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
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup grappa or brandy
  • 5 Tbs 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 one Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Grated zest of medium orange
  • 1 Grated zest of medium lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied citron


  1. To make the sponge: dissolve the package of dry yeast in the ½ cup warm water in a medium size bowl. Stir in the ¼ cup 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, vanilla, sugar, and orange zest together.
  4. Dissolve the 1 teaspoon active dry yeast in the ¼ cup warm water in a small bowl and allow to stand until bubbly.
  5. In a stand mixer combine all the sponge and the 1 teaspoon active dry yeast mixture.
  6. Add the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract and combine well. Add the raisins with their liquid and the citron and combine. Add the flour about 2 cups at a time, mixing enough flour until a ball of dough forms. Stir in the salt with the third addition of flour.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Butter a paper panettone mold or other deep mold at least 6 inches tall and 7 to 8 inches wide.
  10. After the dough has risen, punch it down and allow it to rise again until double in size. Punch it down again and place it in the buttered mold, cover with a clean cloth, and let rise for 35 minutes in a warm place.
  11. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  12. Cut an X in the top of the bread. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes lor 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.
  13. Cool the bread on a rack for about 30 minutes before removing it from the mold.
  14. 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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