Pandorini – Mini Italian Christmas Bread

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Pandorini, the perfect individual little Christmas Bread.

I have always been fascinated with yeasted Christmas bakes that are so popular in many countries.  One such is Pandoro from Italy.  Made in a special star shaped mould it is a tall bread with small slopes around the top, somewhat resembling a mountain perhaps.  It is sprinkled with icing sugar after baking. 

I bought a large mould to make some, but I also bought a small silicone pan for six small ones known as Pandorini.  So I decided I would make the small ones for now and maybe try a larger one a bit later.

The process for Pandoro, and Pandorini is a long one.  There are three distinct phases, Biga, 1st dough and 2nd dough.  There is also a significant waiting time between each phase.  So making mine took just over 24 hours from start to finish, though it could have been slightly shorter.  The Biga is a very simple starter dough which is left to rise overnight ready to be included in the 1st dough the next day.  Then that 1st dough must be left in a warm place to at least double in size.  Mine took two hours to rise significantly.  Then it is time to make the 2nd dough, using the 1st dough as a base.  The dough is kneaded in a stand mixer for about 25 minutes, gradually adding eggs and then butter.  Then the dough is shaped and placed in the moulds.  After that it must be covered and left to rise again, this time until it is just above the top of the mould.  This process takes a long time,  probably at least 6 hours and maybe longer, depending on the temperature.

All that time is worth it as the resultant Pandorini are light and soft with a lovely texture and a great taste.  

Mine turned out very well indeed, and I used the extra dough in my small bundt tin to make a different shape(though that baked for longer than the Pandorini as it was much larger).

This dough is very good indeed and could be baked in a variety of different pans or moulds, even though the shape would not be authentic.  The taste would be just as good.  Muffin pans, mini brioche moulds, popover pans, dariole moulds etc would all be good.  A loaf tin would also be very good to bake a single bread from the dough.

Although I used Manitoba flour, which is very strong Canadian flour with a protein content of 14.9% strong white bread flour will work, as will plain flour in a pinch.  If you have some vital wheat gluten a little of that will add extra gluten, raising the protein level.

A larger Italian Christmas bread is Pannetone.

Pandorini – Video



  • 45g(1/3 cup – 1 tsp) Manitoba flour(or strong white bread flour)
  • 30ml(2 tbsp) lukewarm water
  • 2g(1/2 tsp) instant yeast
1st Dough:
  • Biga from above
  • 90g(2/3 cup – 2 tsp) Manitoba flour(or strong white bread flour)
  • 20g(3 tbsp) icing sugar
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) instant yeast
2nd dough:
  • 1st dough from above
  • 210g(1 1/3 cups + 2 tsp) Manitoba flour(or strong white bread flour)
  • 90g(1/2 cup – 1 tbsp)caster sugar
  • 10g(1 1/2 tsp) honey
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 1 medium egg yolk (large in USA)
  • seeds from 1 vanilla pod
  • zest from 1 lemon, grated
  • 125g(1 stick _ 1 tbps) softened butter, cubed
  • icing sugar for sprinkling. 
  1. Place the 45g of flour into a bowl and add 2g of yeast and then the water.
  2. Stir everything around until it begins to form a dough.
  3. Work the dough with your hands, cleaning the bowl out, until it is smooth and stretchy and hardly tacky.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl again then cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter overnight.  That is the biga.
  5. Place the biga into the bowl of a stand mixer(you can break it into pieces for ease if you wish).
  6. Add the 90g glour, icing sugar and yeast and mix with the dough hook, just briefly to distribute.
  7. Add the egg and mix again, continuing to knead for 10 to 15 minutes, until the dough is stretchy and doesn’t break easily as you stretch some of it very thinly.
  8. Place the dough on the counter and fold over on itself and form into a ball, creating tension on the surface.
  9. Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Allow the dough to proof in a warm place, such as an oven with the light on(but no heat on) until it has more than doubled in size.  This will take 2 hours or maybe more.
  11. Place the dough into the bowl of the stand mixer again, breaking it up if you wish.
  12. Add the 210g flour, caster sugar, honey, vanilla bean seeds and the lemon zest and mix around.
  13. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time whilst kneading with the dough hook.  Allow each egg to incorporate fully before adding the next one.
  14. Once the eggs are fully incorporated add the butter, one piece at a time allowing it to be fully incorporated before adding the next piece.
  15. When all the butter is fully incorporated continue kneading for a further 15 minutes, until the dough is silky and very stretchy.
  16. Break the dough into 60g pieces and form each into a tight ball.
  17. Place each ball into the pandorini mould(if using another mould like a muffin tin the dough should rise higher above the top since the muffin cups are not as deep as a pandorini mould)
  18. Cover with plastic wrap, or a damp towel,  and allow to proof, in a warm place,until they rise above the top of the mould.  This will take a long time(mine took more than 6 hours).
  19. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and place a small bowl of hot water in the oven.
  20. When the dough has risen enough place the mould into the oven and reduce the heat to 160C/320F and bake for 20 minutes, with the bowl of hot water still in the oven.
  21. Afgter 20 minutes the pandorini should be baked. Remove them from the oven and leave for 10 minutes.
  22. Turn the mould upside down and allow to cool completely before removing the pandorini.
  23. Sprinkle some icing sugar over the top.

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