Panettone; Milan's Christmas Bread

It is not Christmas in Italy without panettone. Many commercial varieties are available and they are very good but nothing beats homemade and this bread takes a bit of time but on Christmas morning it is the first thing we open!


  • Sponge:
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm (110 F) water
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup grappa or brandy
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm (110º to 115ºF) water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 Grated zest ofmedium orange
  • 1 Grated zest ofmedium lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied citron


  1. To make the sponge: dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a medium size bowl. Stir in the flour with a spoon to make a loose dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
  2.  In a small bowl, combine the raisins and grappa or brandy, and let marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  3.  In a large bowl, stir the butter, eggs, yolks, sugar, warm water and vanilla together. Drain the marinated raisins in a small strainer set over a bowl and press on the raisins with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Set the raisins aside and add the liquid to the egg mixture. Add the sponge and mix well with your hands. Add the flour about 2 cups at a time, mixing with your hands until a ball of dough forms.
  4.  Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as needed.
  5.  Butter a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for 6 hours in a warm place.
  6.  Butter and flour a paper panettone or other deep mold at least 6 inches tall and 7 to 8 inches wide. (The ceramic insert to a crockpot is ideal. Or you can use two 2-pound coffee cans and make 2 smaller loaves. Paper panettone molds are available on line and at
  7. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Flatten the dough out with your hands and sprinkle on the lemon and orange zest. In a small bowl, mix the raisins and citron with the 1 tablespoon flour, and sprinkle the mixture over the dough. Fold the dough in half, press the edges together, and knead to distribute the fruits. Continue to knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth, adding additional flour if necessary. Place the dough in the mold, cover with a clean cloth, and let rise for 35 minutes in a warm place.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut an X in the top of the bread. Bake for 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 375ºF, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350ºF, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes longer, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. If the top begins to brown too much, cover the bread loosely with a piece of foil.
  9. Cool the bread on a rack for about 30 minutes before removing it from the mold.
  10. Note: There are many versions of panettone. Some use Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine, instead of grappa. Some are made with olive oil instead of butter, and some include pine nuts and anise seed instead of raisins and citron. Some are filled with figs, chestnuts and even chocolate.
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I’ve tried making your panettone recipe two years in a row and I can’t get it to rise correctly. Do you have any suggestions for what I may be doing wrong?

Linda Connolly

It’s possible your yeast is old. Also you may have shortened the kneading time.


Around Christmas time I watch an episode, she used Panettone and also made a heavy cream like sauce to put on top. Does anyone know what this sauce is called?

Connie Gafkowski

My mother used to make a sweet bread which she called panettone. It wasn’t spongy, she used 12 eggs and it had only one rise, usually overnight. Has anyone a recipe similar to this?

mary ann esposito

Stephanie, not sure what to tell you; maybe place the dough in a little warmer area.


Try the bread sliced and made into French toast. Eggs,milk or light cream, grated orange zest. Cook pin pan with butter. Outrageous


Would it be possible to knead the dough in a stand mixer with a dough hook for the 5-10 minutes?


Would it be possible to knead the dough in a stand mixer with a dough hook for the 5-10 minutes?


Dana, yes, you can use the stand mixer until it is smooth.

Mrs. Roberta M. OConnell

Hi Mary Ann,
I’ve been watching you for years. I buy the ready made panettone and have never had a fresh one. I want to make yours, but need to make it sugar free and use a low carb flour. Any suggestions before I start experimenting? I’m diabetic. Thank you.

Christine Capone-Gizzi

Connie, we make Easter bread with 12 eggs

Carmel Barnao

What is the weight of the package of yeast please?
Or the measurement in teaspoons.

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