Pandoro vs. Panettone | Which Should you Serve? + Bonus Recipe

What is pandoro? This is one question that circulates in the culinary forums daily. Pandoro is traditional Italian sweet yeast bread. It is normally served during the holidays (Christmas and New Year). Pandoro is normally shaped like a frustum with an eight pointed-star section. Tradition calls for pandoro to be served dusted with vanilla scented icing sugar that resembles the beautiful peaks of the Italian Alps during Christmas.

What is Panettone? Panettone is sweet bread loaf that comes from Milan. Panettone is also served during Christmas and Italy.

Which one should you serve?

This subject has been debated by many Italian families over the years. Some prefer pandoro, while others are fond of panettone. Panettone lovers feel that pandoro is too simple and buttery. Pandoro followers do not like panettone because it is filled with candied fruits and raisins. They are highly in favor of one bringing a delicious pandoro recipe to life. Buying both is the solution to making both factions happy!

Let’s take a close look at the differences between both treasured treats.

Panettone is a Christmastime cake that comes from Milan. It takes several hours to make the cake dough because it must be cured in a way similar to sourdough. The cake dough will rise and fall three times before being baked. Panettone has a sweet taste and unique domed shape.

In many instances, panettone is compared to fruitcake because both are made with delicious candied fruits and raisins. Originating in Verona, it has a bright yellow color. This star-shaped cake dusted with powdered sugar can be recognized with ease.

It is vital to point out that both cakes must be made with specific ingredients to be traditional. You will be in good company if you serve pandoro or panettone on Christmas. Italian bakers sell close to 117 million cakes each year!

Pandoro Recipe

Ingredients (16)

For the starter:

-1/2 warm water (106 degrees Fahrenheit to 110 degrees Fahrenheit)

-1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

-1 large egg yolk

-1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

For the cake:

-6 large egg yolks

-3 cups of all-purpose flour

-1/2 cup of granulated sugar

-1 large egg

-8 tablespoons of unsalted butter (one stick), at room temperature and cut into tiny pieces

-3/4 teaspoon of orange zest

-1 tablespoon of kosher salt

-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

To serve:

-Slivered almonds (toasted)

-Powdered sugar (for dusting)

-Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream


Pandoro (Golden Cake) is like panettone when it comes to its sweet yeastiness. This is one of the main reasons why it is a well-known Christmas time treat. It is challenging to make at home, but it is worth the effort. Pandoro is traditionally flavored with lemon zest or citron, but we used orange zest for this recipe.

Special equipment: You can find star-shaped pandoro molds at specialty kitchen stores.

Main Game Plan: Some ovens are equipped with a “proof” setting. If yours does not have this setting, set it at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Consistent warmth will help the dough rise faster.


For the starter:

  1. Put all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until it doubles in size. This process normally takes 1 1/2 hours.

For the cake:

  1. Thoroughly coat a large bowl with butter. Set aside.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of your flour to the starter, and mix (using the hook attachment on a stand mixer) on low until incorporated (about one minute). Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix until incorporated (about one minute). Add three of the egg yolks. Mix until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add half of your butter pieces, 1 or 2 at a time, waiting until each are incorporated before adding the next. Knead at medium speed until dough is stringy (three to five minutes).
  3. Place your dough in the prepared bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours). Clean the mixer bowl thoroughly.
  4. Carefully place risen dough in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 cups of flour, remaining 3 egg yolks, salt, the egg, zest, and vanilla. Using the hook attachment, turn the mixer to low and knead until incorporated (about one minute). Add remaining half of the butter pieces to the bowl (1 or 2 pieces at a time). Make certain that each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until your dough is stringy and sticky (about 5 to 8 minutes more) In the meantime, generously coat a large bowl with butter. Place dough in the coated bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow your ingredients to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size. This process will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. Coat a 9-cup pandoro mold with 1 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter with the aid of a pastry brush. Sift flour into the mold to evenly coat. Tap out the excess. Make certain that you get all the corners to prevent potential sticking.
  6. Take the risen dough out of the bowl and transfer to the prepared mold (the dough should fill the pan about halfway). cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm area until the dough is about 1/2 inch from the top of your pan (about one hour). Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange a rack in the lower third of your oven.
  7. Allow the pandoro to bake for fifteen minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow it to bake until the pandoro has a dark golden brown color, and the cake tester emerges clean from the center (about 20 to 25 minutes more).
  8. Allow your finished masterpiece to cool on a wire rack for at least ten minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool on the rack for about one hour.

To serve:

  1. Turn the cake upside down and dust with powdered sugar when it has cooled completely. Serve with fresh toasted almonds and Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream.


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