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’





  1. Excellent recipe Joanne! The texture looks great! Thanks for broadening our choice!
    I am not a fan of heavy Christmas pudding or fruit cake either, and I barely eat panettone, for the same reason, though I do love all sorts of nuts! Im trying out a new recipe without yeast, we shall see how it comes out…

  2. Holy moly, I’m swooning! That interior looks so soft and fluffy! I never imagined making panettone at home but you’ve opened up my eyes to the possibilities. Love the lemon flavors throughout. Thanks for sharing your tips. It really looks sensational (and I love the thick hot chocolate with it, of course)!

    • thecontentedbaker says:

      Thank you Monica. This bake was very satisfying to achieve and the hot chocolate addition, to be honest, was a bit of an after thought. One I am very happy with though 🙂

  3. You’re definitely not alone! I love the challenge of any yeasted bread and seeing how it all reacts! This came out gorgeous – so fluffy! Bread gets me every time : )

  4. Seriously impressed that you have pulled this off so beautifully! It never even occurred to me to bake my own panettone (I think i was intimidated by the size!). Christmas bake-off at work is beckoning though and I’m thinking this could be a great entry did you get the panettone cases online?

    • thecontentedbaker says:

      Thank you Amy. Don’t be daunted by the size – you could always bake muffin sized ones, bag up and give as gifts. Trust me, a large one will get eaten too! I bought my cases and the panettone extract from a brilliant artisan baking company – Good luck in your Bake-Off!

  5. Jo, the pannetone is gorgeous. Looks perfect. I have always wanted to try to make it, needed a good recipe. I love how yours looks will try it, so excited.
    I accidentally added to the lemon peel post which looks amazing too but I am so happy to have found this recipe and your beautiful site.

    • thecontentedbaker says:

      Thank you so much Suzanne for your kind works! Please give it try, it is such a satisfying bake and you will be so pleased with the outcome. Welcome to the site! 🙂

  6. Panettone is one of my favorite Christmas dessert, it is way much better than Christmas cake ;–) Yours looks gorgeous!

  7. Our local grocers are stocked with panettone and we have our favorites but your recipe might inspire us to make one ourselves! Thanks!

    • thecontentedbaker says:

      Thank you Sarah and Arkadi! It would be great if you gave it a try, it is such a satisfying bake and goes a long way.

  8. I never heard of panettone until this recipe and now it’s all I can think about! It looks so fluffy and moist, major yum!

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. I had been making my own panettone’s for a couple of years now based on my grandmothers recipe. It’s a traditional recipe, but I have had a few request for ones without raisins. So this Christmas I am doing a Chocolate/Hazelnut, Cranberry Pistachio, and wanted to do a lemon one and yours sounds perfect! I am going to try your recipe both as it is and one stuffed with White Chocolate, limencello & mascarpone. Will let you know how it turns out! And thank you for using weight measures! Cups are great but aren’t accurate every time!

    • thecontentedbaker says:

      Thank you Paul. Please let me know how you get on if you try this version. Gosh, what fabulous flavour combinations! Very inspirational, thank you.

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