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Pandoro bread with exposed crumb on white cloth and golden brown background

Pandoro - Italian Sweet Bread

Pandoro is a golden holiday bread, plain but with a wonderful flavor and texture. It's enriched with eggs and butter so you know it will be delicious. It's a favorite around here to give as a gift and it makes great bread pudding. 

  • Total Time: 4 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings



For the sponge:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose or bread flour

For the first dough:

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour (see Notes for alternative)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the second dough:

  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Reserved flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract also works)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Extra all-purpose flour for kneading (if necessary)
  • Powdered sugar, to serve (if you have vanilla powdered sugar much better)


For the sponge:

  1. In the bowl of the electric mixer, stir the yeast into the water and stir. 
  2. Add sugar and flour and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  3. Let stand, covered with plastic wrap, until bubbly and foamy, about 30 minutes.

For the first dough:

  1. Measure 2 ½ cups of the flour (that will be used for this part), and reserve remaining for the second dough.
  2. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer with the paddle. 
  3. Stir the water with the yeast in a small bowl. 
  4. Add to the yeast mixture together with the sugar, and eggs. 
  5. Start the mixer at low speed.
  6. Add the flour to the sponge by half cups. Mix with the paddle attachment until combined.
  7. Add the soft butter, one piece at a time, and beat at medium speed until well blended and the butter has dissolved. It will be thick and maybe a little stiff.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rest until doubled, about 45 minutes.

For the second dough:

  1. Add eggs, yolk, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest to the first dough and beat with the paddle attachment until it's all well integrated.
  2. Change to the dough hook.
  3. Gradually add the softened butter and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Add the reserved flour and salt in ½ cup additions.
  5. Knead for 10 minutes at medium speed. The dough should be soft and buttery. It should not clean the sides of the bowl completely, but add up to ½ cup more flour if the dough is still too wet and pools in the bottom and sides like a thick cake batter.
  6. Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place until doubled in volume, anywhere between 1 to 2 hours.
  7. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface and, with floured hands, deflate first and then gather it to make a loose ball. The dough should be soft and elastic, sticky but easy to work with. 
  8. Shape into a loose ball and place in a well-buttered pandoro pan (see Notes for alternatives), cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled, between 1 to 2 hours.
  9. Preheat oven 30 minutes before baking to 350º F /180ºC.
  10. Bake pandoro bread for 20 minutes on the middle oven shelf.
  11. Reduce oven temperature to 300ºF/150ºC and continue baking for another 30 minutes. The top should be brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. If the top is too dark cover loosely with aluminum foil. If unsure, insert a cake tester; it should come out clean with no wet crumbs attached. 
  12. Let cool on a wire rack and remove from pan.
  13. Dust with powdered vanilla sugar and shake inside a cellophane bag before serving.


Organization: read the recipe and take into account the resting times. There's little hands-on work, but there are several hours where the bread will be proofing and growing. It's important to allow the yeast to do its job at its own pace. 

Yeast: any type can be used. Be careful when using the instant or one of those fast-rising ones as they usually leaven faster than the time frames given in this recipe. 

Vanilla sugar: it can be bought online like Dr. Oetker Vanilla Sugar or Alsa Vanilla Flavored Sugar. You can make your own by adding some vanilla beans to a jar of powdered sugar. Or, easier than the latter, mix powdered sugar with some Pure Vanilla powder, which will instantly flavor the sugar. 

Flavoring: you can add some chopped candied lemon or orange, and orange zest, but I think the beauty of it resides in its clean unassuming appearance and the extraordinary flavor that you discover when you take a bite.

Flour: all-purpose works very well, but you can also use half bread flour and half cake flour. They both do their own thing so the bread will have texture and also softness. 

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 240
  • Cook Time: 50
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: kneading + baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1/12
  • Calories: 361
  • Sugar: 11.7 g
  • Sodium: 124.7 mg
  • Fat: 13.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 50.5 g
  • Protein: 8.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 107.5 mg

Keywords: pandoro bread