Similar to panettone in its sweet yeastiness, pandoro (“golden cake”) is also known as a Christmastime treat. With its long preparation time, special star-shaped mold, and tall stature, it is a bit of a challenge to make at home, but worth the effort. Traditionally, pandoro is flavored with lemon zest or citron, but here we used orange zest.
Special equipment: Star-shaped pandoro molds can be found at specialty kitchen stores or online.
Game plan: Some ovens come with a “proof” setting; if yours does, set it to 90°F. A consistently warm environment will help the dough rise more quickly.
For the starter:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 110°F)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 large egg yolk
For the cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature and cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon orange zest
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream
- Toasted, slivered almonds
- Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk gently to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
For the cake:
- Coat a large bowl with butter; set aside.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the starter and, using the hook attachment on a stand mixer, mix on low until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 3 of the egg yolks, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is sticky and stringy, about 3 to 5 minutes more.
- Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Clean the mixer bowl.
- Gently place risen dough in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining 3 egg yolks, the whole egg, salt, vanilla, and zest. Turn the mixer to low and, using the hook attachment, knead until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add remaining half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 pieces at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is sticky and stringy, about 5 to 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, coat a large bowl with butter. Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Thoroughly coat a 9-cup pandoro mold with 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter using a pastry brush. Sift flour into the mold to evenly coat, then tap out the excess (make sure to get all of the corners to prevent any sticking).
- Remove the risen dough from the bowl and transfer to the prepared mold (the dough should fill the pan about halfway). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot until the dough is about a 1/2 inch from the top of the pan, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the lower third.
- Bake the pandoro for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F and bake until the pandoro is dark golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes more.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 1 hour.
- When the cake has cooled completely, turn it upside down and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve with Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream and toasted almonds.