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