Traditional Italian Pandoro Recipe for Christmas

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Christmas in Italy means a lot of food and a classical debate is between the two most traditional Italian Christmas cakes, panettone, and pandoro. The panettone is a fruity bread, while the pandoro has a totally different taste, it’s sweeter and fluffier.

There are 2 versions of pandoro recipes, an easy one which dry yeast, way easier and quicker to make (here the recipe) and the traditional one, which requires a lot of effort, all extremely worth.

Like all traditional leavened products, pandoro requires a lot of time and effort if you want to make it at home; in fact there are different leavenings necessary and for this reason it is necessary to put some time aside if you want to prepare a cake very similar to that found in pastry shops or at the supermarket.

The origins of pandoro are apparently to be traced back to Verona when this sweet that was called “Pan de Oro” was served in the homes of the richest. The shape of pandoro was chosen by the painter Angelo Dall’Oca Bianca and together with the recipe, they were deposited in 1894 by the owner of the famous Italian company Melegatti.


Apart from the amount of time requested, you need a stand mixer and a special mold. You could mix it by hand but the stand mixer does it better because it incorporates air more easily and more effectively.

Which type of yeast makes the best pandoro?

The most common question of those who make pandoro is related to which type of yeast makes the best bread. You can use instant yeast if you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen but the best result is gained by using fresh yeast. This yeast comes in a solid block and it can be hard to track down but if you start using it for your baking you’ll easily notice the difference since it adds a more robust flavor.

Is the homemade pandoro like the shop bought?

Of course not: the oven is different from that used in a pastry shop and it can happen that the pandoro is too dry inside, in case the temperature of your oven is different from the standards. Moreover, this type of leavened product requires some tests that allow you to understand how to cook your product in relation to your working space: every house and every room in each house are different in terms of humidity, heat and other fundamental elements that have an important impact on a well-done cake like this. It is good therefore to take into account that the final result may differ from what was expected, especially if it is the first time that it is tested.

Pandoro recipe

Let’s now move to the recipe: as you will see, the sugar used in this recipe is very low. Usually, more sugar is used but I prefer my pandoro not very sweet as it will then be sweetened with powdered sugar and potentially served with mascarpone cream, chocolate cream and so on. You can increase the doses by 10 grams per single dough if you prefer it sweeter. The recipe is not difficult, but it’s definitely time-consuming. The result? Amazing, trust me!

Ingredients for a pandoro (2.2 Pounds – 1 Kg)


    • 50 grams of Manitoba flour (2 ounces)
    • 5 grams of fresh yeast (0.18 ounces)
    • 30 grams of water (2 tablespoons)

First Dough

    • Poolish (see the method below)
    • 1 whole egg (net weight without shell)
    • 90 grams of Manitoba flour (4 ounces)
    • 7 grams of fresh yeast (0.18 ounces)
    • 10 grams of caster sugar (0.04 cups)

Second Dough

    • 200 grams of Manitoba flour (9 ounces)
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 1/2 grated lemon peel
    • 20 grams of egg yolks (1 ounce)
    • 70 grams of caster sugar (5/8 cups)
    • 125 grams of soft butter (9 tablespoons)
    • 10 grams of honey (1/4 tablespoon)
    • 1 vanilla pod


  1. The evening before preparing the pandoro, prepare the poolish by mixing all the ingredients (Manitoba flour, yeast, and water) until you’ll get a homogeneous loaf. Place the dough in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise overnight;
  2. The following day, start the first dough for Pandoro by kneading the poolish with Manitoba flour, crumbled fresh yeast and sugar;
  3. Start to knead and add the egg, leaving the stand mixer to work until all the ingredients are well blended;
  4. Quickly work the dough on a floured surface then place it in a glass bowl, cover it with cling paper and put it to rise for a couple of hours in a hot oven with the light on or let it rise for 4-5 hours at room temperature. In both cases, the dough should double in volume;
  5. Once leavened, resume the dough and put it back into the stand mixer. Add the honey, the peel of half a lemon, the seeds of the vanilla pod, the 200 grams of Manitoba flour and the 70 grams of sugar;
  6. Start kneading at low speed then gradually add eggs and egg yolks, making sure that they are perfectly incorporated by the mixture;
  7. Gradually add the soft butter cut into cubes, letting the mixer continue to work. When the butter is incorporated into the other ingredients, stop the planetary and transfer the dough to a non-floured work surface;
  8. Make the folds to the dough, ie folding it first towards you and then from above to below. Then make a ball of smooth and compact dough and place it inside the buttered and floured mold;
  9. Place the mold inside the oven with the light on and let the pandoro leaven for 8-10 hours or let it rise at room temperature for 10-12 hours. In this case, the dough must reach the edge of the mold to be considered ready;
  10. Cook the pandoro at 140° C making sure to place a bowl full of water on the bottom of the oven so as to maintain constant humidity and help the pandoro not only to cook evenly but also not to dry out;
  11. Pandoro will be cooked when it will be golden on top and the spaghetto / toothpick test will be dry inside. Remove from the oven, let it cool for 30-40 minutes then remove it from the mold and cover with icing sugar!

Preparation time: 36 hours

Small tricks and tips for your homemade Italian pandoro

  • Remember to store your pandoro in a plastic bag so it will not dry out. Properly stored, the homemade pandoro lasts at least 7 days;
  • You can freeze the pandoro in slices but remember to defrost it in the refrigerator before putting it in the oven to heat it quickly (clearly the taste could change a lot);
  • Once hardened, do not throw it but recycle it: you can prepare truffles, a tiramisu, an English cake, and many other sweets and more.

Check for more Italian and International Christmas Recipes

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Categories: Christmas recipes, Sweets & Cakes, Traditional Italian recipes
Article written by Veruska Anconitano aka La Cuochina Sopraffina
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