As traditions go, panettone is one that’s hotly contested — some think it wouldn’t be Christmas without it, some don’t love it. If you fall into the latter category, you might want to try this traditional panettone recipe, especially if you don’t have a local Italian bakery to pick up loaves for giving.
Be sure to check out more delicious Italian recipes here!
What IS panettone, anyway?
Panettone is a cake-like yeast bread that’s dotted with bits of dried fruit. No, not a fruit cake, though it’s often mistaken as such.
Panettone has its origins in Milano, but it’s available throughout Italy during the holiday season. Stores carry the bread in a variety of sizes, perfect for sharing with friends. At family gatherings, the bread might be served with a glass of prosecco after a holiday meal. It’s a tradition that is embraced by Italian families all over the world!
If you have any Italian friends in your circle, you may very well have been gifted a loaf of this bread during the holiday season.
While Panettone is readily available in Italy, it’s not as common in America. If you wish to experience this Italian tradition, making it panettone at home from scratch is a wonderful way to do so!
Making this panettone recipe from scratch
You’ll need to plan ahead for this one! This yeasted bread requires that you make a “starter” or “sponge” and let it sit overnight. This bubbly mixture of flour, water, and yeast gives the dough a bit of a head start!
Left overnight, this starter will begin to rise and the yeast will become active, giving good rise to the panettone bread.
The following day, you’ll combine the remaining ingredients — except for the dried fruits and zest! — with the starter and allow the dough to rise for an hour or two. Once it’s nice and puffy, it’s time to add the fruit that makes this panettone recipe sing.
While this bread could be made in loaf pans, a traditional panettone recipe is baked in special paper molds. These molds are oven-proof and make it easy for giving — just tie on a ribbon or bow and off you go!
Transfer the completed dough to a baking mold and allow it to rise again, then bake. (Bread making isn’t difficult, but it does require a bit of patience!)
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
- ⅓ cup cool water
- ¼ cup lukewarm water (110 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- All of the prepared starter
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup diced candied lemon
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup diced candied oranges
- 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
To make the starter:
- Combine the starter ingredients in a medium-size bowl.
- Cover and allow to rest on the counter overnight (8 to 10 hours.)
To make the dough:
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl or the bowl for your stand mixer. Allow to sit for ten minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients to the bowl, with the exception of the fruits and zest. Mix together by hand or with a dough hook on a stand mixer until you have a soft, smooth dough.
- Cover the dough and allow to rise until it is puffy, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
- Lightly grease a panettone bread mold.
- Gently deflate the dough. Then, knead in the fruits and zest by hand or with a dough hook on a stand mixer.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Place into the prepared panettone mold. Cover and allow the dough to rise until its highest point has just crested over the rim of the baking mold, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the bread for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Finally, reduce the oven to 350 degrees and finish baking for 25 to 30 minutes. If you notice the crust beginning to brown, tent tin foil over the loaf. When done, the internal temperature will be 190 degrees.
- Cool the loaf completely before storing in an airtight container for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Mixing the dough with a bread machine:
- Place the water, eggs, vanilla and orange zest into the bread machine. Next, add the sugar, salt, and flour. [More on how to zest oranges here.]
- Dot the butter around the flour. Make an indentation into the flour and add the yeast.
- Start the bread machine using the “dough” setting.
- Before the final kneading cycle, add the remaining ingredients to the dough and allow the kneading cycle to finish.
- Remove the dough and place in a prepared panettone baking mold.
- Allow to rise and bake as previously directed.