Jan 1, 2013

PANDORO - Golden Italian Sweet Bread

This bread reminds me of snow globes, those glass balls with snow inside, that you turn upside-down and make them come alive. Pandoro is an italian sweet bread, with a flavor unlike any other.
The bread is wrapped inside a clear bag, tied, and a packet of powdered sugar, usually vanilla flavored, is attached to it. When you´re ready to eat it, you empty the packet inside, close the bag, give it a few shakes and out comes a white bread, completely covered in the sugar. 
It´s magical and festive. Let´s hope 2013 turns up that way too.

Before you say anything, I know it´s upside down. The smaller part should be the top, but I serve it the other way around, because it usually doesn´t stand straight otherwise, and I don´t want a falling pandoro.

This bread is part of the Twelve Loaves baking group. The theme this month is a clean slate to start the year. Way too many options for a baking fanatic like myself, but then, I had wanted to make Pandoro in december, and since that obviously didn´t happen, this was the perfect occasion. Read below for details about this group. 

This is another egg and butter bread, like brioche or pulla. But the texture and flavor are completely different. Interesting how similar ingredients can deliver such different results. It´s a very simple sweet plain bread.

This recipe is the only one I ever made, and I don't think I ever want to find another one. It consists of a yeast starter and two more steps until the dough is resting, but it gets done in less than a day, with a small amount of hand-on time, as it usually happens with yeast breads. 
A standing mixer is highly recommended; though it can be made by hand, well, it will be somewhat messy and you'll end up hating me. And I want us to keep on being friends. 

As it usually happens, most yeast bread fanatics own a stand mixer, like myself, who got it as a wedding anniversary more than ten years ago. Seeing how my (ex) husband was very into giving me jewelry for important occasions, I had a serious talk with him and made sure he understood that, for me, things like a kitchen aid were far more life altering than any ring.
Back to this sweet bread, you can add some chopped candied lemon, but I think the beauty of it resides in it's clean, unassuming appearance, and the extraordinary flavor that you discover when you take a bite. The crumb is tender, so tender it almost melts in your mouth. And the mix of vanilla extract and lemon zest, a small amount of each, gives it an undefined flavor. Like the flavor of these alfajores.

The recipe use cake flour and bread flour together. This mix of flours works so well with these type of doughs I highly recommend you don't change that. The first time I made this, was with cake flour only. I took the breads to a friend´s house on new year's eve. They own a few bakeries, a family business started by my friend's grandfather who was an Italian immigrant. His father was there, who has been a bread baker all his life, and he immediately said it was missing some texture. So the recipe was right about using both flours.

from The Italian Baker, by Carol Field


For the sponge
4 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
1 egg
2 Tbs sugar
¾ cup (100g) all purpose or bread flour

For the first dough
3 cups + 3 Tbs (380g) pastry or cake flour
3 ¼ cups (435g) all purpose or bread flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 Tbs warm water
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ stick (55g) unsalted butter, room tº

For the second dough
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup (200g) sugar
Reserved mixed flours
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon or 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
2 ½ sticks (285g) unsalted butter, at room tº

4 Tbs + ½ cup all purpose flour for kneading, if necessary

Confectioners´ sugar, to serve

Clear cellophane bags


For the sponge
In the bowl of the electric mixer, stir the yeast into the water and let stand 5 minutes, until foamy. Add egg, sugar and flour and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Let stand, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled, about 30 minutes.

For the first dough
Mix the two flours together. Measure 2 ½ cups of this mix that will be used for the first dough, and reserve remaining for second dough.
In a small bowl stir the water with the yeast and let rest 5 minutes, until foamy.
Add yeast mixture, sugar, eggs and flour to the sponge. Mix with the paddle attachment until well combined. Add the soft butter and beat until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest until doubled, about 45 minutes.

For the second dough
Add eggs, yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest to the first dough and beat well with the paddle attachment. Gradually add the softened butter and mix until well incorporated. Add reserved flour and salt in ½ cup additions. Change to the dough hook and knead 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should be soft, buttery and delicate. It should not clean the sides of the bowl completely, but add up to ½ cup more flour if the dough is still too wet.
Place the dough in a buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place until doubled in volume, anywhere between 2 to 4 hours.
Sprinkle the top of the dough with the 4 Tbs flour. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and, with floured hands, cut the dough in half with a dough scraper or a knife.
Shape each half into a loose ball and place in well buttered or sprayed star-shaped pandoro molds. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, between 2 ½ to 4 hours.
Preheat oven 30 minutes before baking to 350º F /180ºC.
Bake breads for 30 minutes. Reduce oven tº to 300ºF/150ºC and continue baking for another 30 minutes. If the top is too brown cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Let cool on wire rack and unmold.
Dust with confectioners´ sugar and shake inside the bag before serving.

Here is what the rest of the group made to kick-start the year:

Alabama Light Bread by Dorothy | Shockingly Delicious
Basic White Bread by Renee | Magnolia Days
Classic Oatmeal Bread by Liz | That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Grandmom’s Dinner Rolls by Jennie from The Messy Baker Blog
Italian Potato Bread by Rosella | Ma Che Ti Sei Mangiato
Orange, Date and Nut Loaf by Katerina / Diethood
Rosemary Olive Oil Bread by Alice | Hip Foodie Mom
Whole Wheat Pita Bread by Holly | A Baker's House
Whole Wheat Sea Salt Bagel by Lora | Cake Duchess
English Muffin Bread by Karen / Karen´s Kitchen Stories
#TwelveLoaves January: Clean Slate. Bake a bread, yeast or quick bread, loaf or individual.
January #TwelveLoaves is all about a clean slate. After the holiday indulgences, we are starting the year with simplicity. Share with us your favorite basic bread recipes. Let’s get baking!

Just follow the rules, it’s as easy as pie:
1. When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post; this helps us to get more members as well as share everyone’s posts. Please make sure that your Bread is inspired by the theme!
2. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of my blog. It must be a bread baked to the Twelve Loaves theme.
3. Have your Twelve Loaves bread that you baked this January, 2013 posted on your blog by January  31, 2013.

Would you like to bake along with us? The #TwelveLoaves bread baking project was created by Lora at Cake Duchess; a monthly baking adventure created for the love of bread. Drop Lora a line to join in on this monthly bread baking fun!

Follow @TwelveLoaves on Twitter
See what’s freshly baked for #TwelveLoaves on our growing Pinterest board. 


  1. This is a gorgeous bread, and you have inspired me to try it!

  2. Wow Paula! What a beautiful bread. And what fun to shake the powdered sugar on it in the bag. The shape is nice too. Now I'm going to have to add those pans to my kitchen wish list.

  3. What a phenomenal bread, and fun too! I've never heard of Pandoro so I feel like I learned something today.

  4. Right side up or upside down, it's a stunning loaf, Paula! Love your pans...such a wonderful shape!!!

  5. I love the idea of presenting this bread in a bag and shaking it with the powdered sugar-- what fun! I will save your idea for Christmas gifts for friends and neighbors next year.

  6. Paula, this is simply gorgeous! I am definitely adding this to my to try list. I love the end results with the bag and the powdered sugar and right about now I am wishing I lived closer so I could enjoy a slice with you. Happy New Year my sweet friend!

  7. This bread not only sounds delicious but it looks so dainty (is that a funny word to use to describe bread?) and beautiful.

  8. looks delicious and i love the shape - so beautiful!

  9. Paula, I simply LOVE the first paragraph and how you described this bread! Wow, it IS magical .. love that that is powdered sugar and in a bag! How wonderful is that? I must try this!

    and by the way, I am the same way with jewelry (or at least I am now). . my husband got me bakeware for Christmas and I loved it! Give me an appliance or a kitchen gadget and I am a happy person! :)

  10. Absolutely gorgeous.... I am so trying to make one just like it....hahaha I could never bake something this pretty!

  11. I like the look of the bread and espacially I like the name.. :)

    Happy New Year!

  12. Beautiful - pandoro is on my wish list; I am going to have to give this one a try.

  13. Paula, your bread is beautiful, and you have two Pandoro pans? My kitchen equipment hoarding gene is jealous. Pandoro is totally on my wish list and I too meant to do it in December. Must try. Must try.

    1. I have a habit of buying in twos, always have. Many bread and cake recipes are for two, so they come in handy!

  14. Despite it's upside down, it looks really great.
    It's on my wish list as well. Alas home temperature is usually too low. Here in Rome weather is more wonderful than heating systems :)

  15. Wow! I never thought to make pandoro at home, I'm from Italy and I was used just to buy it... I didn't spend this winter at home so i missed it so much! Did you also make the mascarpone cream to eat with?
    It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  16. I will have to try this as it reminds me of panettone which I love. It is so fun to make simple breads and so cool how it is covered in powdered sugar. Totally agree that some bread doughs just need to be made with a stand mixer.

  17. Paula, happy new year. I am playing catch-up - you are certainly busy right now! the plum yoghurt cake looks pretty - our plums will be ready soon so you have inspired me. and the cheese and ham french toast looks decadent - just right for this time of the year.
    let's hope 2013 is full of deliciousness - you are off to a lovely start with this interesting italian bread.

  18. This bread looks so pretty and lovely for winter. I like the shape of it, too.

  19. I have just discovered your blog via The Little Loaf and am glad that I have! I am looking forward to browsing more through past posts and expect I will become a regular reader. This bread looks and sounds delicious and I love the 'snow globe' element. Have you ever made it in a regular cake pan? I just can't justify buying any more pans, mainly due to storage issues! Panettone can be made in a regular tin, so I am guessing this would work too (?).

    1. Hi Amy, so nice to meet you! Do you have brioche molds? I never used them for this bread, but I don´t see why they won´t work. The next best thing would be a rather tall and slim mold. Do tell me how it went if you make it!

  20. that is the coolest bread shape ever! and it looks super soft too :D

  21. Really beautiful! We ate Pandoro every year at the holidays when we lived in Italy and it was a hard habit to break once we moved back to France. I have never dared to actually try making it myself but yours is so perfect I should really try! Happy New Year!

  22. Step one: I am going on Amazon.com right now to buy a pandoro mold. Step two: I am going to make this even though the holiday has passed. I love pandoro and have never even thought to look for a recipe. I may not be italian but, like John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda, "Sono Italiano in spirito

    1. I made after a few years of not making it, and it blew my mind again like the first time. It´s probably my favorite sweet bread. So good.

  23. The mold is purchased and will arrive by the 15th! I know what I am doing next weekend! ~ David

    1. You won´t be dissapointed. Right now, I have leftover pandoro croutons in the oven, drying. I don´t know what I´ll make with them, maybe a brown betty or bread pudding.


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