Committing to making this sweet, yeasted Italian holiday bread is truly a labor of love. To make the process more manageable, this recipe utilizes an overnight rise so you’re not spending an entire day in the kitchen. To start, make a sponge (or starter) with yeast, water, and flour and let it rise. Then, to make the dough, mix the sponge with lots of butter and eggs, plus a few more ingredients. Refrigerate it overnight to slowly rise, divide it into 2 loaves, and fill them with candied fruit and raisins. Bake in the classic paper molds until the loaves have a beautiful golden brown crust and a moist, rich interior. Serve a slice topped with a dollop of Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream.
What to buy: You’ll need 2 (6-inch) panettone molds for this recipe. You can find them in well-stocked kitchenware stores or online.
For best results, make sure to buy quality candied zest, not artificially dyed candied fruit. You can find candied zest in the dried fruit section at most well-stocked grocery stores, especially around the holidays.
- 1Place the water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the yeast over top. Set aside until the mixture bubbles, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
For the first dough:
- 1Place the water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside until the mixture bubbles, about 10 minutes.
- 2Add the sponge, eggs, flour, and sugar and mix on low speed until the dough just starts to come together and looks shaggy, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium, add the butter 1 piece at a time—letting each piece incorporate before adding the next—and mix until the dough forms a sticky ball on the paddle, about 4 minutes total.
- 3Stop the mixer, scrape down the paddle with a rubber spatula, and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Wash and dry the paddle attachment and fit it back onto the mixer.
For the second dough:
- 1Fit the bowl with the first dough onto the stand mixer. Add the eggs, yolks, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt and mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high, add the butter pieces, and mix until smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- 2Decrease the speed to low, gradually add the flour, and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and, using a rubber spatula or rubber bowl scraper, scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Remove the paddle attachment and attach the dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes. (The dough will be very soft.) Coat a large bowl with a thin layer of vegetable oil and scrape the dough into it. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
- 1Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer it to a work surface. Using a sharp knife or pastry scraper, divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form each into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the molds and filling.
- 2Generously coat 2 (6-by-4-inch) panettone molds with butter. Place the molds on a baking sheet and set them aside.
- 3Place the raisins in a medium bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak for 30 minutes. Drain the raisins, wipe the bowl dry, pat the raisins dry, and return them to the bowl. Add the candied zest, lemon zest, orange zest, and 3 tablespoons of the flour and toss to evenly coat; set aside.
- 4When the dough balls are ready, place the remaining 3/4 cup of flour in a small bowl to use while finishing and shaping the dough (you may not use all of the flour). Generously dust the work surface with flour, place the dough balls on it, and dust the tops with more flour.
- 5Using floured hands, pat each ball into an oval measuring 13 1/2 by 12 inches (about 1/4 inch thick), flouring the dough as needed. Evenly sprinkle a quarter of the fruit mixture over each oval and gently press it into the dough. Starting at a shorter end, roll each oval into a log.
- 6Using floured hands and flouring the dough as needed, pat each log into an oval measuring 16 by 7 inches (about 1/2 inch thick). Divide the remaining fruit mixture in half. Evenly sprinkle half over 1 oval and the remaining half over the other oval and gently press the fruit into the dough. Starting at a shorter end, roll each oval into a log and arrange them seam-side down.
- 7Tuck the ends of each log under itself and shape each into a ball, pushing any fruit pieces back in that fall out. Using a sharp knife or razor blade, cut a shallow 4-inch “X” into the top of each ball and place them in the prepared molds.
- 8Cover the molds with plastic wrap and let the panettone rise on the baking sheet in a warm place until increased in size by half, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the bottom third.
- 9Using the sharp knife or razor blade, retrace the “X” in each loaf. Cut the tablespoon of butter in half and tuck 1 portion into the center of each “X.”
- 10Place the baking sheet with the panettone in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 10 minutes more. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake until the tops of the panettone are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes more. Meanwhile, twist 2 clean, dry kitchen towels into ropes and arrange them in a small circle. Repeat with 2 more towels.
- 11Remove each panettone from the oven and arrange it on its side cradled in a towel circle. (If you cool the panettone upright, they’ll collapse.) Let them cool completely before slicing, at least 1 1/2 hours. Remove the panettone from the molds, slice with a serrated knife, and serve.