Pandolce Alto

This slightly sweet fruit-and-nut-studded bread is like a cross between biscotti and a dense, moist fruitcake. This recipe is based on one used by Adriano Alvigini at his bakeshop in Savignone, Italy. To make the bread, he uses a leaven that has been passed down through his family for generations. As a substitute, we made a type of starter known as a sponge, a yeast and flour mixture that's fermented overnight to give the bread depth of flavor.

Pandolce Alto
This slightly sweet fruit-and-nut-studded bread is like a cross between biscotti and a dense, moist fruitcake.
Yield: makes 4 Small Loaves

Ingredients

  • 14 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 3 Tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 10 Tbsp. sugar
  • 13 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 14 cups golden raisins
  • 1 cup candied orange peel
  • 13 cup pine nuts

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 1⁄2 cups water to 115° in a 1-qt. saucepan over high heat. In a medium bowl, stir together the water, yeast, and 2 1⁄2 cups of the flour to form the starter. Cover with plastic wrap, let sit at room temperature until bubbly and foamy, about 4 hours, then refrigerate overnight. The starter will keep for up to 3 days.
  2. Put fennel seeds into a bowl; pour in enough boiling water to cover. Let fennel seeds soften for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Transfer reserved starter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add sugar and 1⁄2 cup tepid water; mix on low speed to combine. Add the remaining flour in 3 additions; mix until a dough forms, then continue to mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Add a third of the butter and mix until incorporated, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining butter in 2 more batches. Add fennel seeds, raisins, orange peel, and pine nuts and mix until incorporated.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, form into a ball, and cut into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball; divide balls between 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Let rise, uncovered, in a warm place until doubled in size, 2–2 1⁄2 hours.
  5. Heat oven to 350°. Using a razor blade, cut a triangle on top of each dough ball. Bake until golden, about 50 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.