Panettone (Old Dough Method)

by - December 13, 2017

This is my version of healthy Panettone with less sugar, butter and eggs.   I got this idea from my sister who is a talented baker.  She baked some beautiful Panettone Buns for us when visited her recently.  The sponge dough starter method yields a soft bread with a rich aroma. It smells heavenly!

I used pâte fermentée (pre-fermented dough in French) or sometimes called "old dough" to make this soft and flavourful bread.  Traditionally, bread makers take a portion of the bread dough made and save it overnight for next day baking.  I made it from scratch since I did not have any ready old dough. With this method, the bread is more flavourful and aromatic due to the higher acidity and fermentation gasses produced during the slow fermentation.

Please click on Bread Making Method to understand more details.

It is advisable to read the below general notes before starting baking.


For kneading, please regard the timing provided as an indication only. It is only meant as a guide.  Timing may differ depending on the brand of flour and electric mixer used. The protein content may vary from one brand of flour to another.

Some have experienced the dough breaking during the second proofing.  If that happens it is due to over kneading.  Please stop the machine and check your dough during the final cycle of kneading to ensure that you don't over knead. Every machine is different and there is always a chance of over-kneading when using a machine. You may need to adjust this timing and stop as soon as you reach the window pane stage.

The right flour plays a very important role in bread making.  Usually bread flour content around 11.5 - 13.5% protein, while high gluten flour is around 13.5 - 14.5%.  All purpose flour content less protein around 9 - 11%.  To achieve fluffy, soft and light bread, I used Japan High Gluten Flour in most of my bread baking.  Sources from here and here.

The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 

Please note that the proofing timing may also vary depending on your climate and environment. The humidity and temperature at your place will influence how dough rises.  
If you are unable to judge by just looking at the dough, you can do the finger poke test:
  1. First Proofing:
    • Lightly flour or oil your finger or knuckle, gently poke in the centre of the dough then remove your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation then it needs more time.
    • If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back or if the dough collapses, then the it is over proved.  
    • If it bounces back just a little, then the dough is ready to be punched down and shaping.
  2. Second Proofing:
    • Lightly press the side of the proved dough with your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation, it means the dough is under proved and needs more time before baking.
    • If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back, it means it has been over proved.
    • If the indentation slowly bounces back and leave a small indentation, it is ready to bake. 
    • There will be a final burst of rising once the bread is placed to bake in the oven and it is called oven spring. 
If your bread collapses or gets wrinkled on top after removing from oven, it could be because your dough over proved during the second proofing. Please proof your dough until it just reaches or is slightly below the rim of the pan.

Do also note that the baking temperature and timing provided are what works for my oven and should also be regarded as a guide only. Every oven behaves a little differently, so please adjust accordingly for your oven.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.

Recipe - Panettone 


Old Dough Starter:
125g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
½ tsp yeast
½ tsp sugar
90g fresh milk

Main Dough:
300g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
1 tsp instant yeast
40g (4 tbsp) brown sugar
1 ½  tsp salt
40g butter
45g whisked egg (from 1 big egg, balance use for egg wash)
145g fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest from 1 ½ orange
150g mixed fruits (raisins and cranberries) 
2 tbsp brandy (optional)

Egg wash:  Balance of wished egg  + ½ tsp water

Utensil: baking tray


For the Old Dough:
  1. Combine water, yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Then mix in bread flour and knead with your hand for few minutes until smooth and shiny.  Roll into a ball and place in a greased bowl.  Cover with cling film and let it prove for 1 hour in a warm and dark place. 
  2. After 1 hour, place into the refrigerator and use the next day at least after 10 hours or up to 16 hours. 30 minutes before using, take out the sponge dough from refrigerator to return to room temperature.
For the main dough:
  1. The night before, soak dried fruits and brandy in an airtight container.
  2. Line the baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Put all ingredients except dried fruits (start with salt, flour, yeast, sugar, butter, egg, fresh milk, and old dough) into the bowl of stand mixer. Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, knead until the dough comes together and become elastic and tacky but not sticky. Tacky dough behaves sort of like a Post-it note, sticking to a surface but peeling off easily. It takes around 15 minutes.  If the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time. Few minutes towards the end of kneading, add in soaked dried fruits.  If the dried fruits not evenly mix, use your hand to knead until mix well.
  4. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 60 minutes or until double in size in a large greased bowl, covered with cling film or kitchen towel.
  5. Punch down the dough to release the air.  Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface then divide into 3 equal portions.  Form each portion into a strand (about 12 inch long).  Braid the dough strands, pinch the end and tuck both ends under the bread. Transfer the bread onto the prepared baking tray.
  6. Let it rise for another 50 - 60 minutes or until double in size in a warm and dark place.
  7. 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 190C.
  8. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with rolled oats. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
  9. Remove bread to cool on rack.

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  1. Hi I would like to ask can this be baked in cups? Thank you

    1. Hi there, thank you for asking. Yes, I am sure you can. But, I have not tried in the cup yet. Cheers :)

  2. Hello, can you pls suggest what can be used to replace 45gms of egg?

    1. Hi, Thank you for asking. You can omit egg and replace with milk of the same weight.

      Cheers :)

  3. Hi, I've tried your recipe and baked in cups. It's nice and soft and tastes healthy! Thanks!

    1. Hi, thanks for trying and your kind feedback. I totally forgot about this recipe. Someone just asked me whether can use old dough method to bake Panettone. Then I saw your comment. lol :)

      Thanks, again :)