Pandolce: the Ligurian Sweet Bread – How to Make it

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Pandolce (in Ligurian pandöçe or pan doce, in Sanremo pan du bambino) is a traditional product of Genova, but also the rest of Liguria is common during the holiday season.

It is round and low, until a few years ago was kept a piece for the poor and one for the day of St. Blaise February 3. In the UK it is called Genoa Cake (Cake Genoa). Probably it comes from the Genoese sweet bread with the Zibibbo, according to another theory comes from a sweet imported from Persia. Today is also prepared in various “high”.

According to some it was the Doge of Genoa, Andrea Doria to hold a competition among the master bakers of Genoa for a representative of the wealth of Genoa, nutritious, shelf stable and suitable for long sea voyages. The rise is very important for this cake; needs constant hot and so some scignùe (ladies) until the last century when they took him to bed, placing it at the bottom, under the covers, next to the “priest “enclosing warmer.

Then it was cooked in runfò (wood stove), or brought to the bakery of trust. Until the first of the 900 almost no pastry oven sold pandolce; It was prepared only for those which are called foresti (strangers), which expressly ordered to take it in the distant houses.

pandolceIngredients for a loaf

• 25g fresh yeast
• 175g sugar
• 425 ml lukewarm milk
• 900g flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 3 Tbsp. orange-flower water
• 75g melted butter
• 50g pine nuts
• 50g pistachio nuts
• 175g raisins, soaked in 3 Tbsp. marsala for 30 minutes and drained
• 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
• 1/2 tsp aniseed, crushed
• 50g candied lemon peel, chopped
• 50g candied citron, chopped
• grated rind of 1 orange


Crumble the yeast into a bowl and mash in 1/2 teaspoon of sugar with a fork. Add 4 tablespoons of the milk and cream the mixture together. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 to 20 minutes or until the yeast mixture is puffed up and frothy. Sift the flour, salt and remaining sugar into a warmed mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture, the remaining
milk and the orange-flower water. Add the melted butter and, using your fingers or a spatula, gradually draw the flour mixture into the liquid. Continue mixing and beating briskly until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out on to a floured board or marble slab and knead it for 10 minutes, re flouring the surface if it becomes sticky. The dough should be elastic and smooth. Rinse, dry and lightly grease the bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has risen and almost doubled
in bulk. Turn the risen dough on to a floured surface. Using your fingers, push out the dough until it forms a square about 1 cm (1/2 in) thick. Sprinkle over the nuts, raisins, fennel seeds, aniseed, peel, citron and orange rind. Roll up the dough Swiss (jelly) roll style.

Push into a square again and, using the heel of your hand, flatten it out to about 2 1/2 cm (1 in) thick. Roll up Swiss (jelly) roll style again. Shape the dough into a round and arrange on a well-greased baking sheet. Return the dough to the warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until it has almost doubled in bulk. Preheat the oven to fairly hot 190°C. Make three cuts in the top of the dough to
make a triangular shape. Put the baking sheet into the center of the oven and bake the bread for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to warm 170°C and continue to bake the bread for a further 1 hour. Remove the sheet from the oven.

Tip the bread off the baking sheet and rap the underside with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, like a drum, it is cooked. If it does not sound hollow, return the bread, upside-down, to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.