Chocolate Panettone Baked in Folded Paper Baskets

I had three goals in making this Chocolate Panettone, a new bread for me:

  1. To make a panettone that my daughter would like. M has an inexplicable dislike of fruit in bread, (indeed, in most baked things; this is inexplicable because she is my flesh and blood). Although fruitless chocolate panettone is not traditional, I have seen it now and then, and I thought M might give it a thumbs-up.
  2. To bake a panettone that, unlike the wild yeast one I usually bake (and love), does not take a good 30 hours to make. While that is a delicious panttone that keeps quite a long time, and the weekend-long process is starting to feel like a necessary holiday ritual for me, sometimes you just can’t invest that kind of time, and why should that have to mean going without home-baked panettone completely?
  3. To try my idea of making folded paper baskets to bake the bread in. You can of course buy paper panettone molds and other decorative, bake-in-to-give-away, paper “pans,” but they’re expensive (and I just like to make things).

So here’s how everything worked out:

M did give the bread a big nod. She likes chocolate. She doesn’t like fruit in bread. I like fruit more than chocolate, especially in panettone. But if you have a chocolate-loving person who drives you crazy because she dislikes fruit and has a smart mouth and steals your makeup and doesn’t always call to check in when she’s supposed to, but who is brilliant and kind and hilarious and beautiful and makes your heart sing every day, chocolate panettone is a good thing to make for her.

I loosely adapted this formula from the (non-chocolate) Panettone With Sponge in Michel Suas’ Advanced Bread and Pastry. At only about nine hours from starting to eating, it was “lightning-fast” to make. It dried out faster than my regular panettone, which I attribute both to the lack of natural starter and to the lower percentage of butter in this one. Also, the flavor was not as complex, due to the faster process as well as the absence of fruit.

I would like to try a sponge-based panettone again, with more butter, plus the usual raisins and candied citrus fruits and minus the chocolate, to get a better idea of how it stacks up to the traditional natural-starter one. However, this is still a pretty good version if you want something fast(er), lower-fat (but don’t kid yourself, this is not a health bread), and chocolate. My co-workers loved it.

My homemade paper molds were a great success, if I do say so myself. Although they have a rustic look, I think they’re attractive enough for gift breads, and they’re easy and inexpensive to make.

I’m not an origami expert, but I found instructions for a simple basket, and made each one with two layers of paper — unbleached baking parchment on the inside and plain white paper or brown mailing paper on the outside — folded together as though they were a single sheet.

For these 300-gram panettone loaves, I started with 8 x 10-inch paper, which yields a 4 x 5-inch basket with 2-inch-high sides. I think I could have made the loaves up to about 350 grams for this size basket. If you know more about origami than I do, I’m sure you can figure out how to fold a mold with taller sides, more like the traditional panettone shape. But these are easy, even for a beginner like me, and surprisingly sturdy. I think they would even hold up to the wet batter of a cake or quick bread.

A couple of caveats: I avoided colored or printed papers, since I wasn’t sure if the inks would give off any toxic substances in a hot oven. If anyone has any insights here, please enlighten me. Also, paper burns at around 450F, so I wouldn’t use these for anything that bakes at above 425 or so. And I hope it goes without saying that you need to keep the paper well away from the oven elements.

For general tips on making panettone, including why and how to hang it after baking, please read my original Panettone post. This recipe calls for the loaves to proof in a humid, 80F environment. Inside the oven, with the light turned on and an open bowl of hot water, works well; just make sure to remove the loaves before preheating the oven!

Chocolate Panettone (With Sponge)

Yield: about 900 g (3 loaves)


  • Mix and ferment sponge: 2 hours
  • Mix final dough: 30 minutes
  • First fermentation: 10 minutes
  • Divide, rest, and shape: 35 minutes
  • Proof: 3.5 hours
  • Bake: 35 minutes
  • Hang/cool: 2 hours

Sponge Ingredients:

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 138 g flour
  • 55 g cold milk
  • 3.5 g (generous 1/2 t.) salt
  • 2.2 g (scant 3/4 t.) instant yeast
  • 55 g egg yolk
  • All of the sponge
  • scraped seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 69 g fine granulated sugar
  • 69 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 200 g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (include the chocolate “dust” generated by the chopping)

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 55 g granulated sugar
  • 3 g ground almonds (or almond flour)
  • 4 g vegetable oil
  • 4 g corn flour
  • 4 g cocoa powder
  • 30 g egg whites
  • scraped seeds from 1/5 of a vanilla bean
  • pearl sugar for topping

Special Supplies:

  • three origami baskets or paper panettone molds
  • six bamboo skewers


  1. To make the sponge, mix all of the sponge ingredients in a medium bowl until just combined. Cover and ferment for 2 hours at room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the final dough flour, milk, salt, yeast, egg yolks, and sponge. Mix in low speed until the ingredients are just combined.
  3. Turn the mixer to medium speed if it has one, mix for a minute or two, then continue to mix while slowly adding the sugar, in about 4 or 5 increments. Mix for about two minutes between additions.
  4. Continue to mix in medium speed until the gluten is almost fully developed.
  5. Turn the mixer back to low speed and add the butter. Mix for a minute in low speed, then in medium speed until the butter is completely incorporated into the dough and the gluten has reached full development.
  6. In low speed, add the chocolate, mixing just until it is evenly distributed.
  7. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Turn the dough onto a lightly buttered counter. Divide the dough into three pieces, and form each piece into a light ball.
  9. Allow the balls to rest, covered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, run two bamboo skewers along the bottom of each mold or basket.
  10. Shape the dough into tight balls and place into the skewered molds. If you’re using rectangular baskets like mine, flatten the dough slightly so it spreads towards the sides of the basket.
  11. Proof at a humid 80F for about 3.5 hours, until the dough has increased approximately 2.5 times in volume. The bottom of the dough “dome” should still be below the top of the mold, although the top of the dough may be above it.
  12. When the dough is nearly fully proofed, preheat the oven to 350F, with the rack in the lower third of the oven.
  13. To mix the glaze, whisk all ingredients, except the pearl sugar, together. Brush the glaze evenly onto the top of the loaves (don’t worry if it pools where the dough meets the mold) and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
  14. Place the loaves directly on the oven rack and bake for about 30 – 35 minutes, until the tops are dark brown and the internal temperature is at least 185F.
  15. While the panettone is baking, set up your hanging apparatus. When the bread is done, hang them as quickly as possible.
  16. Allow the panettone to hang for at least two hours, until cool.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    This sounds nice! I too have an inexplicable hatred for preserved fruit in general and in Panettone in specific, but your recipe sounds like something to try :)

  2. says

    o wow Susan, this looks so lovely and christmassy. I love those handmade shapes the panettone is baked in, really something to try out myself. Clever how you put the squewers in from the start! I don’t know how I ever get my to-bake-list shorter when you make things like these!! Beautiful!

  3. says

    Last year I try to make my own Panettone mold, with no success. It was leeking. The final panettone was a diasaster. So thank you very much for the tip. I will try it again.

  4. says

    Susan, this is brilliant!! I’ve always wanted to make panettone but I never buy big tins and I don’t have the original mold! What a fantastic idea, I have to give it a try very soon!! Thank you!

  5. says

    I too have a recipe that I haven’t even looked into yet! But I love the way you have shown this – and the chocolate too:). My daughter too dislikes fruited loaves!

  6. says

    I have serious panettone dreams every year, and every year my husband has serious panettone nightmares–in the end we buy it, but this looks so doable. Plus I adore the rustic look.

  7. chris in ri says

    Aren’t you a clever monkey? I remember your panettone post from last year and it seemed just too daunting for me tor try (plus it’s not my favorite), but this one might make the holiday baking cut.

    I love the paper basket idea, and also your description of “M”. That is how I would describe my own “M”, except since she’s 5, we haven’t had the calling to check in thing yet.

    Also, how about an update on the outdoor oven? I would love one myself and am living vicariously through your progress. It looked great as of the last update…how’s the baking going and is the final coat on it?

    Chris in RI

  8. says

    What a perfect time to make panettone, Susan.
    I was going planning to make it, I’ve browsed through your pages and found your earlier recipe. I was so overwhelmed by the process that almost put me off. Luckily, when I woke up this morning and visit your site, voila! There is another one. And, it seems like I can do this one just fine. Wait, I have to find a place to hang them so that my 2 dogs won’t be tempted to gobble them!

  9. says

    Wow. May I comment on that last picture? If that were in my kitchen… crash! Either that or the dog would sit next to it (like she did the turkey) pretending to be its best friend. What a creative and fun idea though :)

  10. says

    Wow, that looks gorgeous.
    I am 100 percent with your daughter — no dried fruit in my breads, or in my cakes. (In a chewy texture they are ok, and I like them in a salad.)

  11. says

    I love everything about this post, the bread, the baskets, and how you finished them off. Thanks, and I am putting this on my to do list.

  12. says

    Hi Susan!
    You are a true genius! What a great idea to use origami!
    My first experience of panettone was with a chocolate one, I carried it home to England all the way from beautiful Venice a few years back, to deveour with my hubby. A year later, I spotted the same brand and type in a gardening centre and I think I bought 3 or 4 to give (grudgingly) away. So I’m definitely a chocolate panettone fan, but dried fruit is nice too, as long as it doesn’t dominate and is well soaked in rum. I’m so going to have to try these out.
    Thank you for this great idea,

  13. says

    I love your idea of using the papers -it looks wonderful. The chocolate panettone sounds intriguing, but I’m gravitating towards trying your 30-hour panettone!

  14. says

    YOU are amazing! I love everything about this bread. The recipe, the idea, the basket and the daughter story. I love that line, the daughter who steals your makeup… but makes you heart sing every day. I just love that. Made me smile and want to cry at the same time.

  15. says

    Oh, Susan! This is just gorgeous. I am with you, I love my panettone with fruit but this one is too good not to try and the baskets are just adorable. You are very creative!

  16. Margie says

    Susan, I’m so impressed by your work. The origami was one thing, but a chocolate panettone? Oh, you are off the charts with this effort!
    I have longed to make a panettone, but have held off with the fear that I can’t hang those dad-gummed things, let alone, compile them. Then…well, you go and not only bake them, but you create their baking mold!
    I’m beyond impressed, I’ve moved into the green-with-envy mode!
    P.S. Kudos…and then some!

  17. says

    That paper basket is genius! What a great idea! I love this post because I can hear myself in it so much… comparing a 30 hour bread to a 9 hour bread… The shorter breads are easier, but just never quite as delicious. I think non-bread bakers just think we sound slightly deranged when we say things like this. :)

  18. says

    Daughters are special….. anything for them! Mine is making a mile long list of what treats she wants me to make over Christmas holidays!
    Lovely bread as usual.

  19. says

    Panettone is one of my Christmas goals. My mother-in-law is Italian, and I’ve love to make some for her! I love those baskets, which I think are so rustic and pretty. Thanks for the idea! I never would have thought to make baskets myself.

  20. says

    Amazing! I love your idea. As a serious origami enthusiast, I just have to try your idea of baking inside a folded paper mold. And the recipe sounds delicious, too!

  21. says

    What a lovely idea with the baskets! I’ve always been pondering how to properly wrap Christmas stollen to give as a present to friends – and I’m a pretty bad gift wrapper…
    But please tell me why do they have to cool upside down?

  22. says

    I appreciate all of the kind comments! This was a really fun one for me.

    Eva, panettone hangs upside down because it is so light that it will cave in on itself if not hung until cool. I used to scramble once they came out of the oven to get the skewers in before they fell, but then I figured out I could pre-skewer and it made things a whole lot easier.

  23. says

    Hi Susan, an idea struck me the other day. You said that you weren’t sure about using coloured paper as it might give out toxic stuff in the oven. But what if when you make the baskets, you have a third layer of paper – colourful one so that it ends up on the outside. The trick being to fold all three into a basket, then undo, take off the coloured paper and re-fold the basket. Bake as normal and when the panettones are cool, fold up the third colourful layer and stick the panettone in?
    I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow, extremely excited.

  24. says

    The bread looks good, like all the others you bake. I’ve never made a pannetone, should try it.
    I just love those paper bread baskets you’ve made. Gorgeous.

  25. says

    Oh yummy, another beautiful bake, and just in time to savor and save the day. I got off to a good start on holiday baking, but forgot to save some fruit for my Panettone bake. The annual fruitcake is almost gone and I need something for Christmas Eve. (One can never go wrong with chocolate) :)
    I LOVE the handmade baskets and think the rustic look makes the bread all the more special.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!
    P.S. I had a chuckle reading your notes of M…funny, I have two female chickletts whose names also start with the letter, M, and they are very similar in nature to your M. :)))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  26. mimi says

    Thanks for the detailed recipe! That hanging apparatus was just amazing :D How is the chocolate when the cake is cold, does it get solid or will it stay soft? I had some excellent panettone last christmas, and the chocolate filling was soft even though the cake itself was cold (by cold i mean room temperatured), and i was wondering if the chocolate maybe had some butter mixed in it. I hope you’ll still manage to answer this, although it’s been a while since you posted this recipe.

  27. says

    Mimi, once the panettone is cool the chocolate will have the same consistency it had before it was added to the dough. A chocolate filling that stays soft probably indicates some additional ingredients besides the chocolate itself, perhaps butter or cream.

  28. says

    Hey, I love this simpler version of panettone.
    I’ll make mine filled with chocolate chunks, chopped nuts and some dried apricot. :)

    You know, I got very interested in the colored paper issue, and I think Caramella’s solution seems nice. Have you found any other way to deal with this?
    Also, here are the links to two origami boxes that might work well for panettones and other breads:

  29. says

    A question, s’il vous plait: Did you ever go on to do a sponge-started panettone with the traditional citrus and raisins (and the extra butter … mmm, butter) as alluded to in the introduction to this EXCELLENT recipe? If you did, I can’t find it in your index and I would appreciate being pointed to the correct spot. And if you didn’t … why the heck not???

    LOVE the site. You are like a beacon of baking awesomeness.

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