Classic Italian panettone using sourdough: the traditional recipe


Panettone is certainly one of the most symbolic sweets of an Italian Christmas. Its preparation is undoubtedly complex, but its success makes all the effort worthwhile. This recipe requires the use of a high performing flour: we suggest our type “00” Sebòn Panettone pâtisserie flour, ideal for all large leavened sweet-loaves such as Panettone, Pandoro and Colomba. This flour is milled from a high protein grain, which gives it strength and high leavening potential.

Making Panettone in the traditional manner, requires the use of a particularly strong sourdough, as we explain in our article dedicated to the preservation and refreshment of starters.

Preparing a classic Italian Panettone using a sourdough requires several hours. In this traditional recipe, in addition to describing the procedure, we also suggest the time of the day at which each main process should be carried out.

The following recipe produces 20 panettones of 1 kg each.

If you would like to prepare the panettone at home, just divide the doses by 10 to get 2 panettones of 1 kg each, and use a small bag of our type “00” Sebòn Panettone flour.


Classic Italian panettone: the first dough

We suggest making the first panettone dough in the evening.

Ingredients for the first dough

  • 5 kg type “00” Sebòn Panettone flour
  • 2.5 kg water
  • 1.2 kg strong sourdough (about three hours after the third refreshment)
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 kg egg yolks
  • 1.5 kg butter

Making the first dough

First, whip the sugar and the water together and then add the flour. Mix in the sourdough, which must be strong, then add the egg yolks a little at a time, taking care that the dough does not split. Finally, add the butter, softening it slightly if necessary (Figure 1).

first dough panettone
Figure 1: Adding the butter in the first phase of mixing.


This phase takes from 20 to 25 minutes when using a spiral mixer and a few minutes more with a plunger mixer.

After the first mixing phase, place the dough in a container, cover it with a nylon cloth and leave it to rise at a temperature of 26-28°C. Over the course of twelve hours, the dough will increase to one and a half times its initial volume. N.B. The top of the dough must never touch the cloth covering it. The top of the dough must reach approximately level 3 as shown in the image below (Figure 2).

panettone dough
Figure 2: On the left, the appearance of the dough at the end of the first mixing, and on the right, the dough at the beginning of the leavening process.


Classic Italian panettone: the second dough

Since the first dough, started in the evening, takes about twelve hours to rise, the second panettone dough should be made the following morning.

Ingredients for the second dough

  • All the first dough (12.2 kg)
  • 1.2 kg type “00” Sebòn Panettone flour
  • 80 g salt
  • 1.2 kg egg yolks
  • 1.5 kg sugar
  • 400 g flavouring, the preparation of which will be described later in the recipe
  • 2 kg butter
  • 1 kg water approx. (to be measured by evaluating the absorption and consistency of the dough)
  • 1.8 kg raisins (soaked the previous day)
  • 1.8 kg candied orange peel
  • 900 g candied citron peel

Making the second dough

First the structure and strength needs to be restored to the first dough by putting it in the mixer and adding all the flour and the salt for the second dough. After this initial phase, the mass should look like the photo below (Figure 3).

panettone second dough
Figure 3: The initial phase of the second dough.


Gradually add the egg yolks and the sugar alternately, making sure that the dough remains stringy. Add the flavouring prepared the previous day (see how later in the recipe), and the butter, slightly softened if necessary (Figure 4).

aroma panettone
Figure 4: Adding the flavouring to the second dough.


Now add the water until the dough reaches the proper consistency, taking care that the panettone dough remains stringy. We suggest adding 200g of water at a time, adding it all if necessary, but without exceeding 1kg. To understand if the dough is properly hydrated, evaluate its stringiness, gloss and stretchability. The images below give an idea of the appearance and consistency that the dough should have at the end of this second phase (Figure 5).

panettone dough
Figure 5: The dough at the end of the second phase of mixing, after the water has been added but before the insertion of the dried fruit.


Finally add the dried fruit, namely the raisins, the candied orange and candied citron peel.

The second phase of mixing the panettone lasts about 35-40 minutes.

Leave the dough to rise for about one and a half hours in a container covered with a nylon cloth, at a temperature of 26-28°C.

To obtain 1kg panettones, divide the dough into 1.1kg pieces (10% more than the weight of the panettone after cooking)

Roll each piece into a compact ball and leave to rise and form a skin for about twenty minutes on the work surface.

Taking care not to tear the surface of the dough, roll the balls around again before placing them into the paper moulds.

Leave each panettone to rise until it is one centimetre from the top of the mould if you are using low-sided moulds, or 2 cm from the top if you are using high-sided moulds, for about 5/6 hours at a temperature of 26-28°C.

Once risen cut a cross into the top of the panettone, and add a knob of butter to the centre of the cut, as shown in the image below (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Before cooking the panettone, note the cross cut in the top with a knob of butter in the centre.


Bake the panettones at 165°C for 50 minutes or until the centre reaches 94°C. In the case of smaller panettones, slightly increase the temperature and reduce the cooking time.

Once out of the oven, skewer the panettones in the lower part of the mould and turn them over to cool.

Pack 12 hours after the end of cooking.


Not just raisins, orange and citron peel…

If it is true that the classic Italian panettone is made with raisins, candied orange and citron peel, it is equally true that there is no limit to the creativity one can use in enriching one’s recipe with new ingredients and flavours. To obtain a balanced recipe and not spoil the dough by weighing it down too much, you should follow these simple rules:

  • If only raisins and candied peel are to be used, do not add more than 25% of the total weight of the dough.
  • If semi-candied fruit or chocolate are to be used, for example a panettone with chocolate and pears, do not add more than 10% of the total weight of the dough
  • If both candied fruit, chocolate and semi-candied fruit are to be used at the same time, the total can reach 25% of the total weight of the dough, provided that the semi-candied fruit and chocolate does not exceed 10%.

At this point indulge yourself by inventing a combination that will make your panettone truly unique!


Flavouring for traditional Italian panettone: the recipe

To give the panettone its characteristic flavour, it is advisable to prepare the following mixture 24 hours before mixing it into the dough.

Ingredients for the flavouring

  • 400g honey (40g for the preparation two panettones)
  • zest of 5 organic oranges (zest of 1 organic orange for the preparation of two panettones)
  • zest of 2 organic lemons (zest of 1 organic lemon for the preparation of two panettones)
  • 2 vanilla pods (1 vanilla pod for the preparation of two panettones)

Method for the preparation of the flavouring

Grate the zest of the citrus fruit and add it to the honey together with the seeds from the vanilla pods. Stir the mixture together and let it rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours.


  • Would you like to make this recipe?

We recommend you do this using our type “00” Sebòn Panettone flour that you can find in the section dedicated to the best flours for pâtisserie. In our online shop you will find type “00” Sebòn Panettone flour in small sizes.

  • Are you a pastry chef?

Contact us to learn more about our flours and to request a free trial sample.