Chocolate and spiced orange Panettone

Christmas bread baking homecook Italian chocolate panettone

This is my chocolate and orange version of panettone, which gives a wonderful chocolate hit that complements the buttery and light-as-air crumb that melts in your mouth effortlessly. Not to mention the heady flavours of vanilla and orange….

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This is my favourite panettone flavour combination: eaten with a cup of strong coffee or some Amaretto to dunk into, and I am in a very happy place indeed!

As with my previous Panettone post, this is an adaptation of a recipe by Andrea Tortora. It takes the best part of 2 days, but most of this time is simply letting the yeast do its thing slowly while you get on with other things.

There is very little actual hands-on work to do, most of which is done in a food mixer with the dough hook.

I like to flavour this panettone with cocoa powder in the main dough, so you get a much darker panettone than normal, with chocolate pieces within. And just enough orange zest to add a citrus kick.

To top or not to top!

A topping is not essential for this, but I am quite partial to a spiced almond macaroon topping – with gives a sweet, chewy crunch to proceedings. I also love the colour contrast between the topping and the panettone itself.

The recipe for this topping is on my earlier panettone post here.


Whatever tins you use, don’t go more than half way with the dough: even once it has proved, once it goes into the over it will rise significantly.

This mixture makes two tall 6″-diameter panettones or about 20 small ones, using vertical-sided muffin tins or small panettone paper cases.

You can use deep cake tins and double-line them with a greaseproof collar, which will hold the dough perfectly in place as it proves and bakes.

You could also use cleaned tins from baked beans and the like (but use tins without the rims so you have perfectly vertical sides).

A great gift idea

I like to make these into smaller panettones in the special panettone paper cases – perfect wrapped up in cellophane and given as gifts.

Preparing the tin

Whatever tin you go for, butter it inside and line it with a double-thickness of greaseproof, going a couple of inches above the tin.

This does two things:

(1) It insulates the mixture while it bakes. preventing it from getting too dark or crisp in the oven.

(2) It holds the dough in place as it rises and as it bakes so that you get a nice vertical pannetone. Without this collar, the dough is prone to sagging dejectedly over the edge of the tin!

You can also buy great panettone paper cases to bake the dough in, which look so pretty.

Recipe: spiced orange & chocolate panettone – makes two deep 6” panettones or about 20 small ones

Initial pre-ferment:

20g strong white flour
7g sachet instant yeast*
20g water

(1) Mix the ingredients together, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise until very bubbly and well risen: several hours in a warmish room or up to a day if in a cooler room. I sometimes pop it into the fridge overnight: the longer you leave it, the more pronounced the final flavour will be.

* it is a lot of yeast for the small amount of flour compared to a more traditional pre-ferment or poolish and the like, but there needs to be for what will be a very enriched dough.

Second pre-ferment:
  • 120g flour
  • 90g water
  • the initial pre-ferment

(2) Add the flour and water to the initial pre-ferment and mix well. Cover and leave overnight at room temperature, covered with clingfilm.
NB: this extra flour will keep the dough well fed so the yeast will be very active. The flavour will also be magnificent and will enhance the main dough.

Main dough
  • 200g caster sugar dissolved in 160ml warm water
  • the second pre-ferment (above)
  • 400g flour
  • 7g sachet instant yeast
  • 10 large egg yolks (freeze the egg whites in batches for meringues and the like)
  • 200g very soft unsalted butter
To finish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tablespoons pearl sugar (sugar nibs) or Demerara sugar, optional

(3) Add the flour, yeast, second pre-ferment, sugar solution and eggs and knead for about 5 minutes: I tend to use the food mixer with the dough hook.

(4)  With the mixer on at a medium speed, add butter a little at a time and continue to knead for 10 mins.
NB: you will be a very soft dough, almost like a thick cake batter but silky and shiny.

(5) Cover and leave at room temperature for an hour or so to kick-start the yeast into action and then leave in the fridge overnight.

Final dough
  • 100g strong white flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 30g caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 4 large oranges
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 3 teaspoons Fiori di Sicilia
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 60g very soft unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 150g chocolate of choice, cut into small pieces

(6) Add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, Fiori di Sicilia and chocolate to the chilled dough. Knead to incorporate for a few minutes.

(7) Gradually knead in the butter and egg yolks. Finally add the salt and knead for 2-3 minutes.

(8) Scrape the dough into a tin (or several smaller tins)  – see above. Go to about half full, but not much more than that. You can use a damp finger to smooth off the tops if you prefer.

(9) Cover loosely with clingfilm or pop into a large plastic bag and leave at room temperature until the dough has almost doubled in size.

(10) Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle over the sugar generously. Or, if using the macaroon topping, dot this roughly on top.

(11) Bake in an oven set to 160C (fan) for about 25 minutes for smaller panettones, and 50-60 minutes for the larger ones. You can cover the tops with foil or greaseproof towards the end of the cooking time if they start to go dark.

(12) Remove from the oven and leave to cool in their tins before turning out.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

One thought on “Chocolate and spiced orange Panettone”

  1. Nice! I believe I will give it a whirl. I appreciate the weights and the clarity. For the initial yeast preparation, it appears to me that a 100% sourdough starter will take you to the same place, especially with the additions of sugar and flour – its definitely going to rise well.


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