The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Traditional Sourdough Pandoro - Merry X'mas!

txfarmer's picture

Traditional Sourdough Pandoro - Merry X'mas!

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

I have made sourdough Pandoro before (here), the process was similiar to soudough panettone - sweet starter, long rises, and thorough kneading. Just when I thought that was labor intensive enough, I came across this post, nicodvb's answer really peaked my interest: lamination AND sweet starter? Wow, that's like combining two most difficult breads in one, how can I not try?!

I followed this recipe nocodvb linked to, essentially, the steps are: sweet starter->first dough mix and rise at 26C for 5-6 hours->2nd dough mix and rise at 28C for 5 hours->lamination, fold 3 times->shape and rise until ready ->bake. Looks clear enough and the original poster's picture tutorials were so helpful. But of course the reality was a tad different ...

I decided to push my first dough to rise for 8hours, the dough has expanded 4 times by then. I feel a fuller first rise will help the crumb and rising speed later (...maybe not so much actually). Since I mixed 2nd dough to full developement, a strong windown pan was achieved.

After 5 hours, 2nd dough has expended a bit, but not too much, I started lamination. OMG, the dough's much stronger than my usual croissant dough AND not that wet. The most difficult part is that the amound of fold-in butter to dough ratio is significantly lower than croissant or my laminated sandwich dough. All that means it's hella difficult to roll it out evently without smearing butter into dough. Given that butter ratio, I knew the crumb won't be honeycomb like, however I still tried my best to keep layers. It was an arm breaking 4 hours.

Now it comes to shaping. According to the recipe link, my larger pandoro mold should take in 750g of dough, and my smaller one should take 550g. However, my previous attempt showed that 550g was enough for the larger mold. I debated and put 650g into the larger mold, and the rest (500g) into the smaller one. Well, now I know it's too much for both. Then it comes to final rise, and it went on, and on, and on... Due to the laminated butter layers, I didn't want to have temperature higher than 26C in fear of buter melting, so it took fully 24 hours for the dough to reach the top!! I felt the dough, it's still strong and bouncy, it could've used more time to proof. However, 24 hours was my mental limit for proofing, I could take no more! Of course, the ovenspring was tremendous due to slight underproof. And, judging from the pic below, 550g (rather than 650) would've been enough for this larger mold. This huge dome was rather inconvenient when I had to flip it upside down.

And the smaller mold was even more overfilled. 400g would've been enough (there's 500g of dough in there).

The good news is that all that work and time was worthwhile. First noticable effect from lamination was the flaky croissant like crust.

Crumb was light as air, with some random pockets from laminated butter

Note some honeycomb like cells near the top, from lamination

It's very  "shreddable", I am guessing due to both intensive kneading and lamination.

Best eaten by "peeling off". Thank you nicodvb for directing me to this wonderful recipe, happy holidays everyone!



Floydm's picture

Merry Christmas to you too!


txfarmer's picture

Happy Holidays, Floyd!

ananda's picture

Merry Christmas to you too, txfarmer!

You worked very hard; the whiteness of the crumb tells me how hard you worked this dough.   Beautiful result.

Very best wishes in the New year too


txfarmer's picture

Happy Holidays, Andy!

Janetcook's picture


Amazing loaf and sooo much effort on your part!  I can see that the crumb is soft and that the crust is beautiful but I am wondering about the flavor since it fermented and proofed such a very long time.  Wonder if the sugar and other enrichments cancelled out any sour flavor.  I also wonder about the flavor compared to the panettone.  I imagine it is different due to the added fruit in a panetonne but the base of these 2 breads is very similar.

I have made pandoro too but not using your method.  (I stuck to the outline Maggie Glesser has in her book.)  I found that I over filled my pans too.  These doughs really rise a huge amount which I now know, thanks to you and Michael, is due to all of the butter in the dough.  I filled my pans only 1/3 full and I still got a dome similar to yours.  Next time I will fill only 1/4 full.

Thanks for the write up and photos of this loaf.  I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too :-)

Early this evening it began to snow here so we are in for a white Christmas.  First one we have had in years.  Very pretty and peaceful out.

Take Care,


txfarmer's picture

The great thing about sourdough panettone and pandoro is that the tanginess of sourdough shines through even with all the other enriching ingredients in the dough. In this pandoro, without other add-in ingredients like panettone, the effect was even more noticable. That sourdough flavor plays really well with the sweet dough, very complex flavor. My husband loves this bread, even more so than sourdough panettone.

Janetcook's picture

Thanks for letting me know about the flavor.  :-)

mwilson's picture

I hate to burst your bubble but I have to say this... Panettone, pandoro and similar naturally leavened cakes should not be at all tangy. Any detectable acidity in the final product would be considered an error by any producer in Italy.

Italians pride themselves on knowing how to properly handle the natural yeast. It's part of their history...

Plus it seems odd prefixing the word 'sourdough' to panettone and pandoro. By definition they are made from natural yeast (sourdough). It has always been so...

txfarmer's picture

Ha, I claim no expert on sourdough pandoro/panettone, so no bubble to burst, all comments are welcomed. :)

The ultra long proof for this particular dough would definitely contribute to the "tanginess". However, I am just wondering, your sourdough panettone has absolutely no special taste comparing to dry yeast versions? None of that special "sourdough" flavor? Cuz mine certinaly do, even the ones whith rising time strictly matching the formula (first rise 10-12 hrs, proofing 5-6 etc). It's not really "sour", I used "tangy" which might not be the accurate despcription, it's that... sourdough taste. Hmmm, if "authentic" versions should be without any sourdough flavor, I wonder whether the difference lies in the way starters were kept. Things to ponder...

Luckily we all love that "sourdough taste" in those rich holiday breads, so there's no waste. :)





dabrownman's picture

Pandoro that you made Ying! Beautiful baking.

txfarmer's picture

Happy Holidays, debrownman!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

... as are all of your breads, txfarmer :-)

Merry Christmas,

txfarmer's picture

Woah, so glad that you dropped by, Debra. Happy Holidays!

SylviaH's picture

Best Wishes to you and yours for the New Year ahead!


txfarmer's picture

Happy Holidays, Sylvia!

FlourChild's picture

What a glorious bread, txfarmer!  Masterful- really loved following this project.

Merry Christmas,


txfarmer's picture

Happy Holidays, Julie!

nicodvb's picture

to have a slice here for me:-)

Very nice pandoro, txfarmer. Which of the 4 recipes I linked  did you follow? Papum's or the one by profumodilievito?

I agree with Michael that panettone and pandoro are not supposed to have any levain aftertaste, as if they were made with tiny amounts of yeast. Did you refresh your starter three times before the first dough? Most of the times those early refreshments remove any sourness, although sometimes sourness persists.

In my opinion the crumb has some irregularity that probably can be attributed to what looks like a  final rolling. Those tiny holes at the sides and the rolling effect at the center shouldn't be visible. Last time I made a laminated pandoro (now 2 years ago, lamination is not really for me!) I found that inserting the dough from the last turn in the mold without rolling gave me the best visual effect.

As for the length of the final fermentation (extenuating!) and for the difficulty of the lamination itself I can echo what you wrote. Papum adviced me that the second dough shouldn't come together very tight in order to ease lamination, but how a dough so rich can come together and still be less tight  is still a mistery to me!

 Your mold was surely too full. In my opinion it should be filled with an amount of dough equal to 1/3 the volume, or even a bit less. My mold is supposed to contain 1 kg of dough, but it contains 2800cc, thus I fill it with 900 gr.

txfarmer's picture

Yay, thank you so much for dropping by and give expert opinions!

Regarding crumb, I was wondering about that. Since there's a lamination process, should the ideal crumb be a bit like croissants, with even honeycomb like holes? I can see how the irregular ones in my crumb were not ideal. In fact I followed my usual croissant making procedure to make sure the butter layers do not smear into the dough layer, however since the butter ratio was much lower than croissant dough (i.e. thinner butter layers), and the dough was much stronger, it was difficult to keep completely even holes/layers. Or do you mean no holes should be seen in the crumb? In that case, I am wondering what the purpose for lamination is. Please know that I am not questioning the process, my engineering mind is just trying to understand it. :)

Regarding flavor, I did convert my liquid starter to a firm one (50%) then keep it as Italian sweet starter for 24-48 hours, that's feeding it every 4 hours for 6-11 times. My previous sourdough panettones rose pretty much on schedule, however this pandoro took much longer than the recipe says. I am suspecting it's probably how/what I feed my usual starter that brings this sourdough flavor (not overwhelmingly sour/tangy, but it's definitely there in the background). Here's another "why" question: if sourdough panettone/pandoro should be without any sourdough flavor, what's the main purpose of maing it with sourdough, instead of dry yeast? I know it will keep longer, is that the main reason? Does it have any other effects on flavor and crumb?

Anyway, thanks again for your answers. I love bread discussions like this, always learn a lot.

nicodvb's picture

Txfarmer, let me first post  a couple of images of laminated pandoro that in my opinion came out perfect (this guy is incredibly skilled

this slice if exactly as I intend pandoro to look like

this one came out definitely less well, even though it was from the very same dough; probably it underwent a different shaping or a different baking

(mine is here, really far from the goal )

As you can see Peter's crumb looks like combed whool, very similar to your shreddably soft pain the mie. Pandoro is supposed to have a shreddable crumb, so you are MUCH closer to it than I will ever be! actually the effect of lamination doesn't show at all in pandoro, probably because of teh very slow rise of the final fermentation. Anyway the look and the consistence of the crumb are unique: the crumb shreds, but at the same time it melts in the mouth.

The reason for the sourdough starter is the tradition (actually I hate both the word and the concept underlying it, but I'll have to keep it): panettone and pandoro were born when there was no baker's yeast at all. Baker's yeast is an invention of the 19th century, or at least it was introduced in italy in the 19th century, while panettone dates back to the 15th century. Italians are *VERY* conservative, welll ... ALMOST all italians:-)

Actually I've seen many more successful pandoros made with tiny amounts of baker's yeast than with a sourdough starter.

txfarmer's picture

Ha, that link was the recipe I followed this time. He's not only skilled, but also a detailed poster, incredibly helpful!

Back to crumb, I can see lamination would contribute to "shreddability" (we are just inventing English here :P) because the butter layers would/should create subtle layers. The butter ratio is low comparing to croissants, I suspect that's why there's no visible holes/honeycomb layers. Like I said, in this try, I didn't roll the butter layers evenly, which leads to irregular big holes. That makes sense.

Thanks for the explanation regarding "sourdough tradition" too. I will keep exploring ways to reduce sourdough flavor in these traditional breads, like I said in my reply above, my family/friends happen to love that sourdough flavor in sweet breads (but none of them are Italian), so there's no waste when I experiment. :)

Happy Holidays, really appreciate your time and answers!