American-Style Panettone

Ah, panettone! That ubiquitous (at Christmas) sweet bread of Milan, golden, high-rising, studded with citron and citrus peel - yuck! If that's your reaction, it's probably because a) you haven't had a good panettone, made the traditional way with a starter, or b) you just don't like citron and candied peel. If this reaction (and its possible causes) is yours, read on. We often use a biga (overnight starter) when making ciabatta or other Italian loaves; we feel it helps bring out the wheat flavor in breads that might otherwise seem a bit plain. But in a sweet bread, loaded with sugar, butter and fruit - who needs a biga?

Well, as it turns out, panettone made with a biga has a moist, fine texture, and rises better than anything with that amount of sugar and fat has a right to. Though the dough still needs a big kick of instant yeast, the biga gives it the strength to take off and rise, despite the sugar and fat doing their best to retard the whole process.

And as for the fruit: our version uses our favorite combination of dried fruits: no citron, no peel. And, instead of the traditional tall, round loaf pan, which often results in a raw center and burned crust, we suggest the use of a tube or monkey bread pan, such as we use here.

20 mins
25 to 40 mins
15 hrs 55 mins
1 round ring, or 10 mini panettones
American-Style Panettone


  1. Biga: Combine the flour, water and yeast, kneading briefly to make a stiff dough; if you're using a bread machine, allow the dough to knead for 5 minutes, then cancel the machine.

  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rise overnight, about 12 hours. It'll become bubbly.

  3. Dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in the pan of your bread machine), combine all of the ingredients except the dried fruit. Note: This dough is very difficult to make by hand; we suggest the use of a machine of some sort.

  4. Knead the dough till it's cohesive; it'll seem very gummy at first, but should come together nicely at the end. Don't worry if it doesn't form a smooth ball; it's OK if it sticks to the sides of the bowl a bit.

  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for an hour. It won't rise much; that's OK.

  6. Knead the fruit into the dough, by hand or machine; knead only until the dough accepts the fruit, as over handling will cause the fruit to release too much sugar into the dough, slowing the rise.

  7. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes, then shape it into a round ball.

  8. Poke a hole in the center of the ball.

  9. Slip the dough over the ring of a lightly greased 9" to 10" tube pan or monkey bread pan.

  10. Cover the pan, and set the dough aside to rise for 2 hours or so. It probably won't double in size, but will puff up a bit; don't worry, this bread's oven spring is quite good.

  11. Bake the panettone in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 40 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil for the final 15 minutes of baking if it appears to be browning too quickly. There's a wide time-range here due to the difference in center diameters of monkey bread and tube pans; the smaller the diameter, the longer the bread will bake. The internal temperature of the dough should register 190°F to 205°F when it's done, so use an instant-read thermometer to check. If you don't have a thermometer, poke a cake tester into the center; it should come out dry, without any crumbs or wet dough clinging to it.

  12. Remove the panettone from the oven, and after about 5 minutes turn it out of the pan. Brush with melted butter, if desired, for a soft, buttery crust. Cool on a rack.

  13. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just before serving, if desired.

Tips from our Bakers

  • We like to fill panettone with our Fruitcake Fruit Blend, a mix of apricots, raisins, pineapple, dates, and cranberries, which we feel is more "user friendly" than the traditional dried citron and candied peel. For a tropical twist, try our Tropical Fruit Blend: dried pineapple, papaya, and mango, mixed with big flakes of lightly toasted coconut.
  • To make small, gift-sized panettone, divide the dough into 4-ounce pieces, round into balls, and place in 10 lightly greased mini panettone paper pans. Allow to rise as directed at left, and bake for about 20 minutes, tenting with foil after 15 minutes.
  • Citrus-vanilla Fiori di Sicila ("Flowers of Sicily") is the traditional flavoring for panettone. Substitute lemon oil or about 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind, if desired.
  • SAF Gold instant yeast, formulated for sweet doughs, is a good selection here. If you use regular instant yeast, you may need to increase the rising times a bit.