the yeast dissolve.  Next, stir in the flour.  It will end up feeling pretty sticky and looking like the picture below.004

Now, cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size (around 2 hours).  I use my oven for the warm place.  I find turning it on for a minute or two and continuing to keep the oven light on creates enough warmth for the rise.  Okay….now you have 2 hours to wait.  Go get that cup of tea/coffee and take a rest with a good book.  See ya’ in a few hours!

After 2 hours the sponge should look like this:005

Dough:

Mix together sugar and butter in a large bowl.  Now add your eggs and egg yolks.  Beat the dough until it is thoroughly mixed.  Add sponge, warm milk, and vanilla.  Stir until well mixed.  Add the flour (1 cup at a time) until well mixed and a soft dough is formed.

Now begin to knead your dough on a lightly floured surface or in your stand mixer.  If you are kneading by hand, it should be around 8 minutes.  Make sure to add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky.  If you are using a stand mixer, make sure it is at the “kneading setting” and you are using a dough hook.  6 minutes  on this setting worked well for me.  Either way, you want to continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a greased bowl.  I used a bit of melted butter and used my hands to coat the bowl.  Flip the dough in the bowl in order to ensure that the other side also gets greased.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place until it has doubled in size (around 2 hours).  *  Now it’s time for you to have another rest, warm beverage, good book, leisurely walk or…………..”Hey Beloved Wife……. Are the kids out? Do you still have that Santa’s helper costume that I got you last year???????”014

2 hours later, the dough should have doubled in size and look like the picture below.019

Fruit:

While the dough is rising, take a few minutes to get your raisins plumped up in the Amaretto.  I combined the raisins and the Amaretto in a small covered sauce pan on low heat for a few minutes and then set it aside.  Once cooled, combine the raisins, citrus peel and zest.017

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface and “punch” it down.  You want to get the air out of the dough.  Next, pat the dough out and add the fruit to the middle.  Begin gently kneading until the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough ( a few minutes).  Form the dough into a ball and place it into a Panettone mold or greased pan. 021 Cover once again and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size (around 2 hours).  After 2 hours, it should look like the following picture.023

Bake:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the top of the Panettone with melted butter.  If you are using a Panettone mold, make sure to place it on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.  Place the Panettone in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake for 40 more minutes.  If the top begins to brown too quickly during the bake,  then place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the bread for the duration of the bake.  At 50 minutes, remove the Panettone from the oven and “test” that it is done by inserting a long wooden skewer (the kind you’ll use for shish kabobs) into the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean, you are done.  If not, put it back in the oven for another few more minutes and “test” again.

Place Panettone on a wire cooling rack. If you are using a pan, let it rest on the rack for 10 minutes before removing the Panettone.033

I really hope you give this bread a try.  Don’t be intimidated by the time that it takes.  Remember, most of that time, the bread will be rising and you could be reading, resting, enjoying a warm beverage, taking a walk or……..  “What’s that Beloved Wife……..No I’m not puttin’ on the Bad Santa costume AGAIN!”