Panettone (Daring Bakers Challenge December 2012)


Homemade panettone ROCKS!  I love everything about this cake – the zesty aromas, the soft texture & buttery flavours.  Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve noticed this cake moving from the realms of the exclusive deli to the budget supermarket.  The £3.99 version is often on the dry side with a burnt flavoured crust, fine toasted & covered in jam. But definitely doesn’t do this cake justice. The more premium versions are just so pretty – amazingly stylish box, the mini ones even come with a ribbon so that you can hang them off the Christmas tree!  However, this was my first attempt of making panettone (and hopefully not the last!) 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!


Fortunately I had already a jar of homemade candied peel in my fridge as I had made mince pies the previous week. I had finally found a use for the orange that we sneakily plucked from a tree whilst on honeymoon in Seville, it was green at the time but had gradually ripened.


The recipe requires some good organisational skills, strong arms and a warm house.  As a serial multi-tasker (juggling 4 jobs) I can confirm that I am extremely organised.  On a day working in my home office, I took regular baking breaks in between  chirpy social media posts, formal emails, number crunching and trampolining. Beating cold butter into a bread dough is an excellent workout for your arms, and a guaranteed bingo-wing preventer.  The warm house was a bit more challenging – although I love living in a cute terraced house, I’m cursed with drafty wooden floorboards, single glazing & limited roof insulation. The bedroom thermometer says it all – I’m used to 12 degrees first thing in the morning, 13 if I’m lucky. The cold climate made beating in the butter which hadn’t softened at ‘Room Temperature’, really difficult.  I laughed at the idea of my dough ‘doubling in size’, I’d be lucky if there was any movement at all! Action was needed – I took my dough to the studio one day during a life drawing class when I knew there would be guaranteed warmth.  I nervously rested my dough near the radiators, hoping that the yeast didn’t get chilblains from the extreme temperature change.  I even resorted to hugging the bowls of dough up to my chest like a penguin incubating an egg.


The lack of tall baking tins forced me to improvise; I used large glass pickled gherkin jars.  I did try making panettone papers as described by this month’s host, but found rolling the dough in greased baking parchment just as effective and a lot easier.

making panetone group

I made 3 additional flavours to the original (and those who know me won’t be surprised of the flavours I used)

A green one made with the very last of my Matcha powder, filled with dates & candied peel, studded with pumpkin seeds. No more green cakes until I buy another tin

A chocolate chai latte flavoured one using cocoa, cinnamon and crushed black cardamom, filled with crystallized ginger & candied peel, topped with flaked almond.

An extreme chocolate one flavoured with lots of cocoa, a pinch of chilli powder, filled with cranberries & candied peel, topped with poppy seeds.


Good news – they grew in the right direction in the oven! Bad news – the tops were lopsided and lumpy, and burnt in places. I didn’t attempt to hang them upside down to cool as these were heavy as bricks! My panettone were cakey rather than bready, but still absolutely delicious!

out the oven

Second panettone attempt involved accidentally modifying the recipe. Broken printer – I decided to work from memory as I was pretty confident that I could remember it…However, I got the measurements wrong. I added too much water in the sponge and the first dough. I tried to rectify this by reducing the egg content from two to one. My other modifications included:

–          Using a combination of olive oil & vegetable margarine instead of butter,

–           Reducing the sugar content  by 50%,

–           Using one entire egg instead of 2 egg yolks in the second dough.

The wetter dough was a joy to mix, but I had to add more flour to the final dough when kneading it.


I decided to play with the fillings of my second batch:

Dates soaked in Coffee with walnuts

Mulled wine infused cranberries & sultanas

Mini orange chocolate chip

choc chip mini pan

The weather has got warmer so the yeast was happily releasing gasses & the dough was growing healthily, perhaps a bit too enthusiastic in some cases. My final panettone I left to prove during the day, unaware that my husband had turned on the heating, so I came back to a bulbous dome at the top of my gherkin jar. It grew further in the oven, with hilarious results, replicating what my husband described as a ‘Primitive fertility artefact’.  I brought this phallic symbol along to a Christmas lunch, my fellow diners nick-named ‘Penis Cake’.  Despite its unfortunate form, it was a tasty bake.



Preparation time:

35 minutes

First Dough
mixing 15-20 minutes
rising time 1 -1 ¼ hours

Second dough
mixing 15-20 minutes
Rising time 2 ½ – 4 hours or overnight in a cool place

Final dough and rise
preparing and mixing 1 hour
rising 2-4 hours
Baking 40 minutes
Cooling 30 minutes

Almond Glaze extra 15 minutes

Candied Orange Peel
Prep time about 1 hour
Cooking time 3 hours plus resting time

Equipment required:

  • Small bowl (for the sponge and soaking the raisins)
  • Spoon
  • Stand mixer with paddle and dough hook or wooden spoon, medium large bowl and arm strength
  • Measuring cups, spoons and scales
  • Plastic wrap
  • Large bowl for rising the dough
  • Paper towel to dry the raisins
  • Grater
  • Medium bowl for mixing filling
  • Panettone papers or pans as above
  • Food processor and spoon for Almond Glaze
  • Cutting board for candied orange peels
  • Knife for candied orange peels
  • Saucepan for candied orange peels
  • Wooden spoon for candied orange peels


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
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
1½ cups (250 gm) (9 oz) golden raisins or golden sultanas
½ cup (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) candied citron ( I didn’t have this so I made it up with candied orange peel)
½ cup (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) candied orange peel (try making your own; recipe below)
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



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

First Dough

By hand:

  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.
  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

By Mixer:

  1. In the mixer bowl, mix together the yeast and water and allow to stand until creamy. Again, about 10 minutes or so
  2. With the paddle attached mix in the sponge, eggs, flour, and sugar.
  3. Add in the butter and mix for 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and even.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and allow double in size, about 1 – 1 ¼ hours

Second dough

By Hand:

  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, essences/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.

By Mixer:

  1. With the paddle mix in thoroughly the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, honey, vanilla, essences/extracts, and salt.
  2. Mix in the butter until smooth.
  3. Add the flour and slowly incorporate.
  4. At this stage the dough will seem a little too soft, like cookie dough.
  5. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead for about 2 minutes.
  6. Turn out the dough and knead it on a well-floured surface until it sort of holds its shape.
  7. 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.
  • 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 but I preferred this method.

Filling and Final Rise:

  1. Soak the raisin/sultanas in water 30 minutes before the end of the first rise. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Now take your dough and cut it in half. Remember we are making two panettoni.
  3. Combine all your filling ingredients and mix well
  4. Press out one portion of dough into an oval shape
  5. Sprinkle over one quarter of the filling and roll up the dough into a log
  6. Press out again into an oval shape and sprinkle over another quarter of the filling
  7. Roll into a log shape again.
  8. Repeat with the second portion of dough
  9. Shape each into a ball and slip into your prepared pans, panettone papers or homemade panettone papers.
  10. Cut an X into the top of each panettone and allow to double in size.
  11. 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.


  1. 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
  2. Just before baking carefully (don’t deflate it!) cut the X into the dough again and place in a knob (a nut) of butter.
  3. Place your panettoni in the oven and bake for 10 minutes
  4. Reduce the heat to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and bake for another 10 minutes
  5. 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.
  6. 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. If you have used pans cool in the pans for 30 minutes then remove and cushion with towels as above.
  7. 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. Yep, a lot of trouble and I didn’t really find that much difference – maybe I took too long to insert the needles.

Almond Glaze for Panettone


1 cup (140 gm) (5 oz) whole blanched almonds
1 cup (125 gm) (4 ½ oz) confectioners’ (icing) sugar
2 tablespoons (18 gm) (2/3 oz) whole wheat flour
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons (45 ml) good quality extra virgin olive oil
Few drops of almond essence, to your taste
Pearl sugar, flaked almonds or demerara (course crystal) sugar to decorate

During the final rise, prepare the almond glaze. Process almond, confectioners’ sugar and flour until the nuts are finely chopped and well blended. Mix in the egg whites, oil and essence. Process to combine. It is meant to be thick and glue like. All is well! When the panettoni are well risen carefully spread half the mixture over the top. Don’t worry about spreading it to the edges, in fact keep well away from the edges because the glaze will melt and spread. Bake as per the panettone recipe above.

Candied Orange Peel

9 thin skinned oranges
3½ cups (800 gm) (28 oz) sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) corn syrup (If corn syrup is not available you can use a dash of lemon juice or cream of tartar.)
Water as needed
Granulated sugar


  1. Wash and dry oranges then cut the tops and bottoms off.
  2. Cut into 6 or 8 pieces vertically
  3. Remove the flesh with a sharp knife and reserve for another use (or just munch on it)
  4. Put the peels in a large saucepan and cover with water
  5. Cook slowly over gently heat until the peels are tender – about ¾ hour to 1 hour
  6. Drain and cover with fresh water. Sit for an hour or up to overnight. Drain
  7. Into another large saucepan pour 2 cups of water. Mix in the sugar and the corn syrup.
  8. Bring mixture to boil then add peels. Partially cover the pan.
  9. Reduce heat to very low and using a candy thermometer adjust the temperature so that (212°F to 222°F) 100°C to 105°C is maintained. You may need to add extra water – I didn’t
  10. After 2 hours has passed remove the lid and rise the temperature to (235°F) 110°C so that it boils and the water evaporates
  11. Turn off the heat and wait until the bubbles subside
  12. Scoop out the peels with a slotted spoon and place on a rack to cool and dry.
  13. After a couple of hours the peels are ready to roll in sugar and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. These will keep well for a few months in the bottom of your fridge.

Freezing/Storage Instructions/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 dry like the commercial variety. I found that the glaze kept the panettone a bit more moist. I didn’t freeze mine but I have frozen the commercial variety for a month or two.

Additional Information: Video on making Panettone

How to make homemade Panettone papers:

Cut 6 long strips on baking parchment and arrange in a star pattern on a baking parchment lined oven tray. Staple the middle.

Place the Panettone dough in the middle

Wrap strips around the dough.

Make a collar out of baking parchment using a cake pan or saucepan to give the shape and staple in place.

Remove the collar from the cake pan and slip over the dough. Attach the strips of paper which cover the dough to the collar with staples.
Bake as directed without removing from the oven tray.
Looks rough but it works. Takes a bit of fiddling.


5 responses to “Panettone (Daring Bakers Challenge December 2012)

  1. Congratulations! You have probably made the most varieties of panettone of any posts I have seen. I love you flavour combinations particularly the Chocolate Chai Latte! Mmmmm!

  2. What fantastic flavours – particularly love the idea of dates soaked in coffee – they are such versatile dried fruits! The small child in me had a little chuckle too at the unintentionally phallic cakes – hehe!

  3. What an amazing journey you have been on with your Panettone efforts! Apart from the incredible flavours and textures your story is redolent of myths of yore. Hugging your charge, like Natsu and the Dragon Egg,
    your perseverance was rewarded with a tasty creation. You battled against the elements – both the cold of the house and the broken printer – like a resolute hobbit on a mission. The symbolism of your final creation is perhaps a statement about the misogyny to be found in fairy tales, from the Brothers Grimm onwards. The princess always passive as Prince Charming and the proverbial dragon battle it out. Your own multi-tasking, rightly earning you the accolade Domestic Goddess in the New Years honours list, would put any placid princess to shame.

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