Cuisine Fiend




There is no British Christmas bread! I swear, it makes me feel really embarrassed that we only have the sickly gloop of the Christmas cake or even more sickly concoction of brandy and prunes that gets steamed, of all cooking methods, and called Christmas pudding.

I’m really not sure how that has come about - the lack of something tasty that you can toast and butter on Christmas morning. Everyone else has a julekake or a Stollen, a babka or a pulla, or at least marzipan or cinnamon rolls. And it’s definitely not right that Italians should have two to choose from!

Panettone and pandoro: fighting for primacy in Italian families, dividing the raisin-chasers and the candied peel-haters. ‘Boring!’ say the former, or even: ‘noioso!’. How can you have such a vast expanse of cake without anything interesting in it? Make bread and butter pudding of it already and make sure you throw in sultanas!

Ah, but orange peel is vile, say the latter. Non mi piace! Wrong flavour! And all those raisins, totally unnecessary. Give me a plain honest slice of cake, but so fluffy, rich and buttery that I won’t need any embellishments!

Pandoro baked in a straight tin

Come on, Italians - just have both. I’m having both this year, although my pandoro is baked in a panettone tin - and my recipe is a somewhat hacked version of an Italian one, by Giallo Zafferano. It tastes so good though, I might lean towards the orange peel objectors…



  • For the starter:
  • 15g fresh or 5g instant yeast
  • 60ml warm milk
  • 1 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50g Manitoba flour (or strong bread flour)
  • For the sponge:
  • 3 tbsp. warm milk
  • 3g fresh or a pinch of instant yeast
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g Manitoba flour (or strong bread flour)
  • 30g butter, softened
  • For the main dough:
  • 200g Manitoba flour (or strong bread flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • For the final dough:
  • 140g butter, softened


The dough is made over a couple of hours on the evening of day 1 and the morning of day 2.

To make the starter, dissolve the yeast in the milk, add the sugar, the yolk and stir it all together. Place the flour in a small bowl and mix in the liquid. Cover with cling film and leave to double in volume, for about an hour in a warm place.


For the sponge, dissolve the 3g of yeast in the milk and add to the starter. Follow by the egg and the sugar, and then add the flour, beating the dough with a wooden spoon or using a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. When it’s smooth, add the butter and mix in to incorporate. Cover and leave for an hour again in a warm place.

Main dough

When it’s doubled in volume, add the other 200g of flour, the eggs, the sugar, salt and vanilla seeds. Knead by hand or mix with an electric or a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment until the dough is smooth, elastic and clears the sides of the bowl - this might take a long while even in a standing mixer. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Final dough for pandoroIn the morning grease a pandoro (or panettone) tin with butter. Turn the dough out onto a work surface or place it in a standing mixer and add the softened butter. Knead or mix until all the butter is incorporated, the dough is silky, stretchy and not sticky.  Transfer it to the tin and place in a warm place to triple in volume, for about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3. When the pandoro has almost risen up to the rim of the tin, bake it in the lower part of the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 160C/320F and bake for 45-50 minutes until it’s deep golden brown on top.

Pandoro before icingRemove it from the oven and turn it upside down onto a wire rack - it will hang in the tin for a couple of minutes if you’re lucky, that should eliminate the potential sinkage. Remove the tin and dust the pandoro with icing sugar when it’s cool.

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