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Sourdough Panettone

Half of the sourodugh panettone on a wooden chopping board wit ha pine cone in the foreground.
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Sourdough Panettone is one of my favourite Christmas treats! A rich buttery Italian bread, generously studded with dried fruit and mixed peel can easily be mistaken for cake! Using an active sourdough starter in this recipe, it does take a bit of patience to make, but the result is oh-so-good!

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Challenge of the Sourdough Panettone

I am not going to sugarcoat it, Sourdough Panettone will require a degree of patience, a good chunk of your time and just a little bit of skill (or reading the recipe twice and following it to a T). Even made with commercial yeast, Panettone is a bit of a labour of love, but if you love baking, you will love making this sourdough version of an amazing Italian Christmas Bread.

3 Tips to Ensure Success

  • Make sure your starter is active! Really, very and truly active! I feed my starter for 3 consecutive days before starting this recipe just to make sure I have yeast and bacteria cultures strong enough to carry this enriched dough through.
  • You do need a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (we love Kenwood). And you have to be patient: run your stand mixer for as long as the recipe states, it will help this rich dough rise and you will get a fluffy and airy crumb.
  • You will need to find a warm spot in your house (around 25°C) to prove the dough. It is a heavily enriched dough that needs both time and warmth to rise.
Sourodugh Panettone cut in half on a wooden round chopping board.

Panettone Moulds

To make a panettone, you will need a mould. Whilst you can make it in the round cake tin, you will need to line it fully with sturdy baking parchment, so that it can rise, but the panettone will stick to it, and it may be difficult to peel the parchment off of it when baked. You can also buy non-stick Panettone tins (like this one here), I have to admit that I never used one before, so I cannot recommend it. What I use, is paper moulds, here (they are 500ml each). They are sturdy and brilliant for piercing with skewers that are then used to hang the panettones upside down to stabilise the crumb.

How to Make a 40% Hydration Starter?

This recipe uses a 40% hydration sourdough starter.

Mix 20g starter (100% hydration) with 25ml of water and 40g flour. This will make 85g of stiff sourdough starter, and you will only need 70g for this recipe, but it’s always best to make some more to allow for all the starter that will stick to the sides of the bowl and the spoon. 

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make Sourdough Panettone?

Day 1: Starter and First Dough

Late in the morning or early afternoon, prepare stiff sourdough levain. (40% hydration). See notes above if unsure how to make it. Leave the levain to at least double in size, which will take 4-6 hours.

Once the starter is active and doubled, mix water and sugar in a bowl of your stand mixer. Add stiff levain and flour and get your stand mixer (we use and love Kenwood) fitted with a dough hook attachment running on slow speed, for about 10 minutes.

Once incorporated, increase the speed. Start adding butter one bit at a time, and carry on kneading until completely incorporated, for about 10 minutes. Then one by one add the egg yolks and knead until well incorporated, again for another 10 minutes.

Scoop the dough into a bowl (ideally a narrow, high-rimmed dish) and leave it to triple in size, for 8-12 hours (overnight) at room temperature (ideally 22-25°C). Be patient and go by the volume more than the time, you really want the dough to give time to rise.

Mix all the ingredients for the honey mix and leave them in the fridge covered overnight to infuse with flavours.

Day 2: Second Dough and Baking

In the morning, mix strong flour and the first dough that should have tripled in size overnight. Knead well in a stand mixer for about 10 minutes.

Sticky sourdough panettone first dough.

Then add sugar, honey mix, salt and butter and keep on kneading until fully incorporated, for about 10 minutes. One by one start adding the egg yolks, mixing to fully incorporate the yolks into the dough before adding another one. Finally, reduce the speed to the minimum and mix in orange and lemon peel as well as raisins/ sultanas.

Insert 2 bamboo skewers (see photos above) into each panettone paper mould (we used 2x500ml moulds). You will use the skewers to hand the panettone upside down to stabilise after baking. Divide the dough into the prepared moulds and let it prove for 6-8 hours in a warm spot (around 25-27°C is ideal for a second proof).

It is important to note that it’s advisable to go by the size of the panettone. Proof it until it just about doubles in size, so if you are proofing at lower temperatures (20-22°C), it may take 18-24 hours in some instances for it to double in size. Just be patient with it – it will pay off!

Bake at 180°C Fan for 35-40 minutes depending on the size of the panettone. When baked, hang them upside down for about 12 hours to stabilize the crumb.

Recipe FAQs

My Panettone Top Breaks When I Invert It. Why?

This is likely due to the gluten in the dough not being developed enough. The reasons for this are twofold: not enough mixing/ kneading (after all, a stand mixer is not equal stand mixer), and too much acidity in your sourdough starter that can significantly slow down the gluten development. Make sure you have a starter that is low in acid and run your stand mixer for a few minutes longer next time! Or try extra strong flour with higher gluten-content.

Other Christmas Bakes and Cakes

For other Christmas baking ideas, have a look at some of our other favourites below:

Recipe Card

Half of the sourodugh panettone on a wooden chopping board wit ha pine cone in the foreground.

Sourdough Panettone

Sourdough Panettone is one of my favourite Christmas treats! A rich buttery Italian bread, generously studded with dried fruit and mixed peel can easily be mistaken for cake! Using an active sourdough starter in this recipe, it does take a bit of patience to make, but the result is oh-so-good!
4.95 from 19 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Fermenting, Proving, Resting: 2 d
Total Time 2 d 1 hr 30 mins
Course Baking, Dessert
Cuisine Christmas, Italian, Sourdough
Servings 2 panettones (500ml moulds)
Calories 2168 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

Honey Mix:

  • 30 g runny honey
  • 1 orange zest only
  • 1 lemon zest only

First Dough:

  • 70 g active 40% hydration starter see notes
  • 75 g sugar
  • 120 g water
  • 55 g egg yolks
  • 70 g butter very soft
  • 240 g strong flour

Second Dough:

  • 60 g strong flour
  • 65 g sugar
  • 4 g salt
  • 95 g egg yolks
  • 125 g butter very soft
  • 120 g sultanas
  • 90 g candied mixed peel

Instructions
 

Day 1:

  • Late in the morning or early afternoon, prepare stiff sourdough levain. (40% hydration). See notes if unsure how to make it. Leave the levain to at least double in size, which will take 5-7 hours.
  • Once the starter is active and bubbling, mix water and sugar in a bowl of your stand mixer. Add stiff levain and flour and get your mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment running on slow speed, for about 10 minutes.
  • Once incorporated, increase the speed. Start adding butter one bit at a time, and carry on kneading until completely incorporated, for about 10 minutes. Then one-by-one add the egg yolks knead until well incorporated, again for 10 minutes.
  • Scoop the dough into a bowl (ideally a narrow, high-rimmed dish) and leave it to triple in size, for 8-12 hours (overnight) at room temperature (ideally 22-25°C). Be patient and go by the volume more than the time, you really want the dough to give time to rise.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the honey mix and leave them in the fridge covered overnight.

Day 2:

  • In the morning, mix strong flour and the first dough that should have tripled in size overnight. Knead well in a stand mixer for about 10 minutes. Then add sugar, honey mix, salt and butter and keep on kneading until fully incorporated, for about 10 minutes. One by one start adding the egg yolks, mixing to fully incorporate the yolks into the dough before adding another one. Finally, reduce the speed to the mininmum and mix in orange and lemon peel as well as raisins.
  • Insert 2 bamboo skewers (see photos above) into each panettone paper mould (we used 2x500ml moulds). You will use the skewers to hand the panettone upside down to stabilise after baking. Divide the dough into the prepared moulds and let it prove for 10-12 hours in a warm spot (around 25-27°C is ideal for a second proof). It is important to note that it's advisable to go by the size of the panettone. Proof it until it just about doubles in size, so if you are proofing at lower temperatures (20-22°C), it may take 18-24 hours in some instances for it to double in size. Just be patient with it – it will pay off!

End Of Day 2 or Day 3:

  • Bake at 180°C for 35-42 minutes ( adjust cooking time based on the size of panettone. When cooked, a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. We baked ours for 40 minutes ((2x500ml moulds)). When baked, hang them upside down for about 12 hours to stabilize the crumb (see photos above).

Notes

Mix 20g starter (100% hydration) with 25ml of water and 40g flour. This will make 85g of stiff sourdough starter, and you will only need 70g for this recipe, but it’s always best to make some more to allow for all the starter that will stick to the sides of the bowl and the spoon. 

Nutrition

Calories: 2168kcalCarbohydrates: 293gProtein: 32gFat: 101gSaturated Fat: 58gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 29gTrans Fat: 3gCholesterol: 1023mgSodium: 1567mgPotassium: 765mgFiber: 8gSugar: 155gVitamin A: 3553IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 200mgIron: 10mg
Keyword Christmas Baking with Sourdough, Homemade Panettone, Italian Christmas Bread, Panettone with Sourdough, Sourdough Christmas Baking, Sourdough Panettone
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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45 Replies to “Sourdough Panettone”

  1. 5 stars
    When the panettone comes out in the stores you know it’s the holidays! I’ve always wanted to make my own though so I can’t wait to try your recipe.

    1. Oh yes, a clear sign of Christmas! 😀

  2. Just working my way through this recipe, looks great! However, one question. Day 2 step 1 says to mix the strong flour with the malt, but I can’t see a reference to malt in the ingredients. Am I missing something?

    1. Hi Iain. Thanks for spotting it! I was experimenting with adding malt but in the end decided it doesn’t add enough to the dough to justify another ingredient on the list. I will remove malt from instructions, apologies!

      1. Thanks very much. Very pleased with my first attempt. Delicious, although I’m sure I still have room for improvement!

        1. Thanks, Iain for giving my recipe a go! I have to admit, my first couple of attempts were a complete disaster: I just wasn’t patient enough to wait for the doughs to proof and I also made the first panettones in winter, so the temperature was likely not high enough to lift that heavily enriched dough :D.

  3. 5 stars
    This is such a great recipe for the holidays. I look forward to my girls helping me make it….fun tradition and memories each year!

  4. Amanda Wren-Grimwood says: Reply

    5 stars
    I have always wanted to make panettone but was always a bit intimidated. I made this to practise for Christmas and I am pleased to say it came out really well. Will be making it again for Christmas to impress my family!

    1. Amanda, that’s so nice to hear! We have just been trying out a recipe for a new marzipan-studded panettone here, at Somebody Feed Seb, and it just immediately puts us in a Christmas mood 🎄 (even if it’s still 2 months to go!).

  5. 5 stars
    The bread looks so moist and delicious. Also, it is a long but an easy to follow recipe. Loved it.

    1. Thanks, Savita! It’s definitely a long process, but I hope you find it’s worth it 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I made this for Christmas last year and it was perfect! Definitely making it again this year too!

    1. So glad you liked the recipe! We make it every year (sometimes even out of season :))

  7. 5 stars
    This process is definitely worth it!! My family loved it! Thanks for this easy to follow recipe!

    1. Thanks, Toni! Glad you and your family enjoyed it 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    This turned out really good!! Thank you so much for the recipe!

    1. You are welcome! Glad you liked it! 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    This is a must make at Christmas time and yours looks beautiful.

  10. Do you think this would be possible to do without a stand mixer? Ive made Brioche by hand before so confident in my kneading ability.

    1. Hi Wesley, I cannot say I was ever brave enough to try kneading it by hand. I personally think it’s far too sticky.

  11. Trying this recipe and so far, so good! I have a large family, so I am curious if you’ve ever made one large loaf out of this recipe. What size mold and what baking changes would be needed? I’m confident enough to wing it a bit but wanted to ask. 😁

    1. I am sorry to say I haven’t tried it in a bigger mold. Would be very interested to know your timings if you make one large loaf though 🙂

  12. Hi, Making this now, however the instructions around proving in the text of the article are different to the instructions in the recipe at the bottom. Which one is it best to follow?

    1. Hi Tom! It very much depends on the temperature of your kitchen. I always recommend going by size. Panettone triple in volume in uts first proof, and at least double in its second proof. If you are proofing at 20-21C, follow the instructions in the recipe card 🙂

  13. 5 stars
    That looks absolutely bloody gorgeous! And I am so pleased the instructions are straightforward.

  14. Hi! I’m excited to make this as a surprise for my sister, who adores panettone and begged me to make her some for Christmas (I demurred). My only question is that it says on day 2 to proof for 18-24 hours. This would put us into day 3 for the baking, right? Also, I’m accustomed to 18-24 hours refrigerated fermenting with sourdough baking, but not countertop fermentation for so long, so I just want to make sure I am understanding correctly! Thank you! (Also after reading all the instructions before the recipe, I see it says 6-8 hours… this is a big difference from 12-18!)

    1. Hi there! It very much depends on the temperature of your kitchen (we leave it on countertop for 6-8 hours in the summer and 12-18 hours in winter). The best way to judge when panettone is ready to bake is by by how much it rises. It should tripe in size on the first prove and be just over double in volume on the second. It does take a long time to rise, even in warm environments as the dough is extremely rich with all the butter and yolks.

      Thanks for the feedback as well, I will make sure to update the recipe to make the timings/ temperatures a bit clearer.

      1. 5 stars
        I wanted to wait until I had delivered the goods to reply to you: my sister declared them the best panettone she’s ever had. Everyone else agreed, but she’s the real connoisseur. Thank you so much for your recipe and your advice which enabled me to make that little Christmas wish come true for her! They were all raving about how incredible it was. I let mine rise for its second proof overnight in my kitchen which got quite chilly that night but the next day I relit the fire in the wood stove to give it the warm oomph it needed, and it loved it. Overall it proofed for about 24 hours, which was perfect in this cold winter weather. I encountered the same difficulty as George below in figuring out panettone pan size (in the US they use diameter and height rather than mL size), but since I could only get King Arthur baking panettone pans, that’s what I used. I should have only used one but used two instead and so they were half-height loaves. And then my final mistake was flipping the loaves too soon after they came out of the oven. Their tops fell off, which was a big visual disappointment, but the flavor and smell were so amazing that ultimately it didn’t detract. I’m assuming if I’d let them cool five minutes right side up I may have been able to avoid this calamity. Thank you again for this incredible recipe!

        1. Thanks so much for the feedback! So glad your sister enjoyed the panettone – your comment made my day! 💗

  15. 5 stars
    Hi, I”m excited to try this recipe. need to buy the molds and don’t know what 500ml equates to in dimension? for some reason the links to mold shopping are gone. thank you! George

    1. Hi, mine are 13cm in diameter, and 9.5cm tall (sorry the ones on amazon are no longer available, but they have similar moulds on Bakery Bits online shop if you are in the UK (https://www.bakerybits.co.uk/panettone-alto-ondulato-cases-500g-or-135mm-10-300-pieces?gclid=CjwKCAiAnZCdBhBmEiwA8nDQxSScy6Zv_EfR3V9fLIHCp67MDVOIcvNUBcX7Ci8-uN28p5dqZcc4VhoCFdUQAvD_BwE).

    2. For anyone not able to find store bought molds, here’s a link to make your own 🙂. I used non stick parchment paper and non-stick brown baking paper for each mold. (The parchment origame mold on inside & the origame brown baking paper exterior – 2 layer/ molds total for each mold. They were perfect and did not change in structure during final rise nor during baking.
      https://youtu.be/sGIj4cGFXY8

    3. 5 stars
      Sorry about that George, I meant to send this origame panetonne mold link (it’s easier to fololow along and make successfully) 🙂
      https://youtu.be/pqUNwB0AQsU

      1. This is brilliant! Cannot wait to try making these 🙂

  16. Hi! I would like to clarify, do you use soft butter or cold butter? Thanks

    1. Hi! Soft butter will be needed, so that it incorporates into the dough well without staying in lumps. 🙂

  17. Matej @ CookWeWill says: Reply

    5 stars
    I’ve never cooked my own Panettone before so I was worried I would mess it up, but it turned out really great. Thanks for a great recipe!

  18. Happy Holidays 🥳🥂 Thank you for sharing this recipe ❤. After years of wanting to attempt this baking challenge, thanks to your recipe and helpful advice I was able to try making sourdough panetonne. I just unmolded and decorated them. They will be wrapped and I will wait three LONG days 😁 before trying a slice. As it is winter and the kitchen being on the cold spectrum, both the 1st and 2nd doughs rose slowly. Not easily disuaded, I exercised patience and waited 🙂. The smell of baking panetonne is indescribable and worth the endeavour. Nothing quite compares to this. If I were to do anything differently the next time, it would be to bake them at 170c for your suggested baking times. At 180c I checked them after 37 minutes and they were over baked by 4 minutes, my guess. No real harm though, so all is well.
    I have one question, what should the expected height of the final baked product be, ideally? Again, thank you for inspiring me to give this a try. Looking forward to making them again.

    1. Happy holidays to you too! 💗 Thanks for trying the recipe and for the feedback regarding the baking temperature.
      When we bake our panettones in 500ml moulds (13cm in diameter/ 9.5cm high), I’d estimate they are typically 11-13cm tall when baked, but I am sure they have an even more open crumb and rise even higher if an extra mighty sourdough starter is used 😀

  19. I fully agree. The mightier the sourdough, the mightier the rise! Thank you for the final baked height and dimensions. 🥳🥂❤

  20. . The dough fell down in the oven and top crumbled when I turned upside down. Total disaster. Tasted sour and burnt butter. waste of time and product.

    1. Sorry to hear you had an issue with the recipe! I am surprised that the panettone tasted of burned butter, as it is only in the oven for 40-45 minutes. The sour taste would be to do with the acid in the starter. I tend to feed mine a couple of days in a row to reduce the amount of acidity before I make anything with enriched dough. I will definitely look into the issue of the top crumbling and update the post when I understand the cause of it and find a potential solution 🙂

  21. 5 stars
    This looks really delicious! I love all the nooks and crannies in it. I can see why you need such an active starter.

  22. Hi Ieva, I really want to try this. May I ask how to make 100% hydration sour dough? Without this I can’t make the 40% sour dough to start. I am an inexperienced in baking. I have a Thermomix machine now, if you have heard or seen this machine. It has a lot of bread making recipes but not panettone and it knead the bread fast. I love panettone bread. I will definitely try it when the weather is warmer. Can I learn how to make 100% hydration sour dough please.

    1. Hi Hannah! We love Panettone too, so I completely understand how keen you are to make it.
      I have heard of Thermomix, but haven’t used it so cannot advise on how suitable it would be for making this recipe.
      To make your own sourdough starter, you can follow the instructions here -> https://somebodyfeedseb.com/sourdough-starter/
      We recommend using a mature active starter in any enriched dough recipes (and panettone is very heavily enriched with butter and eggs), so I would wait at least 3 months from when you start feeding your starter, to make sure it has strong yeast colonies to help the bread rise. Or if you don’t want to wait that long, you can buy mature starters online or ask for a small amount of it from a local bakery (if they bake with sourdough).
      We also have a Free “Sourdough Starter Guide for Beginners” if you want to have a look 🙂
      Welcome to the sourdough world! You are going to love it 💗

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