Panettone – Italian Christmas Bread

pannatone-cake-christmasPanettone is the Italian’s answer to Christmas cake, so it is a great option if you’re looking for something traditional that isn’t the usual Christmas pud. It has a gorgeous texture and is infused with citrus fruits, so it is guaranteed to calm your sweet cravings this season. It can be eaten as cake or as bread, and would complement a cup of tea or coffee perfectly!


  • 3 baking-safe panettone paper moulds
  • 5 tablespoons warm water (around 45c)
  • 2 (7g) sachets dried active baking yeast
  • 500g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 325g mixed glace fruits
  • 2.5 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream


  1. To make the sponge, warm a small bowl by rinsing it with hot water. Pour in warm water and sprinkle one sachet of yeast on it. Let it stand until the yeast has dissolved. Stir in 60g of the flour, cover with cling film, and let it stand for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  2. In a jug, sprinkle your remaining yeast over warm milk and let it stand until dissolved. In a separate, large bowl, beat together the caster sugar, eggs, 2 egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in the milk-yeast mixture, then add the sponge and stir until well incorporated.
  3. Combine the 12 tablespoons of butter and remaining flour until crumbly. Slowly pour in the egg mixture and beat on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough is elastic looking and long strands form. Beat in fruits and zests, then turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Fold down moulds to form a 7cm cuff. Brush inside and out with melted butter. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to deflate. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball before dropping them into each prepared mould. Place bags on a baking tray about 10cm apart and cover loosely with cling film. Let rise in a warm place until doubled again, about 2 hours.
  5. Heat your oven to 200c/gas mark 6. Cut an X into the top of each loaf with oiled scissors. Combine the remaining egg yolk with cream, and brush the tops of the loaves lightly with it.
  6. Place the baking tray in the bottom third of the oven. After 10 minutes, lower the heat to 190c/gas mark 5 and bake for a further 30 minutes. If the tops get too brown, cover them with foil. The loaves will be done when a skewer inserted into the centre of each one comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

This recipe is a little more complex and time-consuming than other recipes we have shared here, but it is definitely worth it if you want to do something different for Christmas!

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