1. To make the biga: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Combine the flour, water and yeast, mix until fairly smooth and VERY stiff, and allow to rest, covered, overnight.

  2. To make the dough: The next day, add the dough ingredients (except for the fruit) to the biga, mixing and then kneading — by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle — until you've made a soft, very smooth dough. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour.

  3. Knead the fruit into the dough, trying to leave most of it inside; any fruit on the surface will tend to burn as the loaf bakes.

  4. Round the dough into a ball, and transfer it to a lightly greased pandoro pan. Allow it to rise, covered, for 2 hours; it'll become noticeably puffy, but won't fill the pan.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F towards the end of the rising time.

  6. Bake the bread for 10 minutes.

  7. Tent it lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes, until its interior temperature measures 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.

  8. Remove it from the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes, then gently remove it from the pan.

  9. When cool, sprinkle the bread with confectioners' sugar or non-melting white sugar, and serve it, sliced, with mascarpone cheese, if desired.

  10. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Substitute 2 teaspoons vanilla + 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil (or 2 teaspoons lemon zest) for the Fiori di Sicilia, if desired.
  • To make and bake pandoro in your bread machine: Make the overnight biga as directed. Next day, place the risen biga and the dough ingredients (except the fruit) into the pan of your bread machine. Program the machine for Basic White Bread, Light Crust, and press Start. Add the fruit when there's about 10 minutes remaining in the final kneading cycle. At the same time, check the dough and adjust its consistency by adding flour or water, if necessary. The dough should be smooth and supple. Allow the machine to complete its cycle, and place the finished bread on a rack to cool. Store the pandoro, well-wrapped, at room temperature for up to five days.