Panettone is that quintessential European Christmas bread, packaged in boxes like presents lining grocery store endcaps all November and December. You may have passed by wondering what it is, or if you’re already acquainted, you may be wondering what else you can do with it—besides eating it straight and dunking it into coffee or cocoa, that is. Wherever you fall, panettone is a bread worth getting to know a little better. One recommendation? Turn it into a panettone bread pudding.
Transforming an entire loaf into a custardy bread pudding not only celebrates the texture of this tender bread but is also a flavor-packed shortcut to making the best bread pudding you’ve ever had. Made with a sweet white chocolate custard, this panettone bread pudding is the holidays in a casserole dish.
What is Panettone?
Panettone (pan-eh-toe-neh) is an Italian sweet bread studded with a menagerie of candied orange peel and dried fruit. Characterized by a buttery, sweet citrus flavor profile with a fluffy texture, this bread is akin to brioche. A good panettone is supple and soft, always risen and baked into a beautiful paper lining. Not to knock on fruitcake, but panettone is like its sophisticated, more delightful Italian cousin.
How To Make Pannetonne Bread Pudding
Panettone bread pudding is a delicious way to use panettone lying around the kitchen, transforming it into a custardy, sweet dessert that’s as amazing warm as it is cold. This recipe comes together quickly, with just a few techniques that guarantee success.
1. Toast the Bread
Panettone is a very moist, very soft bread. While toasting the bread beforehand may feel like an extraneous step, it actually ensures that the bread is dry enough to be rehydrated by the sweet white chocolate custard. This makes the panettone bread pudding turn out custardy and velvety instead of soggy, which means every minute the bread spends toasting is another minute closer to a perfect bread pudding.
2. Prepare the Custard
Making the custard involves whipping tons of fatty egg yolks and eggs directly into a mixture of warmed half-and-half, sugar, white chocolate, and butter. The most important step here is allowing the half-and-half mixture to cool completely, otherwise, you risk cooking the eggs as you drop them into the custard. The easiest way to prevent this is by allowing the mixture to cool completely. However, if you get impatient as we do, try tempering your eggs. This process is simple and foolproof– crack all of your eggs into a separate bowl first, then add a tablespoon of the half-and-half mixture, whisking to combine between additions. Repeat this process 4-5 times. As you do this, you’ll bring your eggs up to temperature slowly, making it a smooth transition when you add your eggs to the half-and-half.
3. Bake the Bread Pudding
The last step in making your Panettone Bread Pudding is to assemble everything, let the panettone rest, and bake. Place the toasted panettone pieces snuggly in a 9×13, drizzle the custard all over the top, and let it sit in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes, allowing the toasted panettone to soak up all of the delicious custard. When ready to bake, place in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the custard has been completely set and the top of the Panettone Bread Pudding is golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and this classic Christmas dessert will become a staple for the holidays to come.
More Holiday Desserts
- Chocolate Dipped Shortbread cookies
- Brownie Pecan Pie
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
- Slice and Bake Cookies
Panettone Bread Pudding
- 1.5-2 pounds panettone*
- 5 cups half-and-half
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 ounces white chocolate chips
- 3 large eggs
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 navel orange, zested
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- powdered sugar for garnish
- vanilla ice cream for serving
- Preheat oven to 300° Fahrenheit. Tear the panettone loaf into pieces ranging from 1-3 inches large, tearing about half of the loaf into larger pieces and half into smaller ones. Arrange in a single layer on a large sheet tray, then bake until browned and toasted—approximately 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 350° Fahrenheit.
- While the panettone bakes in the oven, make the custard. To a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add the half-and-half, sugar, vanilla, and butter. Whisk frequently until the sugar dissolves and the half-and-half begins to simmer. Slowly add the white chocolate chips one small handful at a time, whisking to fully melt before adding another handful. Once melted and smooth, remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk rapidly until the mixture is smooth and the color resembles a soft butter yellow. Add the salt and the orange zest and whisk to combine.
- Grease a 9×13 or 3-quart baking dish. Add the toasted panettone to the dish, arranging if needed to ensure the pieces fit snuggly. Slowly pour the custard mixture all over the top, ensuring every piece of panettone is coated in the custard. If needed, gently turn the top pieces over to coat. Cover the dish in aluminum foil and rest in the fridge for 30-45 minutes, allowing the bread to soak up the custard mixture.
- After it has rested, uncover the dish and sprinkle all over with turbinado sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the custard has set and is no longer runny. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then dust with powdered sugar and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
- 9×13 or 3-quart baking dish
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