Panettone with Limoncello


I am not a huge fan of traditional Christmas cake so I decided to give panettone – the traditional Italian Christmas cake, a try.  For me, I find the traditional cake a little too heavy, too fruity and too boozy (you probably think I am mad for not enjoying these things in a cake!). The super sweet marzipan and heavy icing are needed to compliment the richness of the cake and I just find them all a little too excessive.


Make way for the panettone! On the contrary, this type of light, sweet bread loaf is enjoyed on mainland Europe and South America during Christmas and the New Year. Typically it contains raisins with zest of citrus fruits and candied peel. I wanted to recreate this light, fluffy delight with purely candied peel, homemade candied lemon and limoncello for a truly zingy, lemon treat.


Having researched many recipes, this recipe is fairly straightforward and does not require any overnight proofing for a great result. If you are new to bread, or enriched dough, this may seem a little time consuming (not in intense ‘kitchen hours’) but in returning to carry out tasks. If you fancy the challenge and get excited by how dough reacts (I’m sure I am not the only one out there) – this one gets incredibly elastic, stringy and lucid, then definitely give this panettone a try.


This quantity makes two panettone (the cases measured 16cm diameter). I used special panettone waxed paper cases but you could use tins or moulds. Just ensure they have high sides – this doughy delight is meant to be tall. I also used panettone extract which consists of essential oils of bergamot, orange, lemon, tangerine and vanilla. This adds to my citrusy panettone but you could used lemon, or vanilla, extract instead.


I am no authority on the subject, but here are a few of my observations for making panettone (based on making this twice!):

Tip No.1 Do not overfill your case/tin. Do not underestimate how much this dough will rise. It will rise on the second proving in the panettone case/tin and again during the baking process.

Tip No.2 Cover the panettone with foil after the first 15 minutes of baking otherwise the top will bake too much.

Tip No.3 Invert the panettone as soon it comes out of the oven to cool. I did this by passing two wooden skewers  through the bottom of the cake and hanging it upside between two containers. Allow to cool completely this way as it prevents the crust from sinking and helps retain the intended shape. If you use mini panettone or muffin cases, you do not need to do this. If you use a tin, allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tin, then remove and invert on a cooling rack.

Tip No.4 Wrap in plastic and foil for storage.

Enjoy this with a sweet liqueur, such as amaretto, or a thick Italian Hot Chocolate as I did (it was the middle of the afternoon after all). I think this is a great, sophisticated bake to start your seasonal baking. Wrap in cellophane and it will make a lovely gift…


Panettone with Limoncello

Makes 2 loaves (approx. 16cm diameter)


  • 75ml warm water
  • 20g instant active yeast (10g, then 10g)
  • 600g plain flour (100g, then 500g)
  • 115ml whole milk, warm
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs plus 3 egg yolks (2 yolks, then 1 for egg wash)
  • 1 teaspoon panettone extract (or lemon extract)
  • 6 tbsp. limoncello
  • 165g unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 300g candied peel
  • 50g homemade candied lemon peel (see separate post)
  • 1 orange, zest finely grated
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 1 tbsp. double cream
  • sprinkling of sugar nibs (optional)


  1. If using the homemade candied lemon peel, make this first, ideally a day ahead. If not, substitute for a further 50g of ready-bought candied peel.
  2. Pour the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle 10g (half of the overall quantity) of yeast over the water. Stir with a fork until it dissolves. Set aside for 10 minutes to stand and once it starts to foam, add 100g of flour and mix with the fork. You should have a thick paste. Cover with food wrap and allow to prove for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, pour the warm milk into another bowl and again sprinkle the remaining yeast over it. Once again, stir with a fork to dissolve. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  4. In a further bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, 2 yolks, panettone (or lemon) extract and limoncello. Add the milk - yeast mixture and whisk.
  5. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, mix the butter, salt and flour until it becomes a sandy consistency. Add the egg mixture and beat until smooth. Now add the proved water-yeast mixture and beat on high speed for about 10 minutes. The dough will become very elastic and stringy. Add the candied peel and citrus zest and mix until well combined. Tip the dough into a buttered bowl, cover and allow to prove for about two hours.
  6. If you are using tins or moulds, butter them thoroughly at this point. If you are using waxed paper cases as I have done, there is no need.
  7. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust the top with flour so that the dough is not too sticky in the division process. Divide the dough equally in two. Place dough portions in each case and allow to prove for another hour at least.
  8. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, or gas mark 5. Once proved, brush the tops of the panettone with the egg wash - the egg yolk and double cream beaten together. With a pair of scissors, cut a cross on the top of the dough. The dough will deflate at this stage but it will rise again nicely during the baking process. Sprinkle with sugar nibs (optional).
  9. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 170 degrees C, or gas mark 3 for a further 40 minutes. If the panettone are browning too quickly on top, cover with foil. To test to see if they are baked properly, tap the base. If you have a hollow sound, they are ready.
  10. Remove from the oven. You will need to invert the panettone for the cooling process. This prevents the crust from sinking into the light structure of the loaf. If you are using paper cases, take two skewers and pierce them through the bottom of the cake and rest on two containers. If you are using tins, allow to cool in the tins for about 15 minutes, then remove and place upside down on a wire cooling rack.
  11. Store at room temperature and wrap in food wrap and foil to keep them fresh.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart’s ‘Baking Handbook’




Pumpkin and Ginger Whoopie Pies

pumpkinwhoopies-2So I was planning on sharing these Pumpkin and Ginger Whoopie Pies with you closer to Halloween but I am so pleased with how they turned out, that I couldn’t resist posting them now.

The Whoopie Pie is a US baked good that is made of two rounds of flavoured cake, with a sweet creamy filling, or frosting, sandwiched between them. They are very easy to make and freeze well so can be made ahead of time.

pumpkinwhoopies-1You can use fresh, or tinned, pureed pumpkin. I have used the tinned version which is readily available in most supermarkets all year round. It is a lot less messy and time consuming than preparing the fresh pumpkin and, in my mind, has a great flavour.


I have adapted this recipe slightly by way of altering the spice content in the actual pie, and the cream cheese frosting. I have included cinnamon, all spice and ground ginger although I reduced the ginger content in the batter mix as I wanted to enhance the cream cheese frosting by adding syrupy, diced stem ginger. This gives the pie a real ‘kick’ of warmth amongst the sweet cream cheese frosting. My goodness, is this frosting delicious? (So much so, I made another cake just so that I could make this frosting again).

pumpkinwhoopies-1-3So who would like these Whoopie Pies? Basically everyone!

The ginger in them makes them a real grown up indulgent treat around Halloween and Bonfire Night. You could offer up mini ones to the children, perhaps with less stem ginger in the frosting, or you could leave it out completely and substitute for 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste / extract.

The fact that the cake can be frozen makes them perfect for parties, or large gatherings as they defrost quickly and are easy to assemble. Then again, you don’t need the excuse of a party to make these. They go perfectly with a cup of tea…


Pumpkin and Ginger Whoopie Pies

Make 9 large, or 24 mini pies


  • 280g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 200g soft dark brown sugar
  • 115ml vegetable oil
  • 250g pumpkin puree, fresh or tinned
  • 65ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • For the Frosting
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 55g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 115g cream cheese
  • 40g diced stem ginger in syrup


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, all the spices and the salt and mix thoroughly.
  2. In a separate bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixer, mix together the sugar, vegetable oil, pumpkin and milk until well blended and smooth. Whisk in the egg.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Cover the bowl with food wrap and chill for approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. On two baking trays, lined with parchment, pipe, or spoon equal amounts of the mixture into rounds (small or large), depending on your required size of pie. Remember to allow for space around each pie as they will spread during the baking process. For large whoopies, bake for 10-12 minutes and for smaller ones, 8-10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little on the baking trays and then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
  6. Either frost and assemble the Whoopie Pies, or freeze in a large plastic container, layer with baking parchment to prevent sticking and frost at a later date.
  7. For the Frosting
  8. Whip the butter until light and fluffy using and electric whisk for freestanding mixer. Add the cream cheese and whip further. Sift the icing sugar into a separate bowl and then slowly add to the butter and cream cheese mixture. Once the mixture is light and fluffy, add the syrupy, diced stem ginger and mix well.
  9. Use immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container.
  10. To assemble the Whoopie Pie, pipe or spoon a sufficient quantity of frosting onto one flat side of the pie. Form a sandwich with a second pie. Optional - dust with icing sugar. Serve.

Source: Slightly adapted from Claire Ptak’s ‘The Whoopie Pie Book’