Traditional Italian Pandoro Recipe

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
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Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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Have you ever heard of pandoro cake? Pandoro is a typical Italian recipe Italians make and eat for Christmas: a yellow and soft-leavened product that we eat alone or with cream. It’s the counterpart of the panettone, another very typical Italian Christmas recipe, and it’s also called “golden bread.”

There are two versions of pandoro recipes, an easy one which dry yeast, way more straightforward and quicker to make, and the traditional one, which requires a lot of effort, but the result is simply stunning.

Like all traditional leavened products, pandoro requires a lot of time and effort if you want to make it home.

You need to plan for the different leavenings stages, so you must put some time aside if you want to prepare a cake similar to that found in pastry shops or bakeries.

Why is pandoro so special?

The origins of pandoro are traced back to Verona, Northern Italy. This sweet treat was called “Pan de Oro” and served in the homes of the richest.

The shape of the 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.

Pandoro Traditional Italian Recipe

Ingredients for one 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, make 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 doubled in size, 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 you've incorporated all the ingredients in the mixture;
    7. Slowly add the soft butter cut into cubes, letting the mixer continue to work. When the butter is incorporated into the other elements, stop the planetary and transfer the dough to a non-floured work surface;
    8. Make the folds to the mixture, 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 tin 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 to maintain constant humidity and help the pandoro not only to cook evenly but also not to dry out;
    11. Your pandoro will be ready when it is golden on top, and the spaghetti/toothpick test will be dry inside. Remove from the oven, let it cool for 30-40 minutes, then remove it from the mold, place it in a wire rack and cover with icing sugar!


    Preparation time: 35 minutes

    Cooking time: 2 minutes

    Total time: 37 minutes


    What do you need to prepare the pandoro?

    Aside from the time requested, you need a stand mixer. You could mix it by hand, but a stand mixer does a better job because it incorporates air more efficiently and effectively.

    What type of yeast should you use?

    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 you can get the best result only by using fresh yeast. This yeast comes in a solid block, which can be hard to track down, but if you start using it for your baking, you’ll quickly notice the difference since it adds a more robust flavor.

    How hard is it to make this Italian Christmas Cake?

    Let’s now move to the recipe: as you will notice, we’ve used a meager amount of sugar in this recipe. 

    Usually, this recipe requires more sugar, but we prefer our pandoro not to be 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 complicated, but it’s time-consuming. The result? Amazing, trust us!

    Is the homemade pandoro like the shop-bought?

    Of course not: the oven is different from that used in a pastry shop, and your pandoro may end up being too dry inside, in case the temperature of your furnace is different from the standards. 

    This leavened product also requires tests to understand how to cook your product in your working space.

    Every house and every room in each house is different in terms of humidity, heat, and other fundamental elements that impact a well-done cake like this. 

    Therefore, it is reasonable to consider that the final result may differ from what you expected, especially if it is the first time you make the pandoro cake.

    Shopping List To Make Pandoro Christmas Cake At Home

    Pandoro Mold: the only way to get a perfectly shaped pandoro Christmas cake.
    Hand Mixer: mixing your dough with a hand mixer makes everything easier. There are so many hand mixers out there that picking one is almost impossible. A classic Kitchen Aid is always a good choice. If you’re looking for the best stand mixers, look at our recommendations.
    Flour: If you’re looking for unbleached all-purpose flour, we always recommend using Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached.

    Tips and Tricks To Enjoy Your Homemade Pandoro

    • Remember to store your pandoro in a plastic bag so it will not dry out. Properly stored, the homemade pandoro lasts at least seven 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.

    Homemade Pandoro Recipe: FAQs

    What does a pandoro taste like?

    Describing the taste of a pandoro is quite hard. The dough is so soft and light that it seems like sweet bread. All the flavors are balanced, resulting in an incredible Christmas cake.

    How do you eat pandoro?

    Pandoro can be eaten as it is, with powdered sugar, or served with custard, chocolate, ice cream, and whipped cream.

    Do you heat pandoro?

    Pandoro can be heated or eaten at room temperature. When heated at a very low temperature, the smell pervades the room, and it’s an incredible experience to taste it slightly hot.

    Does pandoro need to be refrigerated?

    No, pandoro doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Put it in a plastic bag, seal it and enjoy!

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