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!
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
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
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.