Panettone at Home - Baking The Famous Italian Christmas Cake

Panettone at Home - Baking The Famous Italian Christmas Cake

Alessandro Clemente

The actual translation of the evergreen Italian scrumptious cake, panettone, is ‘big loaf’. Rightly called so for its dome shape and large size, panettone is a staple Christmas treat of Italy that comes from the northern Italian city of Milan. The soft, warm slices of this popular Italian Christmas cake are best enjoyed when slathered in generous amounts of salty butter. 

In Italy, Christmas is somewhat incomplete without the richness, softness, and buttery taste of Nonna’s light, airy, and not-so-sweet panettone. But, you don’t have to make it the Italian grandmother’s way. We have a simple homemade panettone cake recipe for you that is straight-forward and practical. 

As good as it sounds, this delicious cake isn’t too backbreaking to bake. Skipping all the age-old rising and kneading, this beauty can simply be baked at home with a few ingredients, some whisking, mixing, and baking.

Follow the recipe mentioned below to make the classic panettone cake that tastes, feels, and looks like a savory-sweet delight. Also included is the recipe for a pistachio panettone cake.

Wear your favorite apron, and let’s get started!

Recipe: Classic Panettone Christmas Cake


Category 1: For the Dough

  • Fast action dry yeast - 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • Whole almonds - 1 ounce, blanched
  • Milk - 5 ounces, slightly warm
  • Extra milk - 3 tablespoons, for glazing
  • Unsalted butter - 9 ounces, bite-sized chunks 
  • Extra butter - 1 tablespoon, for greasing
  • Strong bread flour - 5 cups
  • Eggs - 6, free-range preferably
  • Fine sugar - 1/4 cup
  • Fine salt - 1 teaspoon 

Category 2: For the Fruit

  • Candied orange and lemon peel - 4 ounces, finely chopped
  • Mixed dried fruits - currants, dried cherries, cranberries, raisins - 10 ounces
  • Quartered cherries - 2 ounces, glazed or candied
  • Cointreau or fruit juice or your favorite liqueur* - 6 tablespoons 

Steps to Make Classic Panettone Cake

This recipe might seem lengthy, but we have divided the process into workable categories to ease planning and cooking for beginners.

Preparing the Fruit - Needs Soaking Overnight

  1. Gather the dry ingredients (first 3) of category 2 in a large bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour over your favorite liqueur (we recommend Bailey’s) or Cointreau. Mix well.
  4. Cover this mixture and store in a cool place (not in the refrigerator)
  5. Let soak overnight.

Preparing the Dough

  1. To make the yeast mixture, take a heatproof bowl or jug. Then take 5 ounces of warmed milk and sprinkle the dried yeast over. Add sugar and stir well. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. To knead with a dough hook, tip the flour into the stand mixer bowl. Pour in the frothy yeast mixture into one side of the bowl, and sprinkle the salt on the other side. As the salt will kill the yeast, make sure it doesn’t come into direct contact with yeast, dried or fresh. This will harden the bread and make it heavy.
  3. To combine the ingredients properly, start by mixing on a slow speed. After 3 minutes, turn the mixer to medium speed and add 5 eggs. Keep mixing until the dough becomes sticky and smooths out.
  4. Then, increase the speed to high and add bite-sized chunks of softened butter one by one. 
  5. Keep mixing until you have used up all the butter and continue to run the mixer for at least 7 more minutes.
  6. The dough will become even smoother and softer and turn glossy. The dough might appear too difficult to handle, but that only means you’re in the right direction. Your aim is to preserve the air in the dough, so don’t worry about the texture.
  7. Now use the remaining butter to grease a large baking bowl.
  8. Now hold this greased bowl under the stand mixer bowl, and slide the mixed dough slowly into the greased bowl. Don’t try to force it out as the dough will move itself by its weight. If you try to force it out, the dough will lose its air.
  9. Using a soft spatula, scrape down any leftover dough. Use a plastic wrap or tight lid to cover the bowl - store overnight in the fridge. 
  10. The dough will expand and have air bubbles the next day, bursting out from the bowl. 

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Making the Panettone Christmas Cake

  1. Start by spreading generous amounts of flour on a work surface. Spread the dough out with your fingertips after carefully tipping it out of the bowl. The air will keep whooshing out and rising again. Avoid being too heavy-handed while managing the dough.
  2. Through a fine sieve, strain the soaked fruits discarding the liquid.
  3. Onto the spread out dough, place half of the fruit mixture.
  4. Now fold the dough over the fruits. Aim to spread the mixture evenly throughout the dough by lightly rolling it around.
  5. Then, spread the dough again and repeat the same steps with the remaining mixture of fruits. Although the dough will have lumps, you need to make sure that fruits are not huddled together in any area. Roll around one more time if they are.
  6. Roll the dough into a shapeless ball.
  7. Line the base and sides of a normal cake tin with greaseproof paper, which stands above the rim by at least 2 inches.
  8. Into the center of the tin, drop the dough, and tuck the almonds into the surface. Cover with a tea cloth but not tightly. 
  9. For 2 to 3 hours, store the cake in a warm place until the dough rises above the rim of the tin once more. It could also take up to 4 hours. 

Baking the Panettone

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Meanwhile, to brush over the surface of the cake, mix 3 tablespoons of milk with the remaining egg. Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 25 minutes. 
  2. Lowering heat to 300 F, cook for 35 more minutes. 
  3. Like any other cake, panettone is ready when a skewer comes out non-sticky and clean.
  4. Let the cake cool for 5. Then, leave to cool completely.
  5. Serve and set a Christmassy vibe!

Check out this Pistachio-twist recipe of panettone cake if you’re a fan of these super nuts!

Secret Tips

  • For a chocolate twist to your classic Panettone cake, add melted chocolate or store-bought instant chocolate cake mix to the dough. The kids will love it!
  • I use a tiny bit of Bailey’s. Highly recommended! 

Where to buy panettone cake?

You can buy Granducale panettone cake online in our store; it tastes as good as homemade. We have many flavors like pistachio, pumpkin, chocolate, almonds, and chocolate chips. The box packaging makes them excellent festive gifts for friends and family. 

Why buy panettone Christmas cake online?

Buy panettone cake for Christmas in our store to save money and trips to the supermarkets. You don’t have to wait in long queues either as we accept different modes of payments and deliver to your doorstep. Shop while the sale lasts and enjoy huge discounts on panettone Christmas cakes online.

Have a cakelicious Christmas!

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