I guess we all have memories of our childhood birthdays… I was born in February which is often the month of Carnevale in Italy, so I used to have dress up birthday parties. It was a lot of fun. There would be games, prizes, music and lots of laughter! If I think back about the menu though, there were just a few key recurring elements to all the parties I would attend. One of them would obviously be the birthday cake (there is no birthday without a cake, right?) and then there would be a big tray full of focaccia and another one full of Panini al latte filled either with Nutella or cured meats (prosciutto, mortadella, salame…). We seldom used to eat sliced/sandwich bread, but I grew up eating our local bakery’s Panini al latte with Nutella as an afternoon snack. When I started organising Victoria’s birthday party I could not get these items out of my mind. I had already found the recipe for perfect focaccia (phew) and so I started looking for Panini al latte. I found a recipe that sounded (and looked) right to me and tried it immediately. And let me tell you… it was just perfect. I almost couldn’t believe how good these Panini were! My husband was so impressed he asked me to bake a double batch for the birthday! The great thing about this bread is that it is very fluffy and light and it keeps great if stored in an airtight container on the counter. You can keep it like that for 2 or 3 days and it will still be soft and fresh. You can also freeze it and when you defrost it, it will be just like day 1. You should try and eat one of these right after taking them out of the oven. They are so soft inside… it is amazing. They remind me a bit of French brioche, but with virtually no fat… isn’t that great? Try them and let me know!
Recipe adapted from Giallo Zafferano
Ingredients: (makes 30 small panini)
500 gms flour
300 ml milk
50 gms butter, melted
60 gms sugar
7 gms (1 sachet) dry yeast
7 gms salt
Milk, to brush the top (lukewarm)
1 egg, to brush the top
Heat the milk in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Add half the the sugar and all the dry yeast to it, mix well and set aside to activate.
In the meantime, put the flour, salt, melted butter and the rest of the sugar in a mixer with a dough hook. When the yeast mixture is frothy pour it into the mixer.
Knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until you get a very smooth and elastic dough. NOTE: you may need a little more flour, add little by little up to 3 tbsp till you have a soft, smooth and pliable dough (but not sticky).
Make a ball with the kneaded dough, dust it with flour and set it aside in a large bowl covered with a dry cloth to rise for at least 2 hours or until it doubles in volume.
When the dough is ready, roll it into a thick sausage shape.
Cut pieces of 30 gms each from it and make them into balls by pulling the sides down and tucking them into the bottom of the ball. This will ensure that your panini will be smooth and not wrinkled/cracked.
Put the panini on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush them with some lukewarm milk.
Let them rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place.
After 30 minutes, brush them with some beaten egg.
Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C (200°C for a fan forced oven) for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
They are great with Nutella, jam, cheese, cured meats… or anything you fancy! I love them also plain!
Here is the full menu from Victoria’s birthday and the links to the recipes I have posted so far!
Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Chocolate and Raspberry Mini Cupcakes
Focaccia con le olive
Focaccia di Recco
Palline di Erice all’arancia
Panini al latte filled with ham & swiss cheese, salame & tasty cheese, brie & balck olive tapenade
Flowery Cake Pops
Lola Birthday Cake
Hello Kitty Cake Pops
Hello Kitty Yogurt Cake
I am going to post all the remaining recipes in the next few days, so stay tuned! 🙂
On a completely different note, I have submitted the Moussaka recipe for this month’s challenge over at FoodFrenzy. This month’s ingredient is cinnamon… and mine is the only savoury dish in the contest! If you liked the recipe, please take a minute and vote for it here. The voting is on between July 15th and 24th. Thank you very much! <3