Panettone Inspired Bread


I had seen the big cardboard boxes containing Panettone at Christmas time before but usually walked on by. It wasn't until a chef (who has recently had to go on a gluten free diet) suggested I have a go at making gluten free pannetone that I thought I should taste it. So about a month ago (late October 2017) I bought a couple of different Panettone (wheat based) and had a bit, then had a bit of the other one, then a bit more of the first one & then tried to hide the huge dints in the Panettone from my family. I loved it and when they finally got to taste the ones I'd bought so did the rest of the family. My family's first question was "Can you make this gluten free?" 

Can I make gluten free Panettone? Before I can say whether I could make a gluten free Panettone I really needed to know what it is & what it is like (hence the numerous taste testings). The simple definition of Panettone is a rich Italian bread made with eggs, fruit & butter & typically eaten at Christmas time - that definition doesn't do it justice. Honestly the wheat based stuff is like a fairy floss (cotton candy) bread - well at least the first one I had was. Okay, so the following is how I view Panettone - this is from my limited but extremely dedicated Panettone eating experience.

  • Has to have a domed top.
  • Has to have a crust that is soft & caramelised. 
  • Has to taste like someone has put a little bit (or a lot) of alcohol in it.
  • Contains vanilla
  • Contains orange blossom water or orange oil or orange zest
  • Some of the other ingredients need to be dried fruit, honey, butter & eggs. 
  • The citrus peel needs to be sweet (not the bitter packet stuff I tasted). 
  • It needs to be tall (sort of).
  • It needs to have a fly away crumb.

I can definitely tick off all of the above apart from the fly away crumb, that fairy floss like texture. I won't give up trying but at the moment I will call this Panettone Inspired Bread.

Making this bread takes a little more time than most of my other gluten free bread recipes so be prepared to wait. The longer you leave the first rise the more complex (& potentially more alcoholic) the flavour will be (the majority of the alcohol should evaporate during baking). Most of the sugar in the recipe is there to feed the yeast, the different types I have used (agave, rice malt syrup, honey, table sugar) will impart distinct flavours in the Panettone. 

To make this bread I used two 10 cm round cake tins (height 7 cm). I used this sized tin to ensure the bread would not collapse on cooling. I used a tin instead of Panettone cases as I was not sure that the case would be strong enough to support the bread during baking. You will need some strong bamboo skewers for cooling the Panettone. 

This Panettone inspired bread is best eaten on the day that it is baked. If that's not possible reheat it in a hot oven with a tray of water at the bottom of the oven.  



First Rise

120 g Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour

1 tsp Yeast

15 g Sugar (for the yeast)

20 g Dark Agave syrup + 20 g Rice Malt syrup


40 g Honey

2 Eggs

25 g Butter

150 g Warm water


Dark agave syrup & rice malt syrup - agave syrup is nearly completely composed of the simple sugar fructose whereas rice malt syrup readily breaks down into glucose. I have used these sugars as they are an easily available food source for the yeast & partly for their flavour. Most of the sugar added in the first rise will be used as an energy source by the yeast. For more information on the types of sugar in sweeteners visit my monosaccharide & disaccharide tables.

Yeast - in one of my trial Panettone I used yeast & some of my sourdough culture, I was really happy with the resulting flavour. However, I would not make Panettone with this method only using my sourdough culture, it is an addition to the yeast.   


Second Rise

All of the First Rise +

80 g Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour

50 g Maize starch

7 - 10 g Vanilla bean paste

Zest of an orange

25 g Honey

40 g Butter

30 g Sugar

1 Egg

150 g Dried fruit

20 g Warm water

1 tsp Salt


Maize Starch - I have put this starch in the recipe to ensure that the bread doesn't collapse when it is cooling (upside down). I've used more maize starch in other trials & get a much drier bread or used less & end up with a denser bread that may collapse a little.

Honey & sugar - once again we are providing heaps of food for the yeast. More sugar than I have put in could be used, this will result in more alcohol being produced, more complex flavours, a slightly softer crust and an increased chance of the bread collapsing on cooling.   

Dried fruit- your choice, I used raisins, sultanas & peel. The peel that I tasted in the bought Panettone was sweet whereas the Australian packet stuff I used was quite bitter. A couple of the Panettone recipes I looked at suggested making your own citrus peel. There was a great recipe on the web that I can't find now - instead of putting the peel into the sugar syrup straight away you blanched the peel 3 x, then put them in the syrup. Apparently this gets rid of the bitter taste. I haven't tried making candied peel this way as such I can't really be sure if it gets rid of the bitterness. The dried fruit can be soaked in brandy or rum prior to use.  


Warm water is ~1/4 to 1/3 of boiling water with the remaining cold water (tap). Whether you use 1/4 or 1/3 will depend on how cold your tap water is. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast.

Pre-incubate the yeast at room temperature for approximately 5 - 8 mins in the 150 g of warm water containing the 15 g sugar. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar & disperse the yeast. This gives the yeast a readily available food source & they can "revive" in a relatively undisturbed environment. After the allocated time the surface of the yeast mixture should be slightly frothy. This indicates the yeast are viable. 

If the yeast mixture has a frothy top or you can see bubbles proceed with making the first rise.

First rise

Combine the ingredients, including the yeast, until a smooth dough forms. Transfer dough to a bowl that is ~3 x the size of the dough.

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or glad wrap & leave in a warm, moist spot for at least 4 hours. If the dough is starting to overflow, give the bowl a shake to release the gas. Dough can be left to ferment overnight in the fridge. 

Second rise

Prepare the tins by greasing them & lining the base. Make a paper collar using at least 2 layers of baking paper for the tins that extends ~5 cm above the height of the tin. I use a 10 cm diameter round tin as I know the crust will support the loaf - if the tin is too wide the bread may collapse in the middle upon cooling.  

Excluding the dried fruit, mix together the ingredients for the second rise incorporating all of the first rise. Gently add in the dried fruit. 

Divide dough equally between the tins. Proof in a warm moist spot for ~40 mins. (1st & 2nd from the right didn't overflow the tin. When proving the dough will rise above the tin & it will rise again during baking). 

Turn on oven to 200 C fan forced. 

Bake at 200 C for 10 mins. Leave the tins in the oven.

Turn oven down to 190 C. Bake for 10 mins. 

Turn oven down to 170 C. Put a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven. Bake for 20 mins.

Bring out of the oven & slide the panettone out of the tins on to cooling racks. Put the panettone on their sides. 

Panettone are usually hung upside to cool (to ensure that the beautiful domed top doesn't collapse). You can either cool the Panettone by leaving them on their sides and rotating every 10 mins or so or by inserting 2 bamboo skewers, at right angles to each other, halfway through the loaf. Hang the Panettone upside down by resting the bamboo skewers on the edges of a saucepan or bowl. I have put the skewers at right angles to give more support to the bread during cooling. This is instead of parallel close to the sides of the bread that you will often see in cooling wheat based Panettone

When it is cool, cut into it, close your eyes & inhale the wonderful scent of freshly made gluten free Panettone Inspired bread. 

Simply enjoy!