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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Anello di Monaco Recipe | How to Make Italian Christmas Cake

Most Italian foodies are familiar with the famous Christmas cake: panettone. This holiday treat is so ubiquitous that it has overshadowed some of the other traditional Italian Christmas cakes, such as Anello di Monaco.

Anello di Monaco | Italian Christmas Cake Recipe

Anello di Monaco, hailing from the city of Mantova (Mantua), is similar to panettone in that it is based upon a buttery brioche dough which requires multiple proofing stages in order to create an incredibly light, melt-in-your-mouth texture. The advantage to Anello di Monaco is that it can be made at home in a single day (panettone takes days, with months of prep) and is relatively fool-proof (panettone is notoriously finicky).

Store-bought panettone (outside of Italy) is usually overpriced, low quality, and often stale. If you want a much better alternative that’s easy to make at home, give Anello di Monaco a try!

A Note on Ingredients

For the sake of clarity, we’ve separated the ingredients into the different stages of baking. We’ve also kept everything measured by weight. Although Anello di Monaco isn’t nearly as sensitive as panettone, where one gram can make a big difference, it’s still best to measure with precision when baking. Cups and tablespoons are anything but precise.

Anello di Monaco does require some not-so-common ingredients, but fret not! There’s definitely an option available to you.

All “gran lievitati” doughs (including panettone) require a very high protein flour in order to achieve the correct consistency. Manitoba flour is the best, but isn’t always widely available in grocery stores. One easy solution is to mix all-purpose flour with vital wheat gluten flour (available in many baking aisles) until you achieve a protein content of 14-16%. Don’t worry about the math, here’s a user-friendly calculator where you can input the protein levels of the flour you use and it will tell you exactly how to mix the ingredients.

The other somewhat rare ingredient is chestnut cream, the traditional choice for binding the delicious filling. It can be sourced online, or easily replaced with smooth peanut butter.

Watch the Pasta Grammar video:


Makes: One 8-inch cake

Cook Time: 6 to 7 hours, largely unattended

To make the yeast starter, you will need:

  • 200 grams Manitoba flour (see above)

  • 7 grams active dry yeast

  • 20 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 80 grams water

To make the “first dough,” you will need:

  • 100 grams Manitoba flour

  • 100 grams all-purpose flour

  • 20 grams whole milk

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 egg yolks

  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract

  • 30 grams spiced rum

  • 90 grams unsalted butter, room temperature, plus extra for greasing

  • 40 grams granulated sugar

  • 3 grams salt

To make the “second dough,” you will need:

  • 100 grams all-purpose flour

  • 60 grams whole milk

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 30 grams granulated sugar

  • 90 grams unsalted butter

To make the stuffing, you will need:

  • 100 grams hazelnuts

  • 100 grams almonds

  • 100 grams granulated sugar

  • 50 grams water

  • 20 grams spiced rum

  • 100 grams chestnut cream (see above)

  • 60 grams egg whites

To assemble the cake, you will need:

  • Unsalted butter

To make the glaze, you will need:

  • 220 grams powdered sugar

  • 30 grams hot water

  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon juice

The Yeast Starter

In a bowl, thoroughly mix the flour and yeast together. Add the butter and crumble it with your fingers into the flour, until it is roughly incorporated. Gradually add the water while kneading it in by hand. Once the water in incorporated, transfer the bowl contents to a clean work surface and knead until a solid dough forms. It doesn’t need to be smooth, just well-mixed.

How the Yeast Starter Should Look

Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the oven (turned off) with the oven light on. Let it rise for one hour.

The First Dough

Add the risen starter dough into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add both the Manitoba and all-purpose flours, and begin mixing at a medium/low speed with a hook attachment. Combine the  milk, egg, egg yolks, vanilla extract and rum, and add these into the mixing bowl as well. Finally, add the salt.

While the dough mixes, combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix them together with a spoon.

When the dough in the mixer is well-incorporated and has become uniform, gradually add the butter one spoonful at a time. Make sure that each butter portion is fully incorporated before adding the next. When all of the butter is incorporated, increase the speed slightly and let the dough knead until it is very smooth and elastic (check out the video above to see what it should look like).

Grease the inside of a large mixing bowl with a pat of butter. Take the mixed dough in both hands and form it into a smooth ball by stretching the sides down and tucking them underneath (again, check out the video above to see the technique).

Making a Smooth Ball

Place the dough in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in the oven with the light on for one hour.

The Second Dough

Place the newly risen dough in the bowl of the mixer and add the all-purpose flour. Mix with a hook attachment at medium/low speed. Combine the milk and egg yolk, and pour these into the mixer.

While the ingredients knead, combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix them together. Once the milk and egg are fully incorporated into the dough, add the butter one spoonful at a time. Like before, wait until each butter portion is incorporated before adding the next. When all of the butter is thoroughly mixed in, let the dough knead until it is very smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a smooth ball, place it back in the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in the oven with the light on for one hour. While you dough rises, you can make…

The Stuffing

In a food processor, blend the hazelnuts and almonds into a coarse powder (not too fine, you want some texture). Place them into a large mixing bowl.

Add the sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the syrup reaches 240°F (115°C) on an instant thermometer. Pour the syrup into the chopped nuts, along with the rum and chestnut cream. Roughly mix them together with a spatula.

Mixing the Filling

Use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites until firm peaks forms. Mix the egg whites into the nuts. Cover the filling and set aside for later.

Assembling & Baking

Liberally grease the inside of an 8-10 inch (20-25 cm) chiffon cake pan with butter. Also grease a large work surface or cutting board (you’ll want a space about 20 inches or 50 cm square).

Place the bowl of dough upside down and let the dough naturally fall out onto the work surface. Gently stretch the dough out with your hand until it forms a roughly 20 inch (50 cm) square. This will be quite easy as the dough will be very fluffy and stretchy.

Spread the filling along one edge of the dough in a 4 inch (10cm) strip. Roll the dough up, starting with this edge. It should look like a big burrito at the end. Gently press the edges of the dough together to seal the filling inside.

Rolling the Dough

Carefully lift the dough rollup and place it inside the chiffon cake pan. Press the two ends together to conceal the seam. Cover the pan in plastic wrap and let it rise in the oven with the light off until the top of the dough reaches the top edges of the pan.

When the dough is risen, remove it from the oven and preheat the oven to 335°F (170°C). Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until deeply golden on top. Let the cake cool completely before removing from the chiffon pan and proceeding to make…

The Glaze

Combine the powdered sugar, hot water and lemon juice in a large bowl. Whisk together into a thick glaze and evenly spread this over the top of the cake. Let the glaze set before serving.

Spreading the Glaze

The cake is best eaten fresh, but it will last for 3 to 4 days at room temperature, loosely covered in plastic wrap.

Buon appetito!

Want to try making panettone at home but don't want all the fuss? Lucky for you, we have a recipe for a quick and easy "panettone" that's almost as good as the real thing!

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Love this recipe! I'll make it for my husband tonight

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