Panettone

Christmas is around the corner and once again it’s time to make panettone, the Italian classic sweet bread loaf that you find on every Italian table during the holidays.

Fresh baked panettone are the perfect dessert for your holiday table!

Panettone requires a full day including three risings, so if you decide to make your own panettone be sure to allot the necessary time to bake this wonderful dessert. This is a classic panettone recipe that will yield a delicious, beautifully textured sweet bread that is almost identical to what you’d taste in Italy. There are some faster, shortcut recipes available but they just don’t come close to a genuine Italian panettone.

The history of panettone dates back to the Roman empire when a panettone-like leavened honey-sweetened cake was often prepared. Panettone as we currently know it originated in Milan in the 1900’s. It is dome-shaped, and a 1 kg panettone is about 6 inches tall. Nowadays you can find all sizes: mini-panettone, half kilogram panettone and sometimes extra-large panettone of  2 or 3 kg, and up to 10 kg.

Homemade mini panettone

The name panettone stems from the Italian word for bread: pane. A panetto is a small loaf, and if you add on the suffix “-one” it means large, hence panettone.

The classic Italian panettone is filled with candied citrus (lemon, citron and orange), and sultana raisins. Sultana raisins are made from dried, white seedless grapes and are a golden color; much plumper and sweeter than other raisins.
I’m not a fan of candied citrus fruit so I prefer to use dried cranberries soaked in rum instead. I incorporate lemon and orange flavoring into the panettone with lemon and orange zest. In this recipe you could use both, but I think you’ll find that using dried cranberries is a wonderful alternative.

Fresh baked panettone for Christmas with orange zest and candied orange

Make sure you have all the necessary equipment and ingredients on hand and assembled before you get started. You’ll need special panettone paper which is easy to buy online.

Panettone papers come in all sizes and are the perfect way to bake homemade panettone

You’ll also need some very long knitting needles or barbecue skewers to use when you cool your panettone hanging upside down to keep them from collapsing.

Panettone fresh out of the oven, speared with barbecue skewers and hung upside down over a pot to cool to avoid collapsing

I’ve broken the steps down to allow for easy preparation. First, you’ll find a complete ingredient list necessary for the entire preparation, and then an ingredient list for each step of preparation.

This recipe yields three 1/2 kg panettone. Let’s face it, if you’re spending a day to bake a panettone it’s well worth it to bake three at the same time. Panettone make wonderful holiday gifts so it’s great to have a few extra on hand. They also freeze well. Begin by assembling all of your ingredients, and then divide them up by what you will need for each step and dough rising.

A few comments on the ingredients and procedure.

For the all-purpose flour I strongly suggest that you use a high-quality flour such as King Arthur.
Italian flour is classified quite differently from American flour and a classic Italian panettone recipe would call for a strong, or gluten rich, flour such as Manitoba flour or W380 flour. If you have access to either of these flour types by all means use them in place of all-purpose flour.

I like panettone made with dried cranberries that have been soaked the night before in rum. If you want to stick to a classic recipe then you should use the Sultana raisins and candied citrus fruit. Feel free to add your own flavor twist to the panettone: try adding mini chocolate chips, crumbled chestnuts or pine nuts.

I strongly suggest you use a fresh compressed yeast rather than a packaged dry yeast for panettone. If you happen to have a good mother yeast on hand by all means use that in place of the compressed yeast.

Egg amounts are indicated in grams as this is the most precise way to measure ingredients for baking. Eggs can differ in size, and therefore weight, but an average large U.S. egg weighs roughly 50 g out of the shell, and about 1/3 of this is yolk. Next to the egg weight in the ingredients list I have indicated the approximate number of eggs required, assuming an egg weight of 50 g.

To facilitate the speed of dough risings you should rise the dough in an unheated oven with the oven light on, or a warm spot in your kitchen. The dough will rise best if the room is about 80°F.

Let’s start with the complete list of the ingredients you will need, along with any necessary special equipment. Please note that although ingredients are listed in metric, the print version of the recipe at the bottom of this page lets you choose either metric or U.S. customary measurements.

Total ingredients required for the panettone:
32 grams compressed yeast
260 grams eggs, about 5 eggs
170 grams egg yolks, from about 8 1/2 eggs.
1.2 kilogram all-purpose flour
254 grams granulated sugar
500 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
100 milliliters water
400 grams dried cranberries or sultana raisins (or a mixture of the two)
Optional: candied citrus fruit, finely cubed (roughly 80 grams cedro and 150 grams orange)
100 milliliters rum, for soaking the dried cranberries
Zest from one lemon and one orange
1 tablespoon vanilla
60 grams honey

Special equipment needed:
Six long knitting needles or barbecue skewers, long enough to skewer the base of the panettone, leaving 3 to 4 inches at each end.
Three 1/2 kg panettone papers; you can find these in gourmet specialty stores or online.
If you don’t have panettone papers, you can use large cans (used coffee or tomato cans) as a substitute. In this case grease the inside of the cans and then line with parchment paper. If you plan to use the panettone for gifts it’s well worth it to purchase panettone papers as they make a lovely presentation.
Although not strictly necessary a large, sturdy mixer with a dough hook is advisable. I swear by my KitchenAid.

Ingredients for the flavor mix:
60 grams honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Zest from one lemon and one orange

Ingredients for the first rising:
24 grams compressed yeast
100 milliliters warm water
80 grams eggs, about 1 1/2 eggs
250 grams all-purpose flour
24 grams sugar

Ingredients for the second rising:
250 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams eggs, about 2 eggs
20 grams egg yolks, from about 1 egg
80 grams sugar
150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature

Ingredients for the support dough, to be added with the third rising:
8 grams compressed yeast
30 grams eggs, about 2/3 egg
50 grams all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the third  rising:
500 grams all-purpose flour
350 grams butter, at room temperature
150 grams eggs, about 3 eggs
150 grams egg yolks, from about 7 1/2 eggs
150 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Procedure:

The night before prepare the flavor mixture:
Mix the honey, lemon and orange zest, and vanilla in a small glass bowl.
Cover with clingfilm and set aside.

The night before soak the Sultana raisins or cranberries:
Soak the raisins or cranberries in rum or water at room temperature for several hours.
Drain, pat dry and place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.
Cover with a dishtowel and allow to dry overnight.

Prepare the first rising:
Mix all the ingredients for the first rising together in the mixer using a paddle.
Place the dough in a glass or plastic bowl, cover with a damp dishtowel or clingfilm, and allow to rise until doubled in volume. This will take about 1 1/4 hours.

Prepare the second rising:
Place the dough from the first rising in to the mixer.
Add the flour and begin mixing using the dough hook.
When the flour is fully blended in, add the eggs.
Once the dough is fully mixed and begins to pull away from the sides of the mixer, slowly add the sugar and the butter, in thirds.
Mix until it’s fully incorporated and pulling away from the sides of the mixer.
Place the dough, covered, in a glass or plastic bowl and allow to rise, tripling in volume. This should take from 2 to 4 hours.

Prepare the support dough while the second dough is rising:
Whisk the flour, compressed yeast, and eggs together until smooth and creamy.
Set aside.

Prepare the third rising:
Place the dough from the second rising in the mixer and add the flour and support dough.
Add the eggs and flavor mixture and once this is fully incorporated into the dough, add the sugar, salt and butter in thirds mixing well after each addition.
The dough should separate from the sides of the mixer and be smooth and stretchy.
Add the cranberries or raisins and the candied fruit and continue mixing just until the fruit is well distributed within the dough.
Place the dough, covered, in a glass or plastic bowl and allow to rise until doubled in volume, roughly 2 hours.

Prepare the dough for placement in the panettone baking papers, the “pirlatura”:
Place the dough on a very lightly buttered work surface, not a wooden surface, and divide into three pieces.
Butter your hands.
Begin working the dough into round, smooth forms; in Italian this process is known as the “pirlatura”.
Lightly roll each dough ball until it is round and smooth.
Use your hands and begin at the top of the dough ball, pushing/sliding your hands down towards the base of the dough ball.
Turn the ball clockwise as you smooth the ball from top to bottom.
Make sure you smooth/slide your hands along the dough ball from top to bottom and slightly underneath.
Once the ball is silky and smooth, roll it on its side and continue the “pirlatura” process of sliding your hands across the dough ball from top to bottom and underneath.
The dough ball should now be very smooth and uniform, with no air bubbles or seams whatsoever.
Place the dough balls in the panettone papers.
Cover lightly with clingfilm and allow to rise until the dough is about an inch from the top, about two hours.

Bake the panettone:
About 30 minutes before the panettone have fully risen in the panettone papers, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Make sure your oven rack is placed on a low enough shelf to allow you to fit the panettone in the oven.
Remove the clingfilm and let the surface dry out and form a crust (about five minutes) so you can make a crisscross incision on the surface of the panettone.
Use a buttered razor blade or very sharp buttered knife.
Make the incision very carefully as you don’t want to deflate the panettone.
Place a tablespoon nut of butter in the center of the criss cross.
Place the panettone in the oven, along with a cup of hot water, and bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake until golden brown and a wooden barbecue stick inserted into the center of the panettone comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes.
An instant read thermometer inserted into the panettone will read about 195°F.
Midway through baking you may need to place a sheet of tinfoil lightly atop each panettone if you see they have already baked to a golden brown.

Cool the panettone:
As soon as you remove the panettone from the oven, insert two skewers into the base about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom. Insert the skewers parallel or in a crisscross fashion.
Flip the panettone over gently and hang upside down over a large pot.
In the absence of a large pot, you can place them upside down over a deep sink or some other support system such as a stack of books.
Let the panettone cool to room temperature, for at least two hours.
You can let the panettone rest further by laying them down sideways supported by rolled up towels.

Panettone are layed on their side on rolled up dish towels to cool down

At this point remove the skewers and place the panettone upright.

panettone fresh out of the oven
Wrap in airtight plastic wrap or tin foil.
Store in a sealed freezer bag.
Panettone that are kept refrigerated will maintain their freshness for several weeks.
Panettone freeze well.

Fresh baked panettone are the perfect dessert for your holiday table!

Panettone

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 50 minutes
Print

Ingredients

Total ingredients required for the panettone:

  • 32 grams compressed yeast
  • 260 grams eggs about 5 eggs
  • 170 grams egg yolks from about 8 1/2 eggs.
  • 1.2 kilogram all-purpose flour
  • 254 grams granulated sugar
  • 500 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 100 milliliters water
  • 400 grams dried cranberries or sultana raisins or a mixture of the two
  • Optional: candied citrus fruit finely cubed (roughly 80 grams cedro and 150 grams orange)
  • 100 milliliters rum for soaking the dried cranberries
  • Zest from one lemon and one orange
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 60 grams honey

Special equipment needed:

  • Six long knitting needles or barbecue skewers long enough to skewer the base of the panettone, leaving 3 to 4 inches at each end.
  • Three 1/2 kg panettone papers; you can find these in gourmet specialty stores or online.
  • If you don't have panettone papers you can use large cans (used coffee or tomato cans) as a substitute. In this case grease the inside of the cans and then line with parchment paper. If you plan to use the panettone for gifts it's well worth it to purchase panettone papers as they make a lovely presentation.
  • Although not strictly necessary a large sturdy mixer with a dough hook is advisable. I swear by my KitchenAid.

Ingredients for the flavor mix:

  • 60 grams honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Zest from one lemon and one orange

Ingredients for the first rising:

  • 24 grams compressed yeast
  • 100 milliliters warm water
  • 80 grams eggs about 1 1/2 eggs
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 24 grams sugar

Ingredients for the second rising:

  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams eggs about 2 eggs
  • 20 grams egg yolks from about 1 egg
  • 80 grams sugar
  • 150 grams unsalted butter at room temperature

Ingredients for the support dough, to be added with the third rising:

  • 8 grams compressed yeast
  • 30 grams eggs about 2/3 egg
  • 50 grams all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the third  rising:

  • 500 grams all-purpose flour
  • 350 grams butter at room temperature
  • 150 grams eggs about 3 eggs
  • 150 grams egg yolks from about 7 1/2 eggs
  • 150 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

The night before prepare the flavor mixture:

  1. Mix the honey, lemon and orange zest, and vanilla in a small glass bowl.
  2. Cover with clingfilm and set aside.

The night before soak the Sultana raisins or cranberries:

  1. Soak the raisins or cranberries in rum or water at room temperature for several hours.
  2. Drain, pat dry and place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.
  3. Cover with a dishtowel and allow to dry overnight.

Prepare the first rising:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the first rising together in the mixer using a paddle.
  2. Place the dough in a glass or plastic bowl, cover with a damp dishtowel or clingfilm, and allow to rise until doubled in volume. This will take about 1 1/4 hours.

Prepare the second rising:

  1. Place the dough from the first rising into the mixer.

  2. Add the flour and begin mixing using the paddle.

  3. When the flour is fully blended in, add the eggs.
  4. Once the dough is fully mixed and begins to pull away from the sides of the mixer, slowly add the sugar and the butter, in thirds.
  5. Mix until it’s fully incorporated and pulling away from the sides of the mixer.
  6. Place the dough, covered, in a glass or plastic bowl and allow to rise, tripling in volume. This should take from 2 to 4 hours.

Prepare the support dough while the second dough is rising:

  1. Whisk the flour, compressed yeast, and eggs together until smooth and creamy.
  2. Set aside.

Prepare the third rising:

  1. Place the dough from the second rising in the mixer and add the flour and support dough.
  2. Add the eggs and flavor mixture and once this is fully incorporated into the dough, add the sugar, salt and butter in thirds mixing well after each addition.
  3. The dough should separate from the sides of the mixer and be smooth and stretchy.
  4. Add the cranberries or raisins and the candied fruit and continue mixing just until the fruit is well distributed within the dough.
  5. Place the dough, covered, in a glass or plastic bowl and allow to rise until doubled in volume, roughly 2 hours.

Prepare the dough for placement in the panettone baking papers, the “pirlatura”:

  1. Place the dough on a very lightly buttered work surface, not a wooden surface, and divide into three pieces.
  2. Butter your hands.
  3. Begin working the dough into round, smooth forms; in Italian this process is known as the “pirlatura”.
  4. Lightly roll each dough ball until it is round and smooth.
  5. Use your hands and begin at the top of the dough ball, pushing/sliding your hands down towards the base of the dough ball.
  6. Turn the ball clockwise as you smooth the ball from top to bottom.
  7. Make sure you smooth/slide your hands along the dough ball from top to bottom and slightly underneath.
  8. Once the ball is silky and smooth, roll it on its side and continue the “pirlatura” process of sliding your hands across the dough ball from top to bottom and underneath.
  9. The dough ball should now be very smooth and uniform, with no air bubbles or seams whatsoever.
  10. Place the dough balls in the panettone papers.
    Panettone ready to be baked!
  11. Cover lightly with clingfilm and allow to rise until the dough is about an inch from the top, about two hours.

Bake the panettone:

  1. About 30 minutes before the panettone have fully risen in the panettone papers, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Make sure your oven rack is placed on a low enough shelf to allow you to fit the panettone in the oven.
  3. Remove the clingfilm and let the panettone surface dry out and form a crust (about five minutes) so you can make a crisscross incision on the surface of the panettone.
  4. Use a buttered razor blade or very sharp buttered knife.
  5. Make the incision very carefully as you don't want to deflate the panettone.
  6. Place a tablespoon nut of butter in the center of the criss cross.
  7. Place the panettone in the oven, along with a cup of hot water, and bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  9. Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake until the panettone are golden brown and a wooden barbecue stick inserted into the center of the panettone comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes.
  10. An instant read thermometer inserted into the panettone will read about 195°F.
  11. Midway through baking you may need to place a sheet of tinfoil lightly atop each panettone if you see they have already baked to a golden brown.

Cool the panettone:

  1. As soon as you remove the panettone from the oven, insert two skewers into the base of the panettone about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom. Insert the skewers parallel or in a crisscross fashion.
  2. Flip the panettone over gently and hang upside down over a large pot.
  3. In the absence of a large pot, you can place the panettone upside down over a deep sink or some other support system such as a stack of books.
  4. Let the panettone cool to room temperature, for at least two hours.
  5. You can let the panettone rest further by laying them down sideways supported by rolled up towels.
    Panettone are layed on their side on rolled up dish towels to cool down
  6. At this point remove the skewers and place the panettone upright.
  7. Wrap the panettone in airtight plastic wrap or tin foil.
  8. Store in a sealed freezer bag.
  9. Panettone that are kept refrigerated will maintain their freshness for several weeks.
  10. Panettone freeze well.

Recipe Notes

Notes:

This recipe yields three 1/2 kg panettone. Let's face it, if you're spending a day to bake a panettone it's well worth it to bake three at the same time. Panettone make wonderful holiday gifts so it's great to have a few extra on hand. They also freeze well. Begin by assembling all of your ingredients, and then divide them up by what you will need for each step and dough rising.

A few comments on the ingredients and procedure.

For the all-purpose flour I strongly suggest that you use a high-quality flour such as King Arthur.
Italian flour is classified quite differently from American flour and a classic Italian panettone recipe would call for a strong, or gluten rich, flour such as Manitoba flour or W380 flour. If you have access to either of these flour types by all means use them in place of all-purpose flour.

I like panettone made with dried cranberries that have been soaked the night before in rum. If you want to stick to a classic recipe then you should use the Sultana raisins and candied citrus fruit. Feel free to add your own flavor twist to the panettone: try adding mini chocolate chips, crumbled chestnuts or pine nuts.

I strongly suggest you use a fresh brewers yeast rather than a packaged dry yeast for panettone. If you happen to have a good mother yeast on hand by all means use that in place of the brewers yeast.

Egg amounts are indicated in grams as this is the most precise way to measure ingredients for baking. Eggs can differ in size, and therefore weight, but an average large U.S. egg weighs roughly 50 g out of the shell, and about 1/3 of this is yolk. Next to the egg weight in the ingredients list I have indicated the approximate number of eggs required, assuming an egg weight of 50 g.

To facilitate the speed of dough risings you should rise the dough in an unheated oven with the oven light on, or a warm spot in your kitchen. The dough will rise best if the room is about 80°F.

 

Full disclosure: I make a small commission for purchases made through links on my blog. Prices are identical to those on the Amazon website, but purchasing through my link helps support my work in bringing you great recipes and culinary information!

 

 

Christmas is around the corner and once again it’s time to make panettone, the Italian classic sweet bread loaf that you find on every Italian table during the holidays!

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