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Pandoro

Pandoro

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Serves 8 to 10.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from several recipes.

This is a complicated recipe. There are several rising periods; so set aside most of a day to prepare this pandoro. The result will be a light and delicate bread that is like cake. Pandoro is unique. It is prepared like a bread, with plenty of kneading and rising, but it is baked in a mold like a cake. The texture is about halfway between a cake and a bread. The flavor is delicate and lightly sweet.

And a note on honesty: Homemade pandoro never looks as good as the commercial product available in stores. An Italian friend told me, "You attempt it once, then buy it in the future." I went to great lengths to get my pandoro to look as it does in that photograph, as you can see in the video. It was worth the effort once, but I'll probably never attempt it again.

Special Equipment:

Star-shaped 9-cup pandoro mold.

Ingredients:

For the starter:
½ cup (2½ ounces/71g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (120ml) warm water (105°F to 110°F/41°C to 43°C)
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 (¼-ounce/7g) packet active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
1 large egg yolk
For the cake:
3 cups (15 ounces/425g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
8 tablespoons (¼ pound/113g) unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature and cut into small pieces
1 large egg
½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from one lemon
To serve:
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Optional glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup water or lemon juice.

Directions:

For the starter:

Place all the starter ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.

For the cake:

Add 1½ cups (213g) of the flour to the starter and, using the dough hook on a stand mixer, mix on low (#2 on my Kitchenaid) until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Add ¼ cup (50g) of sugar and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Add 3 of the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next one. (Save the whites for Cats Tongues cookies—see my web site for a recipe.) I find it easier to put a rubber glove on my hand and combine everything manually.

Add half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Increase speed to medium (#4) and knead until the dough is sticky and stringy, 3 to 5 minutes. While dough is kneading, prepare a large bowl by coating the insides with butter.

Place the dough in the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours. Clean the mixer bowl.

Transfer the risen dough to the stand mixer bowl. Working like before, adding ingredients a little at a time, add the remaining flour, sugar, 3 egg yolks, along with the whole egg, salt, vanilla, and zest. Using the dough hook at low speed, knead the dough until all the ingredients are incorporated, about 1 minute.

Add the remaining butter pieces, 1 or 2 pieces at a time, kneading until each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Knead until the dough is sticky and stringy, 5 to 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl again by coating it with butter.

Place the dough in the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.

Thoroughly coat a 9–cup pandoro mold with 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter using a pastry brush. Sift flour into the mold to evenly coat, then tap out the excess (make sure to get all of the corners to prevent any sticking).

Transfer the risen dough to the prepared mold (the dough should fill the pan about halfway). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until the dough is about ½ inch (13mm) from the top of the pan.

Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 375°F (191°C).

Bake the pandoro for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F (163°C) and bake until the pandoro is dark golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes more (or to an internal temperature around 200°F (93°C) when tested with a digital thermometer).

Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 1 hour.

To serve:

When the cake has cooled completely, place it upside down on a serving platter and dust generously with powdered sugar.

Optional glaze:

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and water (or juice) and then drizzle lightly over the pandoro.