Similar to panettone in its sweet yeastiness, pandoro (“golden cake”) is also known as a Christmastime treat. With its long preparation time, special star-shaped mold, and tall stature, it is a bit of a challenge to make at home, but worth the effort. Traditionally, pandoro is flavored with lemon zest or citron, but here we used orange zest.
Special equipment: Star-shaped pandoro molds can be found at specialty kitchen stores or online.
Game plan: Some ovens come with a “proof” setting; if yours does, set it to 90°F. A consistently warm environment will help the dough rise more quickly.
This recipe was featured as part of our Christmas Day Feast, Italian Style menu, as well as our DIY Holiday Gifts Advent Calendar.
- Yield: 8 to 10 servings
- Difficulty: Hard
- Total: 5 hrs 50 mins
- Active: 35 mins
For the starter:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 110°F)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 large egg yolk
For the cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature and cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon orange zest
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream
- Toasted, slivered almonds
For the starter:
- Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk gently to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
For the cake:
- Coat a large bowl with butter; set aside.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the starter and, using the hook attachment on a stand mixer, mix on low until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 3 of the egg yolks, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is sticky and stringy, about 3 to 5 minutes more.
- Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Clean the mixer bowl.
- Gently place risen dough in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining 3 egg yolks, the whole egg, salt, vanilla, and zest. Turn the mixer to low and, using the hook attachment, knead until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add remaining half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 pieces at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is sticky and stringy, about 5 to 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, coat a large bowl with butter. Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Thoroughly coat a 9-cup pandoro mold with 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter using a pastry brush. Sift flour into the mold to evenly coat, then tap out the excess (make sure to get all of the corners to prevent any sticking).
- Remove the risen dough from the bowl and transfer to the prepared mold (the dough should fill the pan about halfway). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot until the dough is about a 1/2 inch from the top of the pan, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the lower third.
- Bake the pandoro for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F and bake until the pandoro is dark golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes more.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 1 hour.
- When the cake has cooled completely, turn it upside down and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve with Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream and toasted almonds.