Pandoro – Christmas Bread from Verona
The name arrives from the intense gold color of this Christmas bread (Pane di Oro – Bread of Gold). It is not clear exactly where this festive bread originated. Some believe that it was born in the Venetian Republic in the 1500s where it was served covered with thin sheets of gold. Others insist that it has its origins in a star shaped Christmas bread from Verona called Nadalin.
Most believe that the origins are in the family of the kings of Asburgo. Since the 1700s the method of preparation of the “Bread of Vienna” has been well known and those same methods are employed today to make Pandoro.
Pandoro in its traditional shape is a star however it will be difficult to find the right mold here in the States. Most molds I have seen are too tight in the arms of the star making it extremely difficult to properly leaven and, after baking, remove cleanly from the mold. If you cannot find a good mold I suggest you make this in a coffee can lined with parchment paper and rising to a total height of about 9 inches.
200 grams of Biga
¼ cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
3 ¾ cups of all purpose flour (500 grams)
¼ cup sugar (50 grams)
¼ cup butter (50 grams) [room temperature]
Disolve 1 tablespoon sugar in the warm water and mix in dry yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Place the Biga in a large mixing bowl. Add the dissolved yeast to the Biga and mix well with a metal spoon.
Whisk the eggs with the sugar until light in color. Add the flour to the biga in the large mixing bowl and mix about 1 minute. The dough will not be formed but will be clumpy. Add the egg and sugar mixture to the dough and mix well.
The dough will be formed. Work in the butter. I prefer to use my hands but this can be done with a metal spoon or dough paddle on a mixer. Once thoroughly incorporated cove with plastic wrap and let rise about 1 hour or until doubled.
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 egg yolks (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour (300 grams)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the inside of 2 vanilla beans
zest of 1 lemon
1 ¼ cups butter (room temperature)
½ cup flour for kneading dough
This is where it gets tricky. You need to render the dough liquid enough to add the additional flour but do not want to completely break down the dough. Add the salt and lemon zest to the flour and mix in a separate bowl. Place the eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk together until lighter in color, a bit creamy.
Add ½ of the egg mix to the existing dough and work in with your hands or a metal spoon. All at once, add the flour, salt, and zest mix to the dough and the remaining egg mixture. Mix completely. The dough will pliable and should not be sticky. Work in the butter by hand.
Finally place the dough on a floured surface and work in the remaining ½ cup of flour. The dough will be pliable, elastic and light in color. The dough will change according to the humidity in your location so work with the remaining flour to get the consistency you want. It will take about 10-15 minutes of kneading by hand to get the proper elasticity.
Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 3 hours. If the kitchen temperature is under 78 degrees it may take 4-5 hours. This dough must rise appropriately otherwise this will be a brick! I usually prepare the dough after dinner and let it rise all night since my house is about 68 degrees.
To shape the Pandoro, sprinkle the dough with flour. During the rise the dough will have become very sticky from the butter. Flour the surface and your hands then cut the dough into two parts and shape into balls. Do not be afraid to add flour to work the dough. There is a lot of butter in the dough and it will amalgamate with the flour.
Butter the molds or coffee cans lined with parchment paper and place the dough in the mold. Cover with a moist towel and let rise for 4 hours. If the kitchen is cold allow for 5 hours. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to 300 and cook for another 30 minutes. Let cool completely on racks before attempting to remove from the mold.
Just before serving place in a large plastic bag with 1/3 cup powdered sugar and shake. Remove from plastic bag and serve.
Serve with a Prosecco or a Spumante (if you like sweet wines).
Tags: Pandoro Italian Christmas Bread Italian Traditions Verona Veneto Food and Wine Travel Italy