Pandolce Genovese is a typical holiday bread from the Liguria region of Italy. It is filled with sweet raisins and pine nuts. Really easy to put together and delicious on Christmas morning.
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.
My Favorite Italian Christmas Desserts
This lovely Italian Christmas bread called Pandolce Genovese is part of our Favorite Italian Christmas Dessert series. I recently shared our Lemon Cornmeal Cookies (gluten-free!) and also our favorite Italian Lemon Knot Cookies-Taralli al LimoneYou can’t miss my Italian mother-in-law’s cherished Nocatole-Calabrian Sweet Fritters recipe. Another can’t miss recipe are these Pitta ‘Impigliata-Calabrian Fruit and Nut Pastries. Soon there will be more to come to make a sweet Italian Christmas!
What does panettone mean?
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.
- 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.)
- When you put the dough in the greased bowl, make sure it is smooth on top because when it ready to bake, you will just transform it directly from the bowl to the parchment lined baking sheet.
- 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″ 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.)