When the fresh fruits of summer are long gone, it’s time to soak up every bit of flavor from their dried counterparts by embedding them into a decadent holiday panettone. Every culture seems to have its own dried fruit-based sweet bread, from the julekake of Norway (my mother-in-law’s recipe is amazing! I’ll make it for the blog next year) to the stollen of Germany to the panettone of Italy—they’re all delicious and slightly unique in their chosen flavor combinations and forms. Panettone is a wonderful way to make use of dried local fruits, and spend some time in the kitchen soaking up all the incredible smells that this recipe will bring into your oven and your home.
I worked on this recipe for a few days to get the texture, rise, and flavor of the dough juuust right, and it’s certainly a special one (this isn’t your grandma’s panettone! Unless your grandma really likes orange liqueur—in which case give her a high-five from me.) There’s a couple things you need to know before diving into this recipe, and the first is that it takes two days to make, because the dough requires an overnight rise in the refrigerator. So make sure to read through the whole recipe before you get started, so you know how to pace things out.
The second is that you need a paper panettone mold, I used these ones and they worked great! You can just place it on a lipped baking sheet to make it easy to take it in and out of the oven as the panettone bakes. If you want to use something else, I can’t really speak to that, since I’ve only made it with the paper molds. If you want to make sure it comes out right, it’s worth nabbing a paper panettone mold, in my humble opinion.
As far as what you can expect from this panettone, it’s got a really wonderful citrus zing to it thanks to the fresh orange juice and zest in the dough, and the orange liqueur that the dried fruits are poached in. The boozy dried fruits are incorporated into the dough after the overnight rise, as well as some chopped pistachios for extra floral and Mediterranean flavor. It makes for a really light and fluffy panettone that tastes wonderfully bright and citrusy!
There’s also a mascarpone glaze that goes on top to sweeten the whole thing up a bit, and if you *really* want to take the citrus flavors up a notch, you can make the very optional (I know this recipe is a kinda complex one in the first place) candied clementine twists in the recipe below. I put those on top of the panettone along with whole peeled mini-clementines for some additional citrus flavor and a bright and festive pop of color and texture. But you know what? This thing tastes good either way, so it’s really your call if you want to make them or not.
And I know folks like to bake a lot of cookies this time of year (I’ve got a recipe for them coming in a couple weeks!), so if you’ve got cookies on the brain I’ve got some recommendations for you! Namely these Greek butter cookies, these cinnamon roll cookies, and these melomakarona (an old traditional Greek Christmas cookie from deeeeep in the blog archives, this recipe makes enough cookies for a large Greek household, so probably cut it in half unless you’re craving a few dozen cookies). Enjoy my friends!!
Panettone with Mascarpone Glaze and Candied Clementines
- 1/2 cup luke warm water
- 1 tablespoon instant or active dry yeast
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
Fruit and Nut Filling
- 1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit cut into 1/2-inch cubes such as dried apricots, dried currants, dates, and/or raisins
- 1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped shelled raw or roasted pistachios
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Candied Clementine Twists (OPTIONAL GARNISH)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 5 mini clementines
Baking the Panettone
- 1/2 tablespoon cold butter
- 1 paper panettone mold (4.8-Inches Height x 6.75-Inches Width)
- 2/3 cup mascarpone at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk at room temperature
- 1 pinch of salt
- In a small bowl, gently stir together the water and yeast. Allow to rest for 5 minutes until bubbles form on top. Mix in the flour, cover, and rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the starter, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract, and mix together over low speed until combined and a wet dough forms, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through. Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the salt and 2 cups of flour, then mix at low speed until roughly combined.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment, and mix at low speed for 8 minutes to develop the gluten. Add 1/2 cup of the flour and mix until incorporated. Then add the butter in 4 increments, alternating with the remaining 3/4 cups flour. Mix until all the butter and flour are incorporated and a smooth dough forms around the dough hook. Lightly grease a bowl with oil, place the dough in the bowl, and cover and refrigerate overnight.
Fruit and Nut Filling
The same day that you begin making the dough, place the dried fruit, liqueur, and water in a small pot over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the fruit has softened, about 8 to 12 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and leave at room temperature overnight.
- Coarsely chop the pistachios and mix with the cinnamon. Store in an airtight container overnight.
Candied Clementine Twists (OPTIONAL GARNISH)
The same day that you begin making the dough, slice the clementines as instructed in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYjfNosujSk (this will allow you to create the twist shape later on). Bring the water, sugar, and honey to a boil in a small pot over medium high heat. Add the sliced mini clementines and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, spooning off and discarding any foam that forms on top, and flipping the slices every 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and use tongs to remove the slices and place them on a wire rack to cool, with a paper towel underneath to catch any dripping syrup. Once they're warm and no longer super hot, form the twist shape and place them back on the rack to continue cooling and firming up overnight.
Filling + Baking the Panettone
- The next day, take the bowl of dough out of the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften it slightly (this will make it easier to roll out).
- On a *lightly* floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle. Evenly distribute half of the dried fruit over the rectangle, pressing each piece gently but firmly into the dough to embed it slightly when you place it. Sprinkle half of the pistachios over the rectangle, and gently pat them into the dough with flat hands.
- Fold the dough up like a letter (i.e. in thirds), pressing down to get the folded dough to stick together. Roll out this dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle again, and evenly distribute the remaining half of the dried fruit over the rectangle, pressing each piece gently but firmly into the dough to embed it slightly when you place it. Sprinkle the remaining half of the pistachios over the rectangle, and gently pat them into the dough with flat hands.
- Fold the dough up like a letter again (i.e. in thirds), pressing down to get the folded dough to stick together. Now fold the rectangle in half to form a square, and press down on it to get the fold to stick together. Gather up the four corners of the square and pull them together to form a dome on the opposite side. Flip it upside down and placed the gathered corners facing down in the panettone mold, so that the dome is facing up.
Cover with lightly greased foil, beeswrap, or plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature out of direct sunlight until the panettone dough dome rises over the top of the mold, about 2 to 3 hours. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit during the last 30 minutes of proofing.
Place the panettone on a lipped baking sheet. Remove the foil/beeswrap/plastic wrap. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a 4-inch X into the top of the dough (this will help stabilize the rise in the oven while it bakes), and place the cold pat of butter on the center of the X. Place the pan in the lowest rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven, gently cover the top of the panettone with foil, place it back in the oven, and reduce the oven's temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Continue baking until a thermometer inserted into the center of the panettone reads 190 degrees Fahrenheit (it's worth poking the end of the thermometer in at a few different angles and depths to make sure the bread is completely cooked through before removing it from the oven), about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes more. Remove the panettone from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the mascarpone and powdered sugar at low speed until combined. Add the milk and salt and mix *just* until smooth, pausing to scrape down the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Be VERY care NOT to over-beat, mascarpone over-beats *very easily* and the glaze will separate if this happens. If the mascarpone and the milk are not at room temperature, this can also cause the glaze to separate.
- When the Panettone is completely cool, you can remove and discard the paper mold. Drizzle the top of the panettone with the mascarpone glaze, and top with the candied clementine twists. If you have more clementines, you can peel them and place them whole on top of the panettone as well for some eye candy. Serve and enjoy!