A recipe for Gluten Free Lemon Panettone with White Chocolate that is simply the BEST wheat-free Panettone I’ve tasted. Made the traditional way, it’s light, airy and lastingly fresh. Eat in place of traditional Christmas fruit Panettone or make as a Gluten Free Easter Colomba di Pasqua.
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Why you’ll love my Gluten Free Lemon Panettone with White Chocolate
Let’s cut to the chase… My Gluten Free Lemon Panettone with White Chocolate is hands-down the BEST gluten free Panettone I have EVER eaten! The texture is INCREDIBLE and the flavour divine. While there are several processes used to make it, the recipe (which is broken down into stages) is actually easier than it looks (I promise!)… But because it is made the traditional Italian way, you can be sure that the lightness and airy texture will blow your mind… Without doubt, you’ll be left asking yourself ‘how can this ever really be gluten free?’.
Better still… even though it’s gluten free, my Lemon Panettone still stays fresh for SEVERAL days. Longer even than my classic fruit Christmas Gluten Free Panettone or Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Panettone.
While my Lemon Panettone was made over Christmas, I ran out of time getting it posted on the blog… And while Christmas has passed, I’ve been craving more of it ever since… With Easter coming, I’ve found my excuse to make it… I remembered that the equivalent Citrus Easter Panettone (or Colomba di Pasqua) is still a big deal in Italy… So figured that now is a good time to share…
The texture of Panettone
Italian Panettone is a cross between subtly sweet bread and a yeasted cake. It should have a light, open and airy crumb with irregular air pockets… And be neither too moist nor too dry. The texture is nothing like a standard cake and should never be ‘tight’. A genuine panettone is all about the crumb!
Head over to my Instagram post to see a video of the AMAZING texture you’ll achieve with my Gluten Free Lemon Panettone recipe.
Christmas Panettone or Easter Colomba di Pasqua? One recipe… Two gluten free celebrations…
When it comes to Italian celebrations, Christmas and Easter are at the top of the list. And while Christmas is celebrated with traditional Fruit Panettone (or an alternative Pandoro), at Easter, this is replaced with Colomba di Pasqua cake.
The key differences between the two are
- Shape – a Colomba di Pasqua (or Easter Dove) is shaped a bit like a bird.
- And Flavour – Colomba di Pasqua is usually flavoured with citrus (candied peel and lemon) and topped with almonds and white sugar pearly sprinkles. The cake is also sometimes additionally ‘pimped’ with a little chocolate too.
In essence though, the doughs used to make each are equal… Not too sweet, light, uneven and open crumb… etc. And the traditional processes for making both are also much the same… including the need to hang the freshly baked cakes upside-down to cool and ‘set’.
While the dove shape of a Colomba di Pasqua is symbolic of new life, peace and resurrection, I’ll be honest, you’d be hard-pressed to recognise it as a bird without that knowledge. It’s simply a different shaped baking mould that is used.
Either way… The recipe shared here for Gluten Free Lemon Panettone would equally fit for a traditional Italian Easter Cake, whether as a dove or a dome.
Ingredients used to make Gluten Free Lemon Panettone and why they matter…
When I developed my original Gluten Free Panettone, I shared the recipe with photographs of the process and lots of tips and advice for getting it right. As gluten free Panettone is not made by standard cake-baking rules, I advise that you read that previous post before making my Lemon Panettone.
Regardless, it is essential (as with any less-familiar recipe) to follow what is written. A recipe is your ‘how to’ instruction manual. When things don’t turn out as you expect, it is most commonly because the recipe was not followed. If the ingredients or the method are changed, the result will NOT be the same.
I appreciate that there are those who will read this recipe and simply dismiss it as ‘too many ingredients’. But I make no apology. Achieving a gluten free Panettone that rivalled the real deal, required a LOT of thinking outside the box… And all I could muster from my (now many years) of understanding the foibles of gluten free baking and the various ingredients available to make it work.
And with that, these are the crucial ingredients by which this recipe has been developed and the reasoning behind them…
The Gluten Free Flour Blend
Change this at your peril. It really does matter! The gluten free flour blend has been crafted specifically for this recipe… A measured balance of white starch flours (each with individual qualities) and some protein. And while it remains in your gift to ‘experiment’ with alternatives, my advice is to avoid doing so if at all possible.
With one exception… For those unable to tolerate (or buy) gluten free oats, this gluten free Lemon Panettone has been alternatively tested with Sorghum Flour in its place.
Note the potato, corn and tapioca listed are all of the white STARCH variety. Glutinous rice flour (also known as sticky rice flour, sweet rice flour and Mochiko) is an essential ingredient in the blend and has very different properties from standard white rice flour. It can be found in Asian supermarkets and online. This is the brand that I use.
Psyllium Husk and Xanthan Gum
While my gluten free Lemon Panettone includes both Psyllium Husk and Xanthan Gum (and indeed, both are important to overall texture), the Psyllium is a crucial ingredient. Do NOT try to make the recipe without it. It offers structure, hydration, texture and shelf-life to the final cake.
You will need to use a rough-ground psyllium (NOT fine powder). I personally buy whole husks that I then briefly blitz in a blender at home.
Ginger powder in the flour blend
You may be wondering why there’s ground ginger in the flour blend. Well… while you can’t actually taste it in the Panettone, it’s a little bit of culinary magic to boost the rise!
The fruit and citrus in Gluten Free Lemon Panettone
To make this Lemon Panettone as flavoursome as possible, I use a few variants of lemon in the mix…
The main fruit add-in is chopped Italian mixed citrus (lemon and orange) peel, which (because I am lazy) I simply buy from the supermarket. However, you can always make your own.
Then there’s also lemon juice, extract, zest and a tot of Limoncello in the mix.
For colour and extra interest, I’ve added a little chopped glacé cherry too (although this can be replaced with extra peel or left out altogether).
For a more classic Easter Colomba di Pasqua, you could also sub some of the lemon zest and extract for orange equivalents.
Soaking the fruit and zest…
When making a gluten free Lemon Panettone, it’s important to soak the dried fruit before it is added to the mix. Fruit that has not been hydrated will take additional moisture from the dough resulting in a cake that is dry and crumbly.
The fruit is hydrated by soaking in lemon juice. This ensures the citrus integrity and a more intense lemon flavour in the final bake. Although in previous Panettone recipes, I have chosen to soak the fruit in liqueur, lemon juice ensured a greater flavour hit for this version… Importantly, it also brought anti-bacterial properties which supported shelf-life.
My gluten free Lemon Panettone has been developed and tested using Dried Active Yeast. This is a type of dried yeast that needs to be activated BEFORE being added to the dough mix. Do NOT use instant yeast. The dough is twice-proofed, allowing time for hydration and balance in the dough structure.
I use Allinson’s Dried Active Yeast, which is available in many supermarkets. Otherwise, look for something with similar qualities, but make sure you check the ingredients list on the pack for any hidden gluten. There are a number of brands of yeast which (for some unfathomable reason) contain added wheat.
Eggs for making Lemon Panettone
Eggs are essential to the structural integrity and rise of Panettone. However, as egg size labelling varies around the world, it is really important to ensure the eggs used are equal to UK Large eggs (with which the recipe was created). To make this more straightforward, I have an International Guide to Egg Size and Weight comparison chart to help you.
On the recipe card, I have also stated the weight range of liquid egg measured when testing the recipe at home, to remove any doubt.
Milk and milk powder
This gluten free Lemon Panettone recipe uses milk in two forms and both are important:
- Full fat (‘whole’) liquid milk – Because whole milk has a higher fat content, it supports the structure and shelf life of the Panettone.
- Milk powder (skimmed is fine) – This offers additional protein for tenderness and structure. In testing, the Panettone was made both with and without the powder. And yes… it makes a difference.
Another obvious question is why my gluten free Lemon Panettone recipe asks for honey rather than standard sugar. And like every other ingredient in the list, it has been cross-tested and carefully added for a reason…
Honey provides a more natural (unrefined) sweetness. But also (due to incredible anti-bacterial properties) provides additional softness and improved shelf-life.
The glycerine (which may be new to some of you) also has a purpose. Often used in commercial baking to improve softness and shelf-life, it achieves the same here! So it stayed as part of the final recipe.
Glycerine is usually found in supermarkets in the baking aisle.
The importance of hanging Lemon Panettone upside down to cool
In Italy, Panettone (whether gluten free or not) is traditionally hung upside-down to cool. This is both an authentic and necessary part of the process, to ensure the cake structure ‘sets’ without sinking as it cools and retains its open crumb.
In keeping with the authenticity of texture and process, my gluten free Lemon Panettone MUST also be cooled upside down. This is not something which can be avoided (unless you want a sunken, dense result). The turning and hanging needs to be done immediately after removal from the oven, to ensure the perfectly domed cake remains that way.
The logistics of suspending your Panettone need to be considered in advance of baking it. While your ‘how’ will be largely dependent on the options available in your kitchen, I advise reading my tips and advice outlined in this previous Panettone post to help you work it out.
Do I need a traditional paper mould to bake gluten free Lemon Panettone?
Absolutely Yes! Do NOT try making this Panettone recipe without a traditional paper mould/case. The case (to which the cake ‘sticks’) is essential to maintaining the structure of the cake. It also supports it when suspended upside down, providing a stable frame for the hanging skewers.
A traditional Panettone case is made from robust, bake-proof paper. Made for single use (and ‘peeled’ from the side of the cake as it is sliced), Panettone moulds are graded according to the weight of the cake being baked.
The recipe shared here for Gluten Free Lemon Panettone makes a 750g cake. As I already had a Panettone tin which was 6 inches wide and 5 inches tall, I specifically obtained cases to fit that, which I found at Bakery Bits. Here’s the link. Either way, the important thing is to use a specialised paper case… Max 750g. If the cases you find are smaller, just split the mix between them.
Should I also use a metal Panettone baking tin?
Whether you also need a metal Panettone tin to bake your cake will largely depend on the thickness of the paper mould used. Personally, I have only tested the mould + tin approach. It is possible that this may also provide extra protection for the baking dough against the harsh heat of the oven. But I can’t be certain.
Any tin used will need to be as deep as the Panettone mould and have the same diameter (or be fractionally larger). The tin used for my tall 750g moulds was a 6” wide by 5” high Springform tin sourced from Amazon. Ensure the tin used is springform or has a ‘loose bottom’ to enable quick removal for suspending the Panettone upside down as soon as it is baked.
For small, individual Panettone, a metal tin is not required.
How to eat Gluten Free Lemon Panettone or Colomba di Pasqua
The ULTIMATE way to enjoy gluten free Lemon Panettone (or indeed Colomba di Pasqua) is fresh and as it comes (once it has completely cooled)… Simply peel back the paper from the side… and enjoy in tall, indulgent wedges, ripped into pieces and munched with a HUGE smile on your face.
In Italy, this gorgeously citrus cake is often served with a glass of Prosecco or dessert wine. But it is equally delicious with a cup of coffee (or dare I say it… very British tea).
Lemon Panettone is perfect paired with fresh berries, slathered with lemon or Citrus Curd, or topped with custard or cream.
My gluten free Lemon Panettone should stay fresh enough to eat this way for about 4 days (see ‘storage’ advice below). However should you have any left beyond this, it is wonderful toasted and buttered, turned into Panettone French Toast, or Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding.
How to store gluten free Lemon Panettone
Your gluten free Lemon Panettone has a surprisingly good shelf-life of 4+ days providing it is stored correctly…
- Allow to cool COMPLETELY before wrapping tightly in clingfilm (or similar).
- Store at ROOM TEMPERATURE… Do NOT keep it in the fridge.
While I haven’t yet tried freezing Panettone, there is no reason why it can’t be done, provided it is well-wrapped and airtight. If it is not as soft as you would like when defrosted, simply serve toasted, or pop each slice in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.
Ready to make gluten free Lemon Panettone?
Please, PLEASE don’t be put off by the number of ingredients needed to make this Lemon Panettone. They are honestly no reflection of the skill required to make it. And if I can do it… ANYONE can! I have no formal training in either cooking or baking (other than a fairly mediocre school O’Level from the 80’s).
Being of Italian heritage, getting this one right was close to my heart… So I am certain that it is worth the effort to bake. Plus… ALL the photos are genuine and taken by myself of the ACTUAL cake! I only mention this, because when I recently did a quick ‘google search’ of gluten free Panettone (to check my recipes were still findable), I discovered a well-ranked gluten free blog recipe that had used a photo from an Italian website of a normal wheat Panettone to ‘sell’ it. Not only untruthful but very misleading too!
If you do make THIS version, I’d love to hear from you. And if you need any advice or help, I’m always happy to be contacted… by comment at the bottom, email, or message on social media. (Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest (@glutenfreealchemist)).
And for everything else, check out our Gluten Free Recipe Index… It’s the best place to start your gluten free foodie journey!
Shared with my love
** © 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved. Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist.**
Gluten Free Lemon & White Chocolate Chip Panettone
- Springform/loose-bottomed Panettone tin or deep cake tin of appropriate size (for 750g Panettone)
- 750g Panettone paper case to fit the size and shape of the chosen tin
- large, deep tin to 'suspend' the Panettone upside down to cool
- 2 to 3 long skewers
- cling film
- 115 g Italian chopped mixed peel
- 60 g glacé cherries chopped
- zest 3 lemons finely grated (or 2 lemons and 1 orange)
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
Psyllium Husk Hydration
- 14 g ground psyllium husk
- 190 g/ml warm (Full Fat/Whole) milk
- 15 g dried active yeast NOT instant yeast
- 30 g runny honey
- 60 g/ml hand warm milk (Full Fat/Whole milk) optimum temperature 38 C/100F
Gluten Free Flour Blend
- 90 g glutinous rice flour also known as Mochiko, sticky Asian rice flour and sweet rice flour (available in Asian supermarkets and online)
- 90 g oat flour or sorghum flour if oats cannot be eaten
- 30 g potato STARCH
- 90 g tapioca STARCH
- 75 g corn STARCH fine white powder, known in the UK as cornflour
- 3 g fine sea salt = approx ½ teaspoon
- 1½ tsp xanthan gum
- 1½ tsp baking powder gluten free
- 45 g caster sugar
- ½ tsp ground ginger powder
- 3 tbsp milk powder
Additional base-dough ingredients
- 150 g unsalted hard block butter cold and cubed
- 3 large eggs At room temperature – UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’) – approx. weight out of shell 171 to 177g
- 2¼ tsp glycerine
- 3 tsp lemon extract
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Limoncello liqueur or alternatively milk
- 75 g white chocolate chips
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- ½ tbsp sugar crystals (approx. amount to sprinkle) – I used Demerara
- 1 tbsp flaked almonds to sprinkle
- Weigh the fruit, zest and lemon juice into a bowl. Stir.
- Cover the bowl and soak for several hours, stirring again before using.
Psyllium Husk Hydration
- Weigh the ground psyllium husk into a small bowl and add the 190g portion of warm milk
- Stir well and leave to stand for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes to hydrate.
- Weigh the yeast and honey into a small bowl and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Add the 60g warm milk being very careful to check the temperature is hand warm (38 C/100 F).
- Lightly whisk the mixture to blend and to help the yeast dissolve.
- Set aside to stand in a warm place for 10 minutes. The mix should become frothy and develop a ‘head’. If it doesn’t, the room may be too cold or the yeast may be ‘dead’. To test again, stir through and set the bowl over a mug of steaming water. Leave for a further 10 minutes. If the mix still doesn’t froth, the yeast is no good (the milk was too hot or the yeast too old). Throw it away and start the yeast activation stage again.
Gluten Free Flour Blend
- Weigh all the flour blend ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well until evenly combined. (If using a stand mixer, weigh directly into the mixer bowl).
Making the Panettone Dough and Proof 1
- Rub the cold, cubed butter into the flour blend with finger tips, until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
- Break the eggs into a bowl (weigh if possible, to check they are in weight range) and beat lightly with a fork.
- Add the egg to the flour bowl along with the hydrated psyllium and activated yeast.
- Also add the glycerine, lemon extract and lemon juice.
- Using an electric mixer (hand or stand) with dough hooks attached, beat the mixture well until it becomes a stiff batter.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a firm spatula and re-mix for a further 4 to 5 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, pulling the dough-batter into the centre of the bowl in a rounded pile (so that any batter stuck to the sides doesn’t dry out).
- Set the mixer aside… you will need it again later!
- Cover the bowl with a plate or some clingfilm (not touching the batter) and set aside in a warm place for an hour +, until the dough has doubled in size. This is the first proof.
Preparing the Panettone tin and ‘suspension’ tin
- While proof 1 is taking place, prepare the Panettone tin, by lining with a Panettone paper case (for a 750g Panettone). I use a spring-form (or loose-bottom) Panettone tin (as you will need to be able to release, remove and invert the baked Panettone quickly without squashing) – size diameter 6” (15 cm) x height 5” (12.5 cm). The paper Panettone case is essential. Do not make the bake without this.But the important thing re size, is that the case is for 750g and you have a supportive cake tin to place it in.
- You will also need to have ready a second tin/vessel/saucepan/or alternative mechanism to invert the Panettone as soon as it comes out of the oven. The vessel needs to be taller and wider than the baked Panettone itself. Bear in mind and calculate that the Panettone will rise above the case in height. The Panettone will need to be cooled upside down and suspended so that its inverted ‘top’ is not touching anything. I use a second tin that is 7” (18 cm) diameter x 7” (18 cm) tall, but your choice will need to work with your own Panettone size and shape.
- Also have ready 2 to 3 long skewers (metal or wood) with sharp points, that will fit through and beyond the Panettone sides.
Adding the Chocolate Chips and Fruit to the Dough and Second Proof
- Once the dough has doubled in size, ‘knock it back’ by beating again thoroughly with the mixer and dough hooks.
- Add the soaked fruit to the dough, being sure to scrape all remaining liquid from the bowl.
- Add the chocolate chips to the dough along with the liqueur.
- Beat the dough with the mixer and dough hooks until the dough is even in consistency and the chocolate chips and fruit are evenly distributed. If the add-ins have ‘bunched’ and not distributed well, use a firm spoon or spatula to give the dough a final mix by hand, to ensure it is even.
- Transfer the dough to the Panettone case (it should reach almost two-thirds of the height of the case), and smooth the top with the back of a spoon, or spatula. (Make sure there are no large air-pockets, by pushing down well as you fill the case).
- Cover the top of the Panettone tin and case lightly with clingfilm and place in a warmish room to proof for approximately 1½ hours (dependent on air temperature).
- The Panettone will be risen enough when the dough reaches almost the top of the case. Keep an eye on it.
Baking the Panettone
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 when the dough has nearly finished its second proof.
- When ready to bake, gently glaze the top of the dough with beaten egg-wash using a pastry brush.
- Sprinkle the top with the sugar and some flaked almonds.
- Gently place in the oven on a baking tray (for base-heat protection).
- Bake at 180 C for 25 minutes and then turn the oven down to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2 (do NOT open the oven door).
- Bake for a further approx. 40 to 45 minutes. The Panettone will be well risen, golden and firm on the top and a skewer inserted will come out clean.
Inverting, Suspending and Cooling the Panettone
- BEFORE removing the Panettone from the oven, be sure to have everything you need ready to invert the cake.
- Remove the Panettone from the oven and immediately but gently remove the cake from the side-panel of the external metal tin (leaving the base and cake in place on the baking tray).
- Then immediately insert the skewers parallel through the sides of the cake paper wrapper, pushing through to the other side, as low as possible to the base of the cake (about 2 cm up from the bottom). Use two skewers placed towards either side of the cake for stability. A third is probably unnecessary.
- Working as quickly as possible, the Panettone needs to be inverted and suspended, so that it hangs from the skewers over the prepared cooling ‘vessel’. Although this can be done by hand, the cake is hot and still very soft, so any pressure will compress it. To overcome this, I have found the easiest way is to place the cooling vessel over the upright cake, so that it sits on the skewers. Then using the support of the baking tray and holding both baking tray and ‘vessel’ in place, quickly flip the whole thing over (it may help to have a second pair of hands available).
- Remove the baking tray (now on the top) and the metal base of any baking tin that was in place.
- Leave the Panettone to cool completely suspended upside down, before turning back upright.
- Store in an airtight container or well-wrapped.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist