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Nov 16, 2022

Overnight Panettone

Make this overnight panettone for a homemade version of the traditional Milanese holiday bread. 

Overnight Panettone on a cake stand.

Panettone is one of those "holy grail" enriched breads that takes a few steps to make and includes eggs, lots of butter, plus raisins and candied citrus peel.  

The story goes that, in Milan in the Middle Ages, the poor baked with millet and the wealthy baked with wheat. However, only at Christmas, could bakers for the poor make breads with wheat, butter, eggs, sugar, and candied fruit. This bread became known as pan di tono, meaning rich, fancy bread. (Source: The Italian Baker). 

There are also many other fables regarding the mystery of this bread, including one where this baker named Tony wanted to win over a rich merchant so that he could marry the daughter. He gave the man butter, brandied fruits, nuts, and sugar to symbolize the gifts of the Magi. 

The father was so impressed that he bankrolled a bakery for Tony in Milan so the baker could make pane Tony. (Source: The Bread Baker's Apprentice). 

You can decide which story you wish to believe! 

Overnight Panettone on plates.

Evidently, panettone was originally a shorter bread until 1921, when a baker named Angelo Motta started using a natural yeast and a tall round form to make the tall domed panettones that we know today. 

According to Carol Field, panettone is now more popular in central and southern Italy than in the north, and that the bakers in these regions produce millions of panettones every season. 

It's also said that the natural yeast that the Italian bakers use produces a bread that will last for weeks. While I've yet to try a piece of week's old panettone, it's definitely true that wild yeast will extend the shelf-life and add more flavor to any bread, including enriched breads such as pannetone. 

Overnight Panettone on plates.

This recipe includes an overnight starter, although it is does not include wild yeast. Even so, this starter is excellent at developing flavor and lasting freshness. 

If you'd like to try making panettone with a sourdough starter, be sure to try the one I posted back in 2012 (has it been that long?). 

Ingredient Notes:

For the fruits, I used chopped dried apricots, raisins, dried blueberries, and dried cranberries. I soaked them in some rum and water before including them in the dough. 

You can vary the fruit and include dried pineapple, golden raisins, maraschino cherries, dried cherries, or candied citrus peel. You can also include chopped chocolate and slivered almonds. 

For the yeast, you can use instant yeast, or if you have it, osmotolerant yeast such as SAF Gold, which is great when baking enriched breads (breads with lots of eggs, sugar, and butter). 

To flavor the dough, the traditional ingredient is Fiori di Sicilia, which is sort of a combination of vanilla and citrus flavor, kind of like Orange Julius for those of you who are old enough to remember. I happened to have a bottle in my refrigerator (you definitely need to keep it refrigerated after opening). If you don't have any, you can use some vanilla along with some orange oil. 

Before baking, I sprinkled the top of this panettone with Swedish pearl sugar. It's both decorative, tasty, and doesn't dissolve over time. 

The other ingredient you need is patience. First, the dough is pretty sticky and wet and may not be that easy to handle. Still, you don't want to add too much flour so that you lose the light texture of the bread. 

In addition, the kneading and rising times with this bread requires patience. 

Overnight Panettone on plates.

I baked this panettone in a 6 inch panettone paper. I didn't get the poofy chef's hat on the top, and I was pretty sure that the dough was fully proofed. You might want to try this in a smaller (5 1/4 inch) panettone pan. 

The original recipe from King Arthur Baking calls for baking the panettone in a 1 1/2 quart or 2 quart sauce pan lined with parchment, so I had to guess on the panettone paper size (although in the Q&A they recommend the 6 inch paper... just saying). 

Note: It's important to pay attention to the internal temperature of the bread to know that it's done. An instant read thermometer (not an affiliate link) is very helpful. The outside of the loaf tends to brown very quickly due to the sugars in the bread, so you can't necessarily go by the appearance. 

By the way, this bread is excellent for making bread pudding or French toast. 

This month, the Bread Baking Babes are making Panettone. Our host kitchen is Judy of Judy's Gross Eats who introduced us to this formula from King Arthur Baking. They also have a version with cherries, almonds, and chocolate. 

Be sure to visit the links after the recipe to see how everyone played with the recipe. 

Overnight Panettone on a cake stand.

More Italian holiday breads:


Crescia al Formaggio

Ciambella Mandorlata

Pane de Pasqua

Overnight Panettone

Overnight Panettone
Yield: 30 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 1 HourCook time: 1 HourInactive time: 8 HourTotal time: 10 Hour
Make this overnight panettone for a homemade version of the traditional Milanese holiday bread.


For the Starter
  • 90 grams (3/4 cup) unbleaches all purpose flour
  • 1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 74 grams cool water
For the Final Dough
  • All of the starter
  • 270 grams (2 1/4 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) warm (about 90 degrees F) water
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature (about 65 degrees F)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract plus 1/8 teaspoon orange oil
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons SAF gold or 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 8 grams (1 1/4 teaspoons) salt
  • 67 grams (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 85 grams (1/2 cup) raisins
  • 64 grams (1/2 cup) chopped dried apricots
  • 85 grams (1/2 cup) dried blueberries
  • 85 grams (1/2 cup) dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 teaspoons Swedish pearl sugar (optional)


For the Starter
  1. Add all of the starter ingredients to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk. Cover and let rise overnight, 8 to 12 hours.
For the Final Dough
  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients up to the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook and mix until combined. With the mixer running, add the butter, in pieces, until each piece is fully incorporated.
  2. Knead the dough with the dough hook for about 10 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket. Cover, and let rise in a warm spot until puffy but not necessarily doubled, about 1 to 2 hours.
  4. In the meantime, soak the dried fruit in the rum and water. Drain the fruit just before incorporating it into the final dough.
  5. Deflate the dough and knead in the drained fruit.
  6. As best you can, form the dough (it should be very sticky) into a ball, and place it into a panettone paper pan or 1 1/2 quart to 2 quart parchment-lined tall sauce pan.
  7. Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  8. If you are using a paper pan, place it on a baking sheet.
  9. Bake the bread for 10 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  10. Bake for an additional 25 to 40 minutes, until the bread reaches an interior temperature of 190 degrees F. You may need to tent the pan at about the 25 minute mark. It's important that the bread reach the correct internal temperature.
  11. Cool the loaf completely on a wire rack.
  12. Keep leftovers well wrapped.

Nutrition Facts



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Did you make this recipe?
Tag on instagram and hashtag it # karenskitchenstories

The Bread Baking Babes:

Judy's Gross Eats

A Messy Kitchen

Bread Experience

Feeding My Enthusiasms

Would you like to comment?

  1. Absolutely beautiful! I love the jewel tones of the cranberries and apricots. I would use a larger ratio of that next time though the golden raisins are tasty. They just aren't as pretty, lol.

  2. Gorgeous panettone! I need to try apricots next time as well. And French Toast, now there's an idea for next time.

  3. How beautiful! I really like the super festive look you got by using multi-coloured dried fruits. And the colour of the crust is a stunning contrast with the crumb.

    1. I'm not as thrilled with the bottom crust color, but I understand that's kind of how it goes when you are trying to reach the right internal temp.

  4. It would never last long enough to see if it lasts long lol


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