Chef in disguise :panettone

The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina.  Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!

Panettone is an Italian sweet bread that is traditionally made in the holiday season. It is a very light,  not-overly-sweet brioche studded with melting sultanas and candied citrus fruit  – soft, aromatic and delicious. There are variations on this traditional  idea of panettone. It can be made as individual buns,or in a tube or bundt pan.  It can be made without the candied fruit, or without the sultanas, sometimes  flavoured with cocoa instead, or coated in a thin shell of chocolate.

To match its rich ingredients, panettone comes with many legends and stories to explain the name. One  story talks of a young kitchen-boy who saved the day when  the court baker burnt the cakes meant for a royal dinner.  While the baker was busy having a nervous breakdown, Toni the kitchen-boy stepped  forth and threw together all the luxury ingredients he could find – eggs,  butter, sugar, raisins and made this bread. The guests hailed the cook as a genius, and the man  admitted that the credit should go to young Toni instead. The bread was named ‘Pan di Toni’  “Toni’s bread” .

Chef in disguise: panettone

Another legend claims that a rich young Milanese noble who fell in love with the daughter of a poor baker whose name was Tony (Antonio). The nobleman wanted to marry the baker’s daughter so he ensured the baker had at his disposal the very best ingredients – eggs, butter, flour, candied orange peel, citron and sultanas. The baker created a wonderful bread which became known as pan di Tonio (Tony’s bread). The baker found his fame and fortune and the nobleman honorably married the baker’s daughter.

Regardless of how true or imaginative those legends are,this bread was a treat! Not only did it smell heavenly while baking but biting into a slice of this panettone felt like eating clouds! Sweet fluffy clouds. I know that reading the recipe will make the whole process seem a little intimidating, I will not deny that it was time consuming but the active time working with the dough is really short, most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rise. After spending two days making this bread, I am here to tell you that the result was more than worth it.

I  stuck to the recipe except for the flavoring  extracts and the filling. I used orange blossom water instead of orange extract and added a touch of almond extract. I also used tea to soak the raisins, Earl grey to be specific because I thought it matched the citrus tones of the orange peel. I added dates to the filling, candied orange peel , raisins and candied fruits. I loved how that turned out but I think I will add more filling next time because I want every slice of bread to be rich with colors and textures

Thank you Marcellina for a wonderful challenge,I look forward to trying more flavor combinations. Chocolate is on the top of the list.

Chef in disguise:panettone bread

Recipe Source:
Panettone challenge recipe provided by Marcellina slightly adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field


Makes 2 Panettoni



1 satchel (2¼ teaspoons) (7 gm) active dry yeast

1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water

½ cup (70 gm) unbleached all purpose flour

First Dough

1 satchel (2¼ teaspoons) (7 gm) active dry yeast

3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water

2 large eggs, at room temp

1¼ cup (175 gm) unbleached all-purpose (plain) flour

¼ cup (55 gm) (2 oz) sugar

½ cup (1 stick) (115 gm) unsalted butter, at room temp

Second dough

2 large eggs 3 large egg yolks

2/3 cup (150 gm) (5-2/3 oz) sugar

3 tablespoons (45 ml) honey

1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract

1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon essence/extract

1 teaspoon (5 ml) orange essence/extract I used 2 teaspoons orange blossom water instead

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt 1 cup (2 sticks) (225 gm) unsalted butter, at room temp

3 cups (420 gm) (15 oz) unbleached all-purpose (plain) flour; plus up to (2/3 cup) 100 gm for kneading

Filling and final dough

1 cups (250 gm) (9 oz) golden raisins or golden sultanas

1 cup Earl Grey tea

3/4 cup  candied orange peel I used my homemade candied orange peel

3/4 cup chopped  dates

1/2 cup chopped candied fruit

Grated zest of 1 orange

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 to 3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) (15-25 gm) unbleached all-purpose (plain) flour

Chef in disguise sliced panettone bread



    1. Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl and allow to stand until creamy.(10 minutes )
    2. Mix in the flour.
    3. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size for about 20 to 30 minutes


First Dough

  1. Mix the yeast and water in a large bowl and allow to stand until creamy. Again, about 10 minutes or so
  2. Mix in the sponge and beat well with a wooden spoon
  3. Stir in the eggs, flour and sugar.(I added a teaspoon of vinegar to avoid egg smell in the final bread)
  4. Mix in the butter well
  5. This should only take about 5 – 6 minutes
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and allow double in size, about 1 – 1 ¼ hours


Second dough

  1. Be sure to have your dough in a large bowl as above.
  2. With a wooden spoon mix in eggs, egg yolk, sugar, honey, vanilla, orange blossom water/extracts and salt.
  3. Mix in the butter.
  4. Then add the flour. Stir until smooth.
  5. At this stage the dough will seem a little too soft, like cookie dough.
  6. Turn it out and knead it on a well-floured surface until it sort of holds its shape. Don’t knead in too much flour but you may need as much as 2/3 cup (100 gm). Be careful the excess flour will affect the finished product.


First Rise

    1. Oil a large bowl lightly, plop in your dough and cover with plastic wrap
    2. Now we need to let it rise until it has tripled in size. There are two ways to go about this.
    3. Rise in a warm place for 2 – 4 hours
    • Or find a cool spot (64°F -68°F) (18°C – 20°C) and rise overnight
    • Or rise for 2 hours on your kitchen bench then slow the rise down and place in the refrigerator overnight. If you do this it will take some time to wake up the next morning. The day I made panettone was really cold and it took 5 hours for the dough to triple. You don’t see it in the picture but the side of the bowl had markings to track the dough rise.
Making the panettone paper
panettone paper
Cut 6 strips of parchment paper and arrange them as you can see in the picture
        panettone paper 1
Place the dough in the center where the strips cross
stick the strips to the surface  of the dough
Cut a rectangle out of parchment paper and roll it to form a tube 6 inches in diameter. Use staples to hold the tube
Place the dough with the parchment strips inside the parchment tube.
Your parchment tube needs to be a little over double the size of the dough. (as you can see the one I made was much longer, I cut it later)
Making a parchment paper extention for a regular baking pan
For one of the panettone I used an 8 inch baking pan
I cut a rectangle  out of parchment and then formed it into a tube the same diameter as the pan.
I used staples to fix the tube shape

Filling and Final Rise:


Soak the raisin/sultanas in water 30 minutes before the end of the first rise. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Now take your dough and cut it in half. Remember we are making two panettoni.

Combine all your filling ingredients and mix well

Roll out one half of the dough into an oval shap

Sprinkle over one quarter of the filling and roll up the dough into a log

Roll out the dough again into an oval shape and sprinkle over another quarter of the filling

Roll into a log shape again.

Do the same with the second portion of dough

Shape each into a ball and slip into your prepared pans, panettone papers or homemade panettone papers.


Cut an X into the top of each panettone and allow to double in size.I forgot to make the x cuts at fist and remembered half way through rising . Maybe that was part of the reason it took the panettone extra time to rise


Rising time will vary according to method of first rise. If it has been in the refrigerator it could take 4 hours or more. If it has been rising on the kitchen bench in a warm place it should be doubled in about 2 hours.It took my dough an over night stay in the turned off oven with the light on to double in time. It was a very cold day


When you think your dough has only about 30 minutes left to rise preheat your oven to moderately hot  400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and adjust your oven racks to the middle position

Just before baking carefully (don’t deflate it!) cut the X into the dough again and place in a knob (a nut) of butter


Place your panettoni in the oven and bake for 10 minutes

Reduce the heat to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and bake for another 10 minutes

Reduce the heat again to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3 and bake for 30 minutes until the tops are well browned and a skewer inserted into the panettone comes out clean.

Cooling your panettone

is also important. If you have use papers (commercial or homemade) lie your panettoni on their side cushioned with rolled up towels. Turn gently as they cool. (I found that using this method cause the panettone to collapse, cooling the panettone upside down or in the pan gave better results)

If you have used pans cool in the pans for 30 minutes then remove and cushion with towels as above.


Panettone can also be cooled suspended. How to do this?

Firstly you need to use papers (commercial or homemade), insert clean knitting needles into the bottom of the panettone in a X shape.


Flip over and support the knitting needles on the edges of a large saucepan with the panettone suspended within the saucepan.


Notes on making panettone:

Panettone Filling

Traditionally panettone is filled with candied orange peel, raisins and candied citron peel but that does not mean there is no room for creativity. Think dates, candied fruit, chocolate chips, candied ginger, butterscotch, the possibilities and flavor match options are endless

Soakig the raisins

To add more flavor to your filling think about soaking it in fruit juice or tea. Earl Grey is a good option if you are using candied citrus because it has citrus tones but orange juice works well too

Extracts and flavoring agents

There are a variety of extracts used to flavor panettone. orange extract, almond extract, lemon extract, vanilla. I personally used orange blossom water to replace the orange extract and I am considering adding a touch of cardamom to the dough next time like I did with the cinnamon sweet bread. (If you have never tried cardamom in sweet bread you really should, you don’t taste it as such but it adds a beautiful depth of flavor). Again, mix and match and find your own flavor combination

Why use a starter dough or sponge?

The starter or sponge serves 3 purposes.Flavor, texture and enzyme action.
The flavour of any baked good  is dependent on the ingredients used and the fermenting yeast. The longer the ferment, the greater the taste difference

Texture is in part affected by the enzyme action goining on during the bread fermentation. Modern grain-harvesting practices have reduced the naturally-occurring enzymes that grains had in former times, a result of no-longer-used grain-storage processes. Using a sponge allows more time for these enzymes to develop thus giving the baked result better texture.

Using a spong also helps with the gluten develpoment inside the bread. That in turn increases the dough extensibility which allows the protein matrix to stretch out as the mix expands, thus leading to increased baked volumes and better structure.

Storage Tips:

Once your panettone is thoroughly cooled, place in a large plastic bag or container and it will keep quite well maybe for a week. At first the panettone is soft and tender but after a day or two it becomes a little dry but then again that makes it perfect for dunking in tea or your favorite hot drink. You can also use it to make bread pudding or french toast

Chef in disguise sliced panettone bread

This post has been submitted for Yeastspotting

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  1. Anonymous

     /  December 27, 2012

    What a gorgeous loaf of panettone. Such an elaborate production to make it though. I usually just buy one at the Italian bakery and though it’s very good, it doesn’t have the love and care in it that I know you’ve put into making this for your family. Keep up the good work in the new year.

  2. Yum yum, my favourite Christmas cake! I too made my own for the very first time a few days ago! Lots of work, but so worth it! Yours look great! :-)

  3. Yum yum! My favourite Christmas cake! I too made my own for the first time a few days ago! Lots of work, but definitely worth it! Yours look perfect! :-)

  4. absolutely gorgeous Sawsan!! I love the little stories behind the recipe.. makes the recipe that much more interesting!!! and I like the idea of soaking the raisins in tea… never thought of that before!! beautiful pics.. have read so much about panetonne..but never had it… wouldnt mind a slice with my morning coffee right now!!

    Wishing you and everyone at home a very Happy new year, a new year filled with laughter, luck, love,safety, happiness and good health.

  5. Such beautiful panettoni Sawsan! I thought of your post when I made the candied orange peel – yours looks so gorgeous. I love the Earl Grey tea-soaked fruit, it sounds delicious. Beautiful photos!

  6. I really enjoy Panettone, but have never even thought of making my own. I should, though, because you show it’s so easy to do! Love the pictures and the history. Really nice post – thanks.

  7. oooh Sawsan this looks wonderful! I have seen loaves of Panettoni at our local markets, and I’ve always wondered what it consisted of because I’ve never tried it. This looks amazing! And the possibilities are endless when it comes to filling options (imagine cinnamon and sugar ;) )!

  8. Gosh, This looks so outstanding! =D

  9. Sahar

     /  December 27, 2012

    Ammmmmmmmmmazing. Love love all your recipes.. God bless

  10. Beautiful! This is one bread I’ve always wanted to try… but me and yeast just aren’t very good friends. I “may” build up the nerve to give it a shot this year

  11. Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize it was the 27th amnesia. I wasn’t sure I would be able to fit this in..and unfortunately, I didn’t, but WOW, Sawsan,,,I think yours is one of the most beautiful Pannetones I have ever seen, and your photos are gorgeous, just gorgeous! I’m definitely pinning this beauty! Hope your Christmas was amazing and wishing you an early Happy New Year!

  12. This is such a great bread, Sawsan, and I’m sure your homemade panettone is delicious. I’ve wondered how it is made and now I know because of this great “how to”
    post you’ve shared.
    I’m forever telling my friends that panettone makes the best french toast (pain perdue) and, coincidentally, once gave me some as a Christmas gift. I’m sure he’s never used it to make french toast because if he had, I doubt he’d be giving any of it away. :)
    Thanks for the recipe and great post!

  13. Cakelaw

     /  December 27, 2012

    Your panettone is magnificent! Fabulous job.

  14. So pretty panettoni :) The candied fruits look beautiful.

  15. Your panettone is amazing! I will use orange blossom water next time, I think that is a great idea! BTW I love your tea set! How gorgeous!

  16. How lovely! I really like panettone and have tried my hand at it many years ago, your recipe reminded me why I haven’t made it again, very time consuming. Your bread looks like it turned out perfectly. I have bought commercial panettone with chocolate in it instead if dried fruit and it is very tasty too.
    I sometimes make panettone French toast with commercial panettone, you can find the delicious recipe idea here

  17. Absolutely beautiful and well presented with great pictures. I am not a baker and I want to head for the kitchen and bake a Panettone right now. Thank you for such a fest for my eyes. Happy New Year! Giangi

  18. Beautiful! What are the little curls? Apricots?

  19. Wow, wonderful job! Your panettone looks utterly fantastic (and so does that candied orange peel!). Awesome idea about soaking in Earl Grey tea, too!

  20. I started smiling when I saw the title of your post on my email feed… why? First because it is one of Phil’s favorite things in the world, and today is his Birthday, so it was nice to see it on the very day… Second, because having made panetonne once with pretty lousy results, I knew how involved it is, and also knew you would do a FANTASTIC job making it!

    very very very VERY nice!

    gorgeous photos as usual…. great job!

  21. What a great looking panettone Sawsan! I love all the photos and tips! I will have to work up the courage to make it myself. :)

  22. Sawsan………I have visited the famous panattoni makers all over Italy and toured their factories. YOU have impressed me beyond expectations. NEVER would I attempt to create this marvelous bread. You have are quite the over achiever and culinary genius!!!

  23. Wow this looks great. I didn’t realize what was involved in making panetonni before. I also love your tea ware, it’s really beautiful!

  24. Oh my goodness Sawson this Panettoni is amazing. Thanks so much for mapping out those step by step instructions so that it is easy to follow. I love those little candied swirls on top it really adds to its unique character. I think the world needs to know about your panettoni so going to post this on facebook. Wishing you and your family a very happy 2012. Take care, BAM

  25. This panettoni looks amazing! You are a real master!

  26. Photos are so beautiful and your panettone looks amazing!

  27. kennedy

     /  December 27, 2012

    Amazing, you took the recipe to a new level.. I make this bread for Easter and to achieve the height I use coffee tin and parchment paper! I glaze the bread with a mixture of Lemon juice and icing sugar.. I love the look of your bread and will be adding your touches!!

  28. I love recipes that come with a history of their beginnings. What a beautiful loaf you made, what thought and care you’ve put into the instructions, and inviting photos too. Simply wonderful!

  29. You did a great job, panettone looks wonderful!

  30. One of my family’s favorite treats! This is so beautiful, Sawsan.

  31. love how you styled this! the orange peel rosettes are so pretty! great post!

  32. MashaAllah, this looks beautiful. May Allaah place barakah in your food and give you better than it.

  33. Mmmm, definitely make the chocolate one next!

  34. This is amazing!! I am going to show this to my Italian friends!! It looks like a Panettone made by an excellent Italian pasticceria!!!!

  35. Wow, this is beautiful! What a great tutorial on how to make it perfectly. Your photos are so gorgeous and I’m sure this is so much better than a store bought one. Best wishes to you and your family in the new year!

  36. Stunning! A cookbook photo shot if I ever saw one!

  37. So beautiful, as always. Great job :)

  38. I knew that I would find something beautiful here – this is the prettiest looking panettone I have ever seen. Gorgeous!

  39. Fantastic, Sawsan! Even I, Half-Italian and baker-from-scratch, bought the (2!) panettone sitting in my house,(one half-eaten by me!)

  40. What an incredible challenge! I lived in Italy for 9 years and never dreamed of making my own panettone. You have done a great job – it looks so authentic and probably tastes heaps better than the bought ones. Thanks for the legends – I never knew about either of those.

  41. This… is …. A..MA…ZING
    ahhhhhhhhhhhhh the best Panettone I’ve seen so far!!

  42. Oh my gosh, you did such a marvelous job with this – your panettone looks picture perfect, the filling you chose (along with the extracts/substitutions) sound mouth watering, and your homemade panettone papers worked out amazingly! You are a marvel.

  43. Your panettone photo with the pretty ribbon on is simply stunning, Sawsan they look so authentic! I love this challenge too, and was so excited to make it, though I only halved it (and regretted the decision to halve it after I tasted the baked one!)..your effort is well worth it, as the panettone look utterly scrumptious.

  44. Love seeing everyone’s panettones. Yours looks like such a more delicate texture. I like it very much. I can imagine having a slice for breakfast in the morning and along with my tea in the afternoons. Looks yum!

  45. Wow!!! Your panettone is absolutely breathtaking. So tall and I truly adore the candied orange peels spiraled on top. What a perfect finishing touch! Lovely.

  46. I love the bow you tied around the loaf. It would be a gorgeous dish to bring to a friend’s house. I absolutely love Panettone. I first tried it a few months ago and it was fabulous. I was always hesitant to try it because of the raisins. I have a love-hate relationship with raisins. Sometimes I enjoy them, other times not at all. But in this bread it works beautifully and I love it! Your version looks perfect. Happy New Year Sawsan!

  47. Beautiful panettone!

  48. Beautiful! I love it. Lots of work but I enjoyed the experience! It was worth it! Yours is too pretty to eat!!

  49. Beautiful! !!
    Wishing you n your family a very happy and gorgeous New Year!

  50. Gorgeous presentation and a beautiful panettone! Loved the legends about how the panettone came about, I didn’t know there was such lovely stories behind it.

  51. Oh my! That’s a panettone of beauty and I love the idea of using Earl Grey tea.

  52. I love the stories of the pannetone – they are new to me! And I am in awe that you made this bread – I have never attempted it. Time to remedy that!

  53. kouky

     /  December 29, 2012

    Your panettone looks stunning! I love it so much with date and the candied orange peel spirale!!
    happy new year Sawsan!

  54. Gorgeous! The texture looks amazing. Also love the stories you mentioned :) I’ve never read those legends before.

  55. Great step by step instructions as usual. Your panettone is just gorgeous.

  56. Sawsan your photos are always beautiful but honestly your first panettone photo is your best ever (in my humble opinion)! Such beautiful styling. The pannettone itself looks and sounds gorgeous. I’ve never made it but have bought it often – Im sure there is no comparison! Bookmarked to try one day…

  57. Evelyn

     /  December 30, 2012

    You did such a beautiful Panettone. Your details are amazing. I love the photography. what a beautiful post!

  58. I’m speechless from looking at your GORGEOUS panettone!!!! I didn’t know it’s such labor intensive to make this but I absolutely enjoying the steps with you. Very detailed recipe, Sawsan, and I even feel like I can do it with your explanation – just like you are with me in the kitchen. I always buy store bought but if I ever had a homemade, I don’t think we can go back to store bought… I’m in love with all of final pictures too. LOVE this. You always inspire me. Thank you! Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

  59. makeycakey

     /  December 31, 2012

    Beautiful – the homemade candied peel roses are just amazing!

  60. What an exquisite looking panettone! You make this look like such a luxurious bread! Perfect job!! Merry X’mas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  61. Absolutely stunning presentation! Thank you for all of the step by step photos, for when I feel like taking a stab at this!


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