Italian Fruit Cake

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Italian Fruit Cake

Italian fruit cake is a rich and buttery sweet bread that is filled with all different kinds of fruit. Some of these cakes are topped with a glaze but others are not. This cake makes a delicious dessert for all of your holiday celebrations or any time of the year. There is nothing quite like this fruitcake, so be sure you try out our recipe below. 

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Panettone is also known as Italian Fruitcake

Italian fruit cake is also known primarily as Panettone. Rather than the fruitcake you and I might think of, which is dense, very rich, and loaded with different types of fruit, Italian fruit cake is a delicious fruit-filled sweet bread. 

What is a panettone cake?

Panettone cake or bread is a type of sweet bread that is filled with all kinds of delicious fruits and nuts. It is ironic because of the towering shape of the bread, and its delicious buttery texture. There is nothing quite like Italian fruit cake. 

Italian Sweet Bread Loaf Made for Christmas

Italian fruit cake is a Christmas favorite recipe. This delicious sweet bread is packed full of delicious fruity flavors, accompanied by an amazing buttery texture like no other. To make this delicious recipe you will need the following ingredients. 

Ingredients you will need

Active dry yeast. Active dry yeast is an essential ingredient that will help the dough rise. 

Warm milk. We recommend using whole milk or 2% milk that has been warmed to the touch. Typically, this can be done by microwaving it for a minute or two. 

Granulated sugar. Using finally granulated sugar will help to sweeten the dough and make it taste delicious. 

Bread flour. For the fruitcake to turn out correctly, it’s important to use bread flour rather than all-purpose flour. 

Salt. We recommend using sea salt for this recipe although any type of fine salt will work. 

Eggs. Eggs will go into the batter of this recipe as well as in an egg wash. 

Unsalted butter. For best results, we recommend using unsalted butter that has sat at room temperature to make it soft. However, if needed you can use salted butter, simply be aware that this will add extra salt to the bread, so you may want to cut back on the salt added. 

Almonds. Blanched whole almonds are what are commonly included in this fruit cake recipe, however, you can use any type of almonds as long as they are safe and ready to be included in baked goods. 

Fruit Juice. Although we recommend soaking your fruit in fruit juice before incorporating it into the bread, you could also use your favorite liquor if desired. 

Zest. We recommend using a little bit of orange zest or lemon zest to give you our bread and nice overall fruity flavor. 

Dried fruit. There are many different types of dried fruit you can find included in Italian fruit cake. Traditionally dried cranberries and dried raisins are the most common, but you can use any kind of dried fruit you desire. 

Candied fruit. You can also include a variety of candied fruit if you want. Candied fruits such as cherry, lemon, or orange peels are commonly found in Italian fruit cake. However, the great thing about making your own is that you can get creative and include whatever types of fruit you wish.  

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How to make Panforte Italian Fruit Cake

Prepare the Fruit

First, although not required, we strongly recommend that you soak the fruit overnight before proceeding to make the bread. To do this, add your dried fruit, candied fruit, and fruit juice. Mix the ingredients together, cover them with plastic wrap, and allow them to sit in a cool dark location overnight.

Prepare the Dough

Now to make the dough, heat your milk so that it is lukewarm. This means it should be slightly warm to the touch. 

Add in the yeast and sugar. Stir until mixed and yeast is dissolved. Let rest for five minutes, so that the mixture begins to foam. 

Add flour, and eggs, then mix until the bread mixture is smooth. Add salt and mix to combine. 

Cut the soft butter into small cubes. Add the cubes of soft butter to the mixture slowly allowing the butter to mix in.

Knead the dough using the mixer until the dough becomes soft and glossy. Let the mixer knead the dough for approximately five minutes for this to occur. 

Grease in a large mixing bowl, and gently scrape the dough into the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge to allow it to proof overnight or for several hours. 

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Make the Panettone

When you are ready to make your Italian fruit cake, clean, and flour your work surface. Pour the dough from your greased pan and roll the dough flat. Be sure to leave the dough approximately ¼ to 1/3 inch thick. 

Drain the liquid from your prepared fruit and cover the rolled out dough with the fruit. Roll the dough into a ball and carefully distribute the fruit throughout the dough. 

Using a Panettone paper or Panettone tin, grease the entire inside of your surface to help prevent the fruit cake from sticking. 

Carefully drop the dough ball into your baking container. Arrange almonds on top of the dough if desired. 

Cover the dough loosely with a damp tea cloth or towel. 

Let the dough rise in a warm, dry location for approximately two hours or until it has risen well above the top of the baking tin or paper.  

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the remaining egg until very well scrambled. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and mix thoroughly. Brush the top of that Italian fruit cake with this egg wash. 

Place the cake into the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F (177°C).

After 20 minutes have passed, decrease the oven temperature to 350°F (149°C), and continue baking for another 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the fruit cake comes out clean. 

Remove the cake from the oven when it is fully cooked. If using a Panettone tin (or cake pan), let the cake cool in the tin for approximately 5 to 10 minutes then transfer the cake to a wire cooling rack to allow it to cool to room temperature.

If using Panettone paper, simply place it onto a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool to room temperature.

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How to Glaze a Fruit Tart

If desired you can make a simple icing for the Italian fruit cake. Although this is not necessarily traditional, it does add a delicious sweetness to the cake. 

To make the icing you will need 2 cups of powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of light corn syrup, a pinch of sea salt, and approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of cold water or milk, or enough liquid to make it moist.

Combine these ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and then drizzle on top of your prepared and cooled Italian fruitcake.

How to Decorate a Fruit Tart

If desired, you can decorate the top of your cooled Panettone Italian fruit cake with fresh or dried fruit. The easiest way to do this is to drizzle some icing on top of the fruitcake, then while the icing is still wet, press your desired fruit into the glaze. 

How to Store Panettone

The best way to store leftover Italian fruit cake is to store it in an airtight container at room temperature. When stored properly in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dark location it will last approximately seven days. 

If desired, you can also freeze your leftover Italian fruit cake. To do this, transfer the cake to an airtight container or seal it in a plastic freezer bag. Be sure to label and date the bag, then place it in the freezer for up to two months. 

To thaw a frozen Italian fruit cake, you will want to remove it directly from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight or until it is thawed.

To warm it back up you can place a slice in the air fryer or warm the whole thing in the oven for a few minutes just until it is warmed through. 

You will want to warm it in the oven at 300°F or 350°F but keep an eye on it so that the bread does not become crispy. You could also place a small bowl of water in the oven when you are reheating it to help keep the cake moist. 

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Top Tips and Recipe FAQs

Can Panettone be frozen?

Yes, Italian fruit cake can be frozen if desired. Be sure to store in an airtight container or seal it in a plastic freezer bag before freezing for up to two months.

What does panettone mean?

Panettone is a sweet Italian bread that is rich in flavor, and loaded with various types of fruit. The bread is known for its rich and buttery flavors. 

How do you make the tall panettone shape?

The key to making the tall bread is to be sure to include it in a tall pan with greased sides, then make sure that the bread has plenty of time to rise high.

Allowing enough time for the bread to rise high is the most essential key to having a tall Italian fruit cake. 

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Classic Christmas Italian Panettone

Italian fruit cake also known as Panettone is a classic Christmas and New Year’s cake primarily in Italy but loved throughout many parts of Europe. This fruit cake is a delicious buttery bread that is rich in flavor and loaded with many different kinds of fruit.

There is nothing quite like this amazing dessert. Give this recipe a try and let us know what you think! 

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