With glorious aromas of vanilla and rum-soaked fruit, it’s a Christmas taste of la dolce vita


  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs and 5 egg yolks, beaten together, plus 1 egg white to glaze
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • A little oil, to oil bowl
  • 80g raisins
  • 80g sultanas
  • 3 tbsp golden rum
  • 100g good-quality candied citrus peel, finely chopped
  • A little icing sugar, to dust


  1. Add the vanilla extract to the beaten eggs and yolks. In a large bowl, beat the butter and all but 1 tsp of the sugar until light, thick and creamy. Gradually add the beaten egg mixture, whisking continuously (if the mix begins to split, add 1 tbsp of the strong bread flour). Add the orange and lemon zest.
  2. Warm the milk in a pan until tepid, then pour into a small bowl. Crumble the yeast on top, then add the reserved 1 tsp sugar. Stir the yeast until it dissolves, allow to stand for 5-10 minutes until the yeast activates and bubbles form on the surface.
  3. Sift the flour, salt and nutmeg into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the milky yeast and quickly mix through the flour. Add the egg mixture, folding in to make a soft, sticky dough.
  4. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and, with floured hands, knead for 10 minutes until silky and smooth. The dough will be very sticky at first, but will eventually come together as you keep working it (avoid adding extra flour as this will alter the final texture). Form into a ball, then place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place (an airing cupboard is ideal) for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile, put the raisins and sultanas in a small pan with the rum, bring to a simmer, stir well, then remove from the heat and leave to plump up as they cool.
  6. Grease the cake pan.
  7. When the dough has risen, tip onto a floured surface. Knead for a minute, then begin to knead in the raisins, sultanas and candied peel until evenly distributed, discard the rum. Form the dough into a smooth ball and place it into the cake pan. Cover loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place for 2 hours until the dough has tripled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  9. When the dough has risen, brush the top of the panettone with egg white. Wrap a double layer of brown paper around the outside of the cake pan, high enough so it extends 10cm above the top of the tin. Secure with kitchen string.
  10. Place the cake pan on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/350°F and bake for a further 30-35 minutes (you may need to cover the top with foil after 20 minutes to prevent it browning too much). When ready, a skewer inserted in the centre will come out clean.
  11. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Lightly dust with icing sugar before cutting.

Tip: If desired, you can use dried yeast instead of fresh yeast. Follow the guidelines suggested on the packet for quantities and when to add.