Pandolce Genovese

Fennel, Raisin, and Pine Nut Bread from Genoa

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Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

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Rare among enriched bread doughs, the pandolce does not contain eggs or milk. The fennel-scented dark brown loaves are seen in all the pastry shops on the Ligurian coast, along with the locally popular lemon tart.

This version is a synthesis of different pandolci I tasted in Santa Margherita Ligure, Recco, and Genoa.



  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast or ounce compressed yeast


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • cup warm water
  • teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • cup raisins
  • cup candied citron or orange peel, rinsed and chopped
  • cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds


For the sponge, place the flour in a small bowl. Measure warm tap water and whisk the yeast into the water. Stir the yeast mixture into the flour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to ferment at room temperature until double, about 30 minutes.

For the dough, place the ingredients in the order given in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle or in a mixing bowl. Add the sponge and beat on the lowest speed. This should take about 5 minutes by machine. If you are mixing by hand, use your hand to squeeze the dough together, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by folding it over on itself repeatedly until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Add the raisins, candied peel, pine nuts, and fennel seeds to the dough and mix in gently, by machine or by hand. Cover the bowl and allow to ferment until double, about 3 to 4 hours.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and fold it over on itself several times to deflate. Form the dough into a round loaf, place it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and cover with a towel. Allow to proof until double, about 2 to 3 hours.

Immediately before baking, slash the top of the pandolce: make 2 parallel cuts 2 inches apart on the top of the loaf, then 2 more cuts perpendicular to the first ones, to form a #.

Bake the pandolce at 375 degrees for about 1 hour until well risen and a deep golden color, and until a thin knife blade inserted into the thickest part emerges clean.

Cool the pandolce on a rack. Store well wrapped in plastic at room temperature.