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Sourdough Panettone

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sourdough panettone with bow

I honestly don’t know what got into me. I think I had temporary insanity. When I saw that this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was Panettone, my brain immediately went to sourdough. And then when I saw that the recipe makes 3 loaves, I immediately thought, “Oh, I’ll just double the batch and give them as gifts to my friends”! Because taking 4 bags of flour and almost an entire freaking week to make the most complicated, fussy, precise bread you have ever made sounds like a good idea.

Panettone is the ultimate holiday bread studded with dried fruits and a soft, springy texture. This sourdough version takes many days to make, but the result is flavorful and lovely.
sourdough panettone with white ribbon bow around it
setting up panettone papers with chopsticks
skewered molds

But I did it anyway. I spent several days prior reading all the information I could on making panettone, filled four whole pages with notes, and spent 1 whole day trying in vain to find panettone wrappers in my town (and then just ordered them from Amazon). Add another day to transform my 100% hydration starter into a 50% hydration, and another day to transform it to an Italian sweet starter (you have to change the acidity levels).

hanging Pantone upside down on brooms
Just hanging out!

The list of ingredients is almost mind boggling (although, it really is only flour, water, starter, egg yolks and dried fruit), and the instructions take up several pages. It doesn’t seem technically hard, as long as you know your stages of gluten development and have the time to spare.

The “hard part” comes in when your toddler insists on helping you, flour flies everywhere, and you have no idea if any single ingredient made it into the bowl in the correct quantity. I am fairly certain I did not reach the correct gluten stage, as things were all the sudden very messy and crazy in my kitchen. The first rise overnight was great.

I got up early the next morning to get started, and had my molds, hanging apparatus and dough ready to go by 10 that morning. I nestled all the molds with towels and locked them in the bathroom (the warmest room in the house), and was sure they would rise quickly. Everywhere I looked, I saw posts about sourdough panettone taking 12-19 hours to rise, but I am certain this was not going to happen to me.

freshly baked sourdough panettone in wrappers
Not very pretty.

One of my favorite quotes (from the super amazing show “Deadwood” that aired on HBO a while ago) is “Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh” (gotta love Al Swearengen!). This quote applies perfectly to this situation, as 6, 10, 12 hours passed and my panettone dough was barely halfway up the molds. I decided to go to bed and checked on it regularly throughout the night – every two hours to be exact.

Finally, by 7 the next morning two of my panettone were ready to go and the others didn’t look to be far off. I started baking them, two at a time, hoping that the others would finish proofing as I was baking.

No such luck, though, and after nearly 24 hours of proofing, I decided they weren’t going to get any higher. And to add insult to injury, I got practically no oven spring during baking.


sourdough panettone on counter

They are definitely not the classic high raised loaves you see, and they don’t even reach the top of the paper molds!

The paper molds were another disappointment – they seemed to get greasy looking during the baking process – not the pretty paper I wanted to give gifts in at all! I knew I could not find corn flour for the glaze, so instead I used just egg whites with a smattering of cocoa powder whisked it. I did not like how it turned out at all, they got way too dark.

So the next ones I just “X”‘d and put a pat of butter in. Didn’t really like how those looked, either, as they formed a kind of crater in the center.

sourdough panettone with white ribbon bow around it

I was not giving up, though, since I put a whole week into these little guys. When all else fails, there is nothing like a dusting of powdered sugar and a pretty little bow to make things seem much better.

And even though these did not look like I wanted them to, they still had great taste and the texture was great, too! (disclaimer: I’ve never had panettone before this so I can’t compare it to the real thing. But I liked mine!).

I haven’t quite decided yet if I want to try this again (someday) to perfect it, or if next time I will just take the shortcut and use active dry yeast.

And no one I gave them to gives as commented on them, so I don’t really know if they liked them or not. Haha.

slice of sourdough panettone showing crumb

I am submitting this panettone to Yeastpotting, a wonderful weekly collection of all things yeasted and delicious! And, to make three birds with one stone, I am also going to submit this to Twelve Loaves, (whose theme this month was boozy bread, yum!) hosted by Cake Duchess, Creative Culinary and Life’s A Feast.


sourdough panettone with white ribbon bow around it
Table of Contents hide

Sourdough Panettone

Panettone is the ultimate holiday bread studded with dried fruits and a soft, springy texture. This sourdough version takes many days to make, but the result is flavorful and lovely.
4 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 3 days
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 3 days 40 minutes
Servings: 3 loaves
Calories: 204kcal
Author: Jenni


To Change to 50% Hydration

  • 20 grams 100% hydration starter
  • 80 grams flour divided
  • 40 grams water divided

Ingredients for Sweet Starter:

  • 20 g 100% hydration dough
  • 80 g flour divided
  • 40 g water divided

Ingredients for First Dough:

  • 346 g flour
  • 130 g water
  • 1 g instant yeast
  • 83 g sugar
  • 55 g egg yolk
  • 7 g diadastic malt powder
  • 83 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 86 grams sweet starter

Ingredients for Final Dough:

  • 82 g flour
  • 114 g water
  • 5 g salt
  • 82 g sugar
  • 25 g egg yolk
  • 126 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 19 g honey
  • 126 g cranberries chopped
  • 44 g crystallized ginger chopped
  • 126 g dried cherries soaked overnight in brandy, and chopped
  • zest from 1 medium orange
  • seeds scraped from 4/5 of a vanilla bean use remaining seeds for glaze

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 55 g granulated sugar
  • 3 g ground almonds
  • 4 g vegetable oil
  • 4 g corn flour
  • 4 g cocoa
  • 30 g egg whites
  • scraped seeds from 1/5 of vanilla bean


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup pearl sugar
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 20 grams 100% hydration starter
  • 80 grams flour divided
  • 40 grams water divided


To change your starter from 100% to 50% hydration:

  • Start with 20 grams of your starter. Feed it 40 grams of flour, and 20 grams of water.
  • Cover and let it sit on your counter for 10-12 hours (or until nearly doubled in size).
  • Repeat twice.

To change your starter into a Sweet Italian Starter:

  • Start with 20 grams of stiff 50% starter.
  • Feed the starter 20 grams of flour and 10 grams of water.
  • Cover and allow to ferment for 4 hours at 85F (the best way to do this, I think, is to either wrap it in a towel and place it in the oven with the light on, or to microwave one of those cherry pit heating packs and place your starter in there (don't actually let the heater pack touch your starter). )
  • Again start with 40 grams of starter, feed it 20 grams flour and 10 grams water. Cover and ferment at 85F for 4 hours.
  • For the third feeding, start with 40 grams of starter and feed it 40 grams of flour and 20 grams of water.
  • Again ferment for 4 hours.

To Make First Dough:

  • Scale out 86 grams of the sweet starter (you can discard the rest, or keep it, whichever you prefer).
  • In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the "First Dough" until just combined.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover, and let ferment at room temperature (72F) for 12 hours.

To Make Second Dough:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, salt, egg yolks, orange zest, vanilla seeds, all of the first dough, and about 1/4 of the water.
  • Mix on low speed until combined, about 5 minutes.
  • Slowly start adding the sugar, in about 5 or 6 increments, mixing for 2 minutes between additions.
  • Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and the gluten is almost fully developed.
  • Gradually add the butter to the dough, mixing for a minute in between each addition, until the butter is fully incorporated into the dough and the gluten is fully developed.
  • Add the honey and enough of the remaining water to give a very soft dough.
  • Add the cranberries, cherries, and crystallized ginger, mixing until they are evenly distributed.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled container (preferable low and wide) and cover.
  • Ferment at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Fold the dough a few times, re-cover, and ferment another 30 minutes.

Make the Skewer Molds:

  • To create the molds, take two large panettone paper molds and place two wooden grill skewers into the mold parallel to each other (see photo in post).

Shaping the Panettone:

  • Turn the dough out onto a buttered surface and divide the dough into 3 pieces and form each piece into a light ball.
  • Allow the balls to rest for 20 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into tight balls and place into the skewered molds.
  • Proof at 80F for 4-6 hours (or 12 hours at room temperature), until the dough has risen to an inch or so below the top of the molds.

Baking and Final Steps:

  • When the dough is nearly proofed, preheat the oven to 350F. (if your loaves have been proofing in the oven, PLEASE take them out before turning the oven on!!!)
  • Mix the glaze by whisking together all of the ingredients,.
  • Pour, pipe, or brush the glaze on the loaves (don't worry about pooling).
  • Sift powdered sugar over the tops, then sprinkle with pearl sugar and a few blanched almonds (If you want to leave the tops unglazed, use scissors to snip an "X" into the top of the loaf and tuck a pat of butter inside).
  • Place the loaves directly on the rack and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the tops are dark brown and the internal temperature is 185F (if the tops start to get too dark after 25-30 minutes, turn the temperature down to 325F).
  • While the panettone is baking, set up your hanging apparatus.
  • When the bread is done baking, hang them as quickly as possible.
  • Allow the panettone to hang for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 71mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g

(only very slightly adapted from Wild Yeast)

graphic for sourdough course - reads "new to sourdough? learn the skills to impress your family and friends with your sourdough baking. Click here".


  1. I can't WAIT to try this version. It looks BEAUTIFUL and I bet it tasted even better. I am so impressed!!!

  2. OMG! And I thought the Daring Baker's recipe was complex. Love that you got up every two hours in the night to check on your dough baby. Such dedication! And the crumb of your Panettone looks perfect 🙂

  3. Wow, you are truly dedicated! The final bread looks great to me…and I'm sure I would have given up on my lifeless dough at some point in your fiasco. Good work! Love your filling, too! Yum.

  4. korenainthekitchen.com says:

    Ahhhhhh Jenni you are SO BRAVE!!!!!! I wanted to make Susan's sourdough version too, but I realized I didn't have an entire week to devote to it… I have to say though, the yeast version is hardly a shortcut, lol! This is time-consuming bread no matter how you look at it, but I think the results are worth it. You probably haven't heard back from any recipients yet because they are all still bowled over by how amazing it is 😉

  5. Wow!! I thought the Daring Baker's challenge was complicated and then you go and make it the real sourdough way!! WELL DONE!

  6. Beautifully presented.
    I like that you took the sourdough route.

    Getting up in the middle of the night to check dough totally sounds like something I would do 🙂

  7. chefindisguise.com says:

    Oh my what a week Jenni!
    I usually do that myself, make plans that go horribly terribly wrong (loved the qoute by the way)
    I have two kids 3 and 8 and I know only too well how things must have been in your kitchen
    Hats off to you for not giving up and looking at the picture with the sliced bread I think the crumb looks wonderful

  8. Hi Jenni, I loved to read your post. So honest and what a great example of how determinate we get when we want decide to do something. I agree with you, the texture looks great! which means also the taste was good. and I do hope you will make panettone again. it does not need to be a nightmare that takes your sleep away 🙂 you just need to find the right recipe for you. I found mine after two attempts (one last year and one this year in November) with different recipes which just did not work for me…

  9. Marcellina says:

    I am so glad you made a sourdough version! I'm never very good at sourdough but I think yours is great. The texture of the crumb looks perfect! I'm sorry you didn't get much sleep the night!

  10. Your panettone looks outstanding Jenni, and so was your effort! I really love how that crumb turned out.
    On a side note, I'm going to pull out Deadwood and watch the whole series again. Thanks!

  11. wow, I am so impressed you went the sourdough starter route, as that would be very difficult for me. And I am doubly impressed you made a batch of them WITH a toddler around0 I know how difficult that would be as I'm going through the terrible two phase now, haha! The panettoni look absolutely stunning, Jenni,I bet the recipients were delighted.

  12. Wow, you made real sourdough panettone! I am super impressed, I thought the original recipe was hard enough! Yours look great – I wish mine got as brown as yours did.

  13. I think your efforts kind of define the Daring Baker challenges! Things didn't turn out exactly as planned, but it was an exciting experiment, right? Awesome job ^__^

  14. lisamichele says:

    What a great idea to make a sourdough version of Panettone! It looks amazing! I'd love to see your SD starter now. I'm betting 'he' has taken his first steps and can say 'Mama' by now! lol Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year!

  15. A sourdough version of panettone…yes, I love this. I love your determination and I know you feel it should've been better. But for me, they are perfect! The crumb looks incredible. Lovely Christmas bread, Jenni. Thank you for joining us for December #TwelveLoaves and happy holidays to you and your family!:)

  16. Wow Jenni, are you brave or what to try the sourdough version!! Kudos for the attempt.

4 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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