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Published December 15, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This Amazing Italian homemade Panettone Bread Recipe is a buttery sweet dessert that is perfect to serve to family and friends for holidays and celebrations. The flavors and aromas of this bread are incredible.
Panettone is an Italian specialty sweet, buttery, flaky bread that uses a biga pre-ferment and is classically loaded with raisins, citron, and sometimes nuts and anise. A series of doughs are incorporated into one another with various proofing and fermentation times. It’s then baked in a cylinder panettone mold until the dough balloons out of the top of the mold and is very dark brown.
This sweet bread originated in Milan, Italy, and is commonly served as a dessert at Christmastime, celebrations, weddings, and christenings. Like coffee cake, I love eating it for breakfast, as a treat, or as a full-blown dessert. There are many origin stories for how this bread came to be, but none are verified.
This recipe takes some time, but it is well worth it. Watch my video below to see how to make it in detail.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Flour – You will need to use bread flour for this recipe as it has higher protein for strong gluten. If you only have all-purpose flour, it can be used, but you must decrease the amount of water by 5%.
- Yeast – I used active yeast. However, you can use instant or fresh baker’s yeast.
- Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is what’s needed.
- Eggs – You will need large egg yolks that are chilled or at room temperature.
- Butter – I always use unsalted butter in my cooking and baking to control the sodium content and not a butter company.
- Water – Plain tap or bottled water works fine.
- Honey – Any grade or color of honey will do for this panettone.
- Citrus – You will need the zest of fresh oranges and a lemon. You can use all oranges, but I do not recommend using all lemons.
- Vanilla – I used fresh vanilla beans. You can substitute 1 vanilla pod with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
- Rum – This is optional, but I like to add dark rum to my aromatics.
- Salt – I always use coarse salt in my cooking and baking.
- Chocolate – I use semi-sweet chocolate chips. You can also use milk or dark chocolate chips.
How to Make Panettone from Scratch
Mix the honey, zest, vanilla, and rum. Cover and sit for 24 hours.
Mix flour with sugar, yeast, and water in a bowl until combined. Cover and set for 12-24 hours.
Next, add flour, sugar, yeast, and cold water to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
Add the biga and continue to mix until combined.
Add 1 egg yolk at a time.
Use the hook attachment and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Once combined, knead for 4 to 5 minutes on low speed.
Transfer the dough to a container with a lid and place in a warm place until it doubles in size.
Add the dough, salt, flour, and sugar to a mixer with the hook attachment and mix slowly until the ingredients are absorbed into the dough.
Pour the remaining egg yolks, then the butter.
Add in the aromatics, knead on low speed until combined, and knead for 4 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean surface and stretch it until 12″ x 18″.
Evenly sprinkle 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips.
Fold the third bottom up to the center, and then wrap the top third over the top of the center of the dough.
Sprinkle on ½ of the remaining chocolate chips over the dough.
Fold the right over to the center, sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the folded dough, and then fold left over right.
Form a dough ball.
Add the dough to a mold. Cover and sit for 12-15 hours.
Let it sit uncovered for 1 hour before scoring the dough.
Add butter and bake for 50 to 55 minutes.
Hang the bread upside down to cool.
Slice and serve.
If you want to keep this recipe traditional, use candied peel, citron, and raisins. Add them to the dough in the same way, and at the same time, you add the chocolate chips to my recipe.
- 1/3 cup candied peel (orange, or lemon, or both)
- 1/3 cup citron (I like orange)
- 2/3 cup raisins soaked in water for 5 hours and thoroughly dried on paper towels.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 5 days ahead for freshness.
How to Store: Cover and leave at room temperature for up to 10 days. Refrigerated covered for up to 15 days. You can freeze these covered for up to 3 months. Thaw it at room temperature until thawed.
How to Reheat: If you wish to serve this warm, wrap the desired amount of bread in foil and bake in the oven at 350° for 4-6 minutes or until warm.
Chef Notes + Tips
- The longer the aromatics sit, the more intense its flavor and aroma. It can also sit for up to 48 hours.
- The longer the biga ferments, the more acidity, flavor, and structure it adds to your dough.
- The biga should double or triple in size and have plenty of fermentation bubbles when you are ready to use it.
- When ingredients start to get added to the dough while in the mixer, it will look like nothing is happening for the first 2 to 3 minutes. Be patient and wait a little longer, and the dough will start to come together.
- Place the dough into a cold oven with the door slightly cracked and the oven light turned on to accelerate the proofing times. This will decrease the amount of proofing and fermentation time by about 20%.
- If you notice after 30 minutes of the panettone cooking that it is browning too quickly, cover it with foil and turn the heat down to 325° convention for the remaining time.
- You hang the bread upside down because, due to its delicacy, it can fall if cooled right-side up.
- The dough should not be sticky after each dough is done before proofing or fermenting.
- You will know the dough is good while kneading when the bowl is clean and free from the dough where it is being mixed.
- The reason you rest the dough after fermenting it in the panettone mold is so that the dough skin hardens up, making it easier to score.
More Dessert Recipes
Homemade Panettone Bread Recipe
For the Aromatics:
- 1 tablespoon honey
- zest of 2 oranges
- zest of 1 lemon
- vanilla beans from 1 vanilla pod
- 1 ½ teaspoon dark rum
For the First Dough (Biga):
- 1/3 cup bread flour
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ packet active yeast
- 3 tablespoons water
For the Second Dough:
- 1 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons bread flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ½ packet active yeast
- ½ cup water
- first dough
- 3 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoon softened unsalted butter
For the Third Dough:
- second dough
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons bread flour
- ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
- 50 grams sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- In a small bowl, mix together the honey, orange zest, lemon zest, vanilla beans from 1 vanilla pod, and rum. Cover with plastic and sit at room temperature for 10 to 24 hours.
- For the biga, the first dough, mix 1/3 cup of bread flour with 2 grams of sugar, ½ packet of yeast, and 3 tablespoons of water with a spoon in a bowl or container until combined and the flour is hydrated. Cover and set at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
- For the second dough, add to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment 1 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of bread flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the remaining ½ packet of yeast, and ½ cup of cold water and mix on low speed until combined, which takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Next, add the biga and continue to mix on low speed until combined.
- Add in 1 egg at a time. Do not add the next egg until the one before is absorbed into the dough.
- Replace the paddle attachment with the hook attachment and then add in 4 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Do not add the next tablespoon of butter until the one before is absorbed in the dough. Once combined, knead for 4 to 5 minutes on low speed.
- Transfer the dough to a container with a lid and place in a warm place for 4 to 5 hours or until it at least doubles in size. It’s better if it tripled in size. See chef notes about proofing options.
- Add the risen dough to a stand mixer with the hook attachment along with ¾ teaspoon salt, the remaining ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons of bread flour, and 1/3 cup of sugar and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are absorbed into the dough. This takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Like the process with the second dough, add the remaining egg yolks, and then the butter.
- Once mixed in, add the honey-citrus aromatics, knead on low speed until combined, and then knead for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a clean surface and carefully stretch it until it is roughly 12” to 14” inches wide by 18” inches in length.
- Evenly sprinkle 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips over the top of the dough.
- Then, fold the third bottom up to the center, and then wrap the top third over the top of the center of the dough.
- Sprinkle on ½ of the remaining chocolate chips over the dough.
- Fold the right part of the dough to the center, sprinkle on the remaining ½ of the chocolate chips over the folded dough, and then fold left over right.
- Using a bench knife, scrape under the dough while turning it to form a taught dough ball with the seams underneath.
- Transfer the dough to a panettone dough mold. Mine was 4 1/2“ inches deep by 7 ½” inches wide. Cover and sit at room temperature for 12-15 hours or in a cold oven with the door cracked and the oven light on for 8 to 10 hours or until the outside of the dough is ½” from the edge of the panettone mold and the dome of the dough is at least 1” above the mold.
- Remove the cover from the panettone and let it sit at room temperature before scoring a T into the top of the dough, going no deeper than ¼” inch.
- Top off with 1 teaspoon of softened unsalted butter and bake in the oven at 350° convection fan on for 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough is a dark brown and reaches 195° in the center of the bread.
- Using extra-long skewers, place two of them completely through the bread 1” inch from the bottom and 3” to 4” apart from one another.
- Hang the bread upside down for 2 to 3 hours to cool to room temperature.
- Flip the bread over, slice and serve.