Christmas time is my favorite time of the year! It's not about the presents for me, it's about the baking! Not only do we bake all different kinds of cookies, we also bake special breads, like this Pandolce Genovese.
I've been lucky enough to be in Italy during Christmas time. The cities sparkle with beautiful lights and you can visit all the different markets selling special artisan products and special foods. It is guaranteed that no matter where you will go, expect to have some panettone or pandoro.
Panettone derives from the Italian word “panetto”, a small loaf bread. I love panettone and pandoro and we will bake a panettone this Christmas.
In the stunning Ligurian region of Italy, they make pandolce. This is a recipe I found in an older Saveur book I have that is all about Italian food. I had mentioned when I first posted this that I also found a Nick Malgieri recipe for the pandolce. I never ended up making it and I have no idea where I found it, but I remember the recipes being very similar.
some notes on this recipe:
This slightly sweet fruit-and-nut-studded bread is a dense bread and in my opinion, much better than a fruitcake. I made two loaves instead of one very big one. It is not as buttery and it is also not as wonderfully fluffy as panettone or pandoro. When you use yeast for this recipe it is called pandolce alto. If you use baking powder instead of yeast, it is called pandolce basso. I find this bread to remind me of an Irish soda bread in consistency (even though it's made with yeast). The scent that fills your house while it is baking is lovely and festive. In this version I added currants and dried cranberries. I didn't have pinoli on hand and chopped up some almonds instead. You could add dried plums or dried apricots. I have also seen a version with chocolate and hazelnuts. That is what I will try next!! I actually will make my own lievito madre (natural leaven)to make this next bread. My mother-in-law always makes her Calabrian bread with her own lievito madre.
You may think something was wrong with your yeast as I did when the timer beeps to remind you that it's ready to bake. The dough will not have risen very much. It is a dense bread and it will rise more in the oven while it's baking.
#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Savoring Italy and runs smoothly with the help of Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, and the rest of our fabulous bakers.
This month we are baking Holiday Breads that are perfect to celebrate the holiday season. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month's inspiring selection of #TwelveLoaves Thanksgiving Biscuits and Rolls!
- Buttermilk Honey Santa Bread from Kudos Kitchen
- Cranberry Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Baking in Pyjamas
- Christmas Morning Crown from All That's Left are the Crumbs
- Cranberry Orange Muffins from Hostess at Heart
- Fruity Santa Bread from Cheap Ethnic Eatz
- Pandolce Genovese from Savoring Italy
- Pecan Kringle from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- The Precise Kitchen Elf's Panettone from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Prep Time: 3-4 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes to one hour
Ingredients (2 round loaves or 1 large roun)
- 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1/2 cup butter, softened, plus additional for greasing
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. fennel seeds
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 tsp. orange flower water
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1?2 cup dried currants
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup finely chopped candied (I used grated zest from one orange )
- orange rind
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (I used chopped whole almonds in this one)
Prepare the filling ingredients and set aside in a small bowl.
Dissolve yeast in milk in a small bowl. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat butter in an electric mixer and gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and orange flower water, and mix thoroughly.
Add milk and dissolved yeast and mix. (Mixture may appear slightly curdled.)
Switch to the dough hook and gradually add flour, mixing thoroughly.
When dough is smooth, mix in currants, raisins, orange rind, and pine nuts. The dough will be moist. Transfer dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for 3–4 hours. (Dough may only rise a little; this is a dense bread.)
Preheat oven to 375°. Your dough may be sticky. If so, wet your hands before transferring the dough to your parchment lined cookie sheet. Shape into a 6 inch round and make a tic-tac-toe (#) pattern on top of the bread with a sharp knife.
Bake until golden, 45 minutes to 1 hour. *I checked my bread after about 40 minutes and lowered the heat to 350 and tented it with aluminum foil so it wouldn’t brown too much more during the remainder of the baking time.
Cool completely. To serve, cut or break into small pieces and serve with sweet wine, if desired. (Store in an airtight container.)