Easy Sourdough Panettone Recipe

There are so many delicious things that are made for christmas around the world. One comes from Italy but seems to have fans all over the world is the panettone. A rich and buttery bread, filled with dried fruits and candied citrus peels. The only problem, all the classic recipes take about three days to make. So here is my recipe for easy sourdough panettone.

The classic panettone is made with a pasta madre, which is a stiff sourdough starter and the dough is risen three times. This becomes very time consuming, so I decided to make my own easier version, but still using a starter and not using yeast.

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The history of panettone

Panettone is a sweet loaf of bread that originates from Milan in Italy.

It is traditionally eaten at Christmas and New Years in Western, Southern and South Eastern Europe. It seems to be gaining traction all over the world.

The word panettone stems from the italian word paneto which means small loaf cake. The suffix -one has been added so that the word means “large cake”.

Super easy sourdough panettone in front of a brick wall

Early versions of the panettone date as far back as the 1200’s, but they were probably not anything like the versions we know today.

In the early 1900’s two Milanese baker’s helped propel the panettone into international stardom, by making it super fluffy using a special 3 rise technique.

The two baker’s companies have since been taken over by a worldwide conglomerate, but has been repurchased by an Italian company.

I’m not sure what that means for the factory made panettone, but as always I will say that you should make you own. Then you know exactly what goes into it.

The formula in this easy sourdough panettone recipe

The classic home preparation of a panettone uses a pasta madre, which is a stiff starter. I’ve opted to skip this step and add some sugar to the dough. Also make sure your starter is well-fed before making the levain to make sure it’s not sour at all.

This is the formula for the levain:

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
50gstarter (100% hydration)100.0%
50gbread flour100.0%

The dough itself is an enriched dough with milk, eggs and butter for an excellent soft crumb and a delicious butter smell and taste.

The butter content is pretty high sitting at a little over 55%, but not exorbitant like my Blueberry Swirl Brioche Bread.

The formula for the dough looks like this:

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
450gbread flour100.0%

If you want to change the recipe, you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

Easy sourdough panettone crispy crust with pearl sugar

This recipe was made for a panettone paper mold of 18 cm diameter and 12 cm tall.

If you have a different size mould you can calculate what size dough you need:


Panettone – The versatile snack

The panettone is a great snack. It can be eaten all day:

  • For breakfast with your favorite preparation of coffee or a wonderful breakfast tea
  • As a midday snack with a glass of marsala wine.
  • Served as an after dinner treat with a wonderful Italian sparkling wine.
  • Any time of day, toasted and slathered in a wonderful cultured salted butter… Yum!

Maybe it’s the best snack ever? You be the judge.

The conclusion of this easy sourdough panettone recipe

While it doesn’t have the well known “pull apart” texture of a panettone, which in many ways remind me of a Hokkaido Milk Bread, the texture is wonderful, soft and butter-rich.

The plump raisins and sultanas and candied citrus peels are scattered evenly throughout the crumb, and are like finding little nuggets of deliciousness when you you eat it.

Super easy sourdough panettone recipe with a slice cut out showing the gorgeous and fluffy crumb

The top is caramelised with a crispy crunch from the added sugar and with pearl sugar that is unmelted on top adding some sweetness and texture to the loaf.

This is a wonderful bread that can be eaten on any sunday afternoon with a cup of coffee or a glass of Italian sparkling wine.

This is going to be one that I will bring for Christmas eve this year. It’s really wonderful.

Please share on social media

This is my recipe for an easy sourdough panettone. I hope you will try to make it because it is absolutely delicious.

If you make it and post to Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk. That would make me very happy.

Ad links! The links in the recipe for ingredients or tools are affiliate links, which means that I get commission if you purchase the product!

Easy Sourdough Panettone

Course: Desert, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: enriched dough, panettone, sourdough, sourdough panettone
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 1 hour
Proofing: 6 hours
Total: 18 hours
Servings: 1 panettone
Calories: 4119kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Easy Sourdough Panettone
Amount Per Serving (1 panettone)
Calories 4119 Calories from Fat 2115
% Daily Value*
Fat 235g362%
Saturated Fat 138g863%
Cholesterol 1363mg454%
Sodium 7957mg346%
Potassium 943mg27%
Carbohydrates 408g136%
Fiber 12g50%
Sugar 36g40%
Protein 93g186%
Vitamin A 7533IU151%
Calcium 335mg34%
Iron 8mg44%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Panettone is a classic Italian christmas bread. The regular version is quite cumbersome, so I've created this recipe which gets you a wonderful, fluffy panettone in less than 24 hours.
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  • 50 g sourdough starter 100% hydration
  • 50 g bread flour
  • 50 g water


  • 450 g bread flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 150 g levain
  • 60 g milk
  • 30 g sugar
  • 15 g salt
  • 250 g butter


  • 50 g dark raisins
  • 50 g sultanas
  • 50 g candied orange peel
  • 50 g candied lemon peel
  • 3 tbsp Cointreu orange juice for an alcohol free alternative

Egg wash


Make levain – morning

  • Add 50g sourdough starter, 50g bread flour and 50g water to a see-through container with straight sides. Mix well.
  • Leave to ferment, covered in a warm place. Once it has grown to the double the size you need to mix the dough.

Mix the dough – around noon

  • Add 450g bread flour, 150g levain, 4 eggs, 30g sugar, 15g salt and 60g milk to a bowl.
  • Put your index and long finger in the middle of the dough and start moving it in circles, for each revolution make the circle a little bigger so you get more and more flour into the fluids,.
  • Once that gets difficult put the dough on the kitchen counter and knead it until it comes together.
  • Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes under a damp dish towel.

Bulk fermentation – around 12:30/12.30 p.m

  • Perform four sets of stretch and folds spaced out by 30 minutes.
  • After the fourth set of stretch and folds, perform a windowpane test to check the gluten development. If it doesn't pass perform one more stretch and fold and let the dough rest for 30 minutes and test again.
  • Once the windowpane passes, take the 250g butter out of the refrigerator and cube it.
  • Add 50g raisins and 50g sultanas to a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of Cointreu or orange juice. Top with warm water until they are submerged.
  • Rest the dough for 30 minutes.

Add butter, dried and candied fruits

  • Now it's time to add the butter. Put a small handful of cubes on the dough and start to push it and massage it into the dough. Keep going until you cannot feel any lumps anymore. Then add another handful. Repeat until you have added all the butter.
  • After you've added the butter tease the dough out into a rectangle and add half of the the raisins, sultanas, candied orange peel and candied lemon peel.
  • Fold the dough down by a third, and then up by a third.
  • Turn the dough 90° and tease it out a bit.
  • Add the rest of the dried and candied fruits and fold it up.
  • Knead the dough by hand until the fruits feel completely dispersed.

Shaping and proofing

  • Form the dough to a boule and add it to the panettone mould.
  • Then cover the mould with a piece of cling film and let it proof until the top of the dough is at the top of the mould.

Bake the bread

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4.
  • Beat 1 egg with 1 tbsp milk.
  • Brush the panettone lightly with the egg wash.
  • Sprinkle with cane sugar and pearl sugar to get a crispy crust.
  • Bake for about 95 minutes or until the inner temperature reaches 98°C/208ºF.
  • If the panettone starts to get too brown during baking cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Once the panetton is out of the oven stick wooden or metal skewers through the panettone in each side. About 2½ cm/1 inch from the bottom and hang it upside down until completely cooled.


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