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Pandoro with Sourdough Yeast Traditional Italian Christmas Cake.

This  Pandoro recipe final results
This Pandoro recipe final results

Pandoro with sourdough yeast Quick Overview

This Pandoro with sourdough yeast is one of those recipes where Sourdough Yeast is used at its best because the long raising produces a lovely and very digestible product. Pandoro can also be made using brewer's yeast (which is faster), but I prefer sourdough.

Difficulty level: Very Difficult

Type of Food: Italian Chrismas Pudding/Dessert

Suitable For: NA

Preparation Time: 2 days

Cooking Time: 45-55 '

Serving: 10


The Pandoro with sourdough yeast is laborious and requires some skills and almost three days to make, but the result will be worth all the effort needed to make one of the most traditional Italian Christmas cakes. In this introduction, I wish to thank the author of the original recipe, "Raffaele Pignataro," from which this has been adapted to suit my taste.

Ingredients for the Pandoro with sourdough yeast dough

Full Strenght SOURDOUGH Yeast

If you don't have sourdough yeast and don't wish to buy it, you must start by making your own one month before you plan to bake. Here is the recipe for the one I made for mine. 

For the first dough

  • 2.5 g Malt 40 g

  • Water 40 g

  • Sugar 90 g

  • Egg yolks (5 ... 6)

  • 10 g Milk powder

  •  (optional) 8 g White chocolate

  • 117 g Butter, 82% fat

For the second dough

  • all the dough 1

  • 120 g Manitoba-type strong flour(I used Petra I - W350)

  • 2.5 g Malt

  • 40 g Water

  • 40 g Sugar

  • 90 g Egg yolks (5 ... 6)

  • 10 g Milk powder(This is optional)

  • 8 g White chocolate(This is optional)

  • 117 g Butter 82% fat(Soft to ointment)

  • 15 g Aroma emulsion

  • 1.5 g Salt

For the Ointment

  •  15 g Aroma emulsion

  • 1.5 g Salt Aromas'

  • 10 g Orange juice

  • 15 g Acacia honey,

  • one vanilla bean

  • one grated orange peel

For the decoration of your pandoro

  • Confectionary sugar

And now, here are a few things to remember before making your Pandoro with sourdough yeast.

The Sourdough must be very active; if yours is not, start by feeding it a few days before you begin the process. I recommend at least three consecutive refreshments every three hours to bring the sourdough yeast to its maximum strength; this is an indispensable step for this tremendously leavened product.

Solid sourdough yeast tripled its size in six hours
Solid sourdough yeast tripled its size in six hours

Timings for this Pandoro with sourdough yeast

  • In the morning, remove your sourdough yeast from the refrigerator (where I usually keep mine). After a couple of hours, proceed with the first feed. Take the amount you plan to use and put the rest back in the fridge (for instructions on how to feed your sourdough, click Here). Then, feed the rest twice, once every three hours.

  • At this point, your sourdough yeast should easily triple its size at the last feed.

  • In the evening, proceed with the first dough. The ingredients are listed in the order they MUST be incorporated into the dough in the list above. Leave the dough to rest covered till morning.

  • In the morning, prepare the second dough, making it into balls of the size you want your Pandoro with sourdough yeast to be (the process is called Pirlatura in Italian). Leave them to rise for +/- an hour before you put them in the mould; let them rise until the dough raises three times its initial size. In the evening, you should be ready to bake them (remember to pre-hit the oven).

Here are the necessary steps to make the Pandoro with sourdough yeast dough


NOTE: If, for any reason, it becomes too late and the dough isn't tripled in size, I would suggest covering the moulds and putting them in the fridge to avoid it rising too much overnight and seeing where you are in the morning.


Making the first Pandoro with sourdough yeast Dough:

  • Dissolve the sugar in the correct amount of cold water and mix well until it becomes syrup. Pour the syrup into the mixer on which the leaf hook (or K) has been mounted, start at low speed, and add the sourdough in small pieces until completely dissolved.

  • At this point, begin adding the flour that has been sieved. When the dough has taken a sure consistency (you should see it becoming elastic and start bending around the hock), begin adding the eggs' yolks; this is an operation to be done in several stages and very slowly, in practice divide them by eye into three doses and slowly add them, each time waiting for the previous dose to be absorbed by the dough before proceeding with the next dose.

  • Once the dough has taken shape, you can add the ointment butter. In this phase, you can verify that everything is proceeding regularly by making the veil test; in practice, it is a question of taking and stretching a piece of dough, which will have to form a thin veil. If everything is OK, add the butter; otherwise, continue to knead.

  • At the end, add the salt and slightly increase the speed.

The gluten start forming
The gluten starts forming


Important Notes and Tips to ensure a good Pandoro with sourdough yeast:

Ointment butter is soft but not liquefied or warm, as it will heat the dough with severe consequences.

For the eggs' yolks, divide the whole amount into three doses and add each at a time, waiting until the previous dose has been absorbed before proceeding with the next dose.

Make sure not to overwork the dough, or it will hit and break the glutinous net (which supports the Pandoro structure), resulting in a disaster; you can place the dough in a bowl with cling film (I use dough rising trays) and let it rise, perhaps at an optimal temperature of 25 ... 26 ° C where it will have to remain until it has tripled its volume (from 8 to 16 hours depending on the environment temperature).

Don't rush; if the first dough hasn't tripled its volume, you must wait to prevent the whole process from being compromised.

Your kitchen oven is a great raising chamber. Turning the oven light on creates a temperature between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius, perfect for Pandoro with sourdough yeast.


Making the second Pandoro with sourdough yeast dough:

  • Add to the Pandoro with sourdough yeast First-Dough and subsequentially all the ingredients listed under the second dough list, in the following order: Sugar and water mixed with syrup, flour and malt and knead until absorbed, then proceed with the egg yolks, also in this case in three times, in practice divide them by eye into three doses and slowly let them flow down, each time wait until the dough has absorbed the previous dose before proceeding with the next dose. Gluten mesh veil.

  • Also, in this case, the veil test is possible. If everything is okay, add the powdered milk slowly, and once absorbed, the white chocolate made liquid by bain-marie.

  • Once this is also absorbed, it is the turn of the ointment butter, as for the previous mixture, three times, and it is taken care to wait until the last dose has been absorbed before proceeding with the next dose.

  • And finally, the flavouring emulsion and salt. Increase the speed and bring everything to string. If you want to learn more about Gluten and its workings, I found this blog article very good. Pandoro leavening; turn the dough upside down on a waterproof surface lightly greased with a layer of butter, grease your hands, and proceed with the pirlatura. Leave to rest for 1 hour, cook again, and put it in the metal mould lightly greased with butter. Cover it with cling film and let it rise at an optimal temperature of 24/26 ° C. for 5 ... 6 hours and, in any case, up to 1 cm from the edge.

  • With the dough leavened (1 cm from the edge) turn on the oven to bring it to temperature and in the meantime uncover it from the cling film so that it can take in air and thus form a light skin on the surface.

The amount of dough to go on the Pandoro mold
The amount of dough to go on the Pandoro mold

The Pandoro dough must reach about 1 finger from the edge of the mold to be ready to be backed
The Pandoro dough must reach about 1 finger from the edge of the mold to be ready to be backed

Baking your Pandoro with sourdough yeast

  • Pandoro with sourdough yeast cooking Temperature 175 ° degrees Cooking time 55 minutes (+/-) Use the lowest shelf inside the oven.

  • Bake your Pandoro with sourdough yeast in a preheated static oven according to the size chosen and the type of oven you have. For example, 50 minutes is more than enough with my ventilated one.

  • An issue I faced was that the only way to be sure a Pandoro was properly cooked was to have a probe thermometer stuck in the middle; it is cooked when the heart reaches 94° C.

  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave in the mould to cool for at least 1 hour.

  • Turn over and unmold. It tastes best the next day and even better after a few days, as long as you can resist. :) On top of it, add a good dose of vanilla-flavoured confectionary sugar. If you don't find it, you can use icing sugar; however, it tastes better with confectionary sugar.

Here my Pandoro ready to be gifted :)
Here my Pandoro ready to be gifted :)

Here is some additional info on this Pandoro with sourdough yeast recipe

If your oven is hotter on the top, you can place aluminium foil on the mould to protect it from burns on the surface.

Never open the oven before at least 35 minutes of cooking have elapsed.

For longer shelf life, close the pandoro in one of those food bags or cellophane for food, but before closing, spray a little ethyl alcohol for food which will avoid any mould due to the humidity of the product. I have never gone beyond 15 days, for which you don't need to put anything, but with a splash of spirit (a friend of mine added Strega), you can reach a shelf life of 30/40 days.

High-quality ingredients, especially butter (unsalted Lurpak butter), are essential to achieve optimal results.

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