Pandoro, a close relation to Italy’s most famous Christmas bread, panettone, is an egg and butter-rich bread baked in a traditional star-shaped pan.
The biga (starter) helps keep it fresh right through the 12 days of Christmas!
SERVING: Makes 1 loaf
Biga: (The Starter)
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick/2 oz/56g) butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil or 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 cup golden raisins, slivered apricots or dried fruit of your choice
- Garnish (optional)
- Confectioners’ sugar
The Biga (starter):
- Combine the flour, water and yeast, mix till fairly smooth, and allow to rest, covered, overnight.
- Next day, add the dough ingredients to the biga, mixing and then kneading — by hand, mixer or bread machine until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.
- Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour.
- Round the dough into a ball, and transfer it to a lightly greased pandoro* pan.
- Allow it to rise, covered, for 2 hours, or until it’s nearly level with the top of the pan.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Bake the bread in preheated oven for about 40 minutes, tenting it loosely with aluminum foil for the final 15 minutes.
- Remove it from the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes, then gently remove it from the pan.
- When cool, sprinkle the bread with confectioners’ sugar, and serve it, sliced, with mascarpone cheese, if desired.