Breads, Breakfast and Brunch, Dessert

Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins

Nicoletta March 27, 2019

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Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins. Soft and with the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread, Pandolce has all the fragrance and sweetness of a dessert. Also, great for breakfast, considering that raisins are very nourishing and make you start the day in the best way.

Song of the day: “home” – morgxn ft. WALK THE MOON


I am slowly getting closer to my return to Canada and to my husband. But first, there is still some more baking to do with and for my Italian family.



Easter is approaching fast and I am starting to think of recipes that are usually traditional for Easter in Italy. My mom’s handwritten recipe books are proving to be a treasure of recipes, some of which, my mom has never tried and she does not even remember where she got them from.

Pandolce: Pan(e)=Bread Dolce= Sweet

Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins, is something you would easily find on an Easter Sunday breakfast table in many Italian families. Simple, beautifully rustic, mildly sweet, it is the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee and other sweet and savory delights.

After my parents tried a slice, the flavor and texture of this Pandolce triggered a memory of days long gone at the village where they are both from. Days where the smell of freshly baked bread and sweets permeated the alleys where kids played loudly, and women in aprons, strong hands, and big smiles chitchatted while working in their kitchens.


Yeast dough

Although simple to make, Pandolce is not one of those fast baking projects, because, as a yeast bread, you have to give the dough time to rise. Twice. And knead it. Vigorously.

Whenever I can, I prefer to use fresh yeast, otherwise called baker’s yeast, or compressed yeast, but you can also use dry yeast. Fresh yeast has no artificial additives; it should be kept in the fridge and it lasts up to 4 weeks.

  • For active dry yeast, you generally need to use half the quantity of fresh yeast. Active dry yeast must be hydrated in warm water/milk before being incorporated into a dough.
  • For instant dry yeast, you need to use 1/4 of the quantity of fresh yeast. Instant yeast can be incorporated into the dough without first rehydrating it; however, it is sensitive to cold temperatures.

To me, kneading is therapeutic. If kneading by hand like me, lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until you have a smooth and elastic dough (this is the secret to obtaining a nice, soft, and well-risen yeast dough). The dough will be quite sticky, but try to avoid adding extra flour into it. It will become less sticky as it is kneaded. A bench (pastry) scraper can be helpful. If you use the dough hook of a stand mixer, it will take less time and the hook will do all the work for you.

Don’t be scared by baking with yeast!

Braided bread

Following the instructions on my mom’s book, I have made a braid with the dough, but you can also make different shapes or more complex weaves. I cut the dough ball into three parts, which I consequently rolled into 3 ropes, about 40 cm long, then I braided them into this bread.

Hope you are among the raisins lovers, like me. Here, raisins give a pronounced sweet note that makes it perfect for pairing with butter and jams.


Bring it to the table for an energetic breakfast, to start the day off right, or even as a snack, when the sweet craving hits. However, Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins is also excellent on a cheese platter, accompanied by seasoned cheeses and honey.

It lasts for a few days, and when it starts to lose its softness, it is outstanding toasted, or to make incredibly delicious French toast.


This Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins, is a traditional treat people in Italy would eat during the Easter holidays. Not only Easter Sunday, but also Pasquetta, Easter Monday, when Italians would pack it for a picnic outdoors.


Make it for your family, or if you’re hosting an Easter brunch. It looks impressive on the table and it tastes absolutely exquisite! The aroma for us Italian says Easter, and the rumble in our stomachs means we can’t wait to cut a piece and slather it with butter or jam! Once you have experienced this Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins, there will never be an Easter without it!


Song of the day: “home” – morgxn ft. WALK THE MOON

This post may contain some affiliate links. This means that if you buy a product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you).


Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 sweet braided bread 1x
  • Category: Bread, Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins. Soft and with the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread, Pandolce has all the fragrance and sweetness of a dessert. Also great for breakfast, considering that raisins are very nourishing and make you start the day in the best way.


  • 500 g flour
  • 25 g fresh baker’s yeast (12.5 g active dry yeast)
  • 100 g sugar (I used granulated)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • the grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, organic free range
  • 80 g melted butter
  • 250 ml lukewarm milk
  • 125 g raisins

For the topping

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, to brush on top


  1. Sift the flour in a big bowl. Crumble the yeast in, mix, and open a hole in the center.
  2. In the center, add the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, salt, 1 egg, the lukewarm melted butter. Work with a fork, slowly incorporating some of the flour on the sides.
  3. Slowly start pouring the milk, always working with the fork to incorporate all the flour.
  4. Once a ‘raggedy’ dough starts to form, pour it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  5. Put the dough back in the floured bowl, cover with a wet towel and let rise for 1 hour away from air draughts (I cover it with a towel and put it in the oven, turned off with the light on).
  6. Put the raisins in a small bowl, add water just enough to cover them, let sit for 5-10 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
  7. After the 60 minutes rising time, punch down the dough, add the raisins and work to incorporate.
  8. Form a ball with the dough, then divide into 3 parts, more or less the same size (I used a scale).
  9. With your hands, roll each dough ball into a rope, about 40 cm long. Put the 3 ropes in front of you and starting from the top, start to braid the ropes, sealing the ends together.
  10. Transfer the braid to a rectangular baking pan lined with parchment paper and set back to rise, covered, away from air draughts, for about 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C).
  12. After that time, brush the lightly beaten egg on top of the bread.
  13. Place on the lower rack of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, covering the top of the bread with foil paper if you see it is getting too dark (I covered it at about half the cooking time).


It lasts for 3-4 days but it slowly gets tougher. Toast it, or make French toast. Amazing!

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  • Avatar
    Reply Katherine | Love In My Oven March 28, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    This looks like it came straight from the bakery. Well done!! Very perfect for Easter 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 29, 2019 at 12:57 am

      Thank you! It is traditional for Easter or Christmas in Italy, but appreciated all year round.

  • Avatar
    Reply Linda March 29, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    I love a good homemade bread like this. And how lucky you are to have your mom’s precious handwritten recipe books.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 30, 2019 at 1:38 am

      Thank you! It is a great sweet bread and if you like raisins they give such a nice touch! I still have so many recipes to make from those books 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Gloria | Homemade & Yummy April 1, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    OMG this brings back childhood memories of baba making bread for Easter. We celebrated Ukrainian Easter, and would take a basket of food to church to get “blessed” on Saturday. Then we would eat the food Easter Sunday for breakfast. She ALWAYS had bread made for us.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 1, 2019 at 11:52 pm

      Thank you Gloria! So nice that this bread brought back such a happy memory! It is a great bread, not too sweet, but sweet enough to also call it dessert 😉 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Danielle Wolter April 2, 2019 at 6:19 am

    this sounds just incredible. I’m not much of a baker, but i love bread. you’ve made this sound so easy!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 2, 2019 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks! It’s not the easiest baked good, but it’s totally doable. And it’s so good, that I hope you give it a try!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jessica {Cooking my Dreams} April 2, 2019 at 9:39 am

    I love Pandolce! It was always on our table around Easter time when I was in Italy. I never attempted making it but this recipe looks so gorgeous I might give it a try! 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 2, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      So happy you know this bread and love it! It is very popular and so delicious. Hope you try it! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Kate April 2, 2019 at 10:56 am

    This bread is so beautiful I love the dark golden color. And I bet this would make amazing french toast or bread pudding!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 2, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      Thank you! You need to brush the top with egg and that gives that beautiful color. It is amazing as is, with jam, and as french toast

  • Avatar
    Reply Luxury April 3, 2019 at 3:34 am

    Walking into a kitchen teeming with the yeasty smell of warm bread like this is like receiving a warm hug from a dear friend

  • Avatar
    Reply Tammy April 3, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Ooh your bread is beautiful!! I love homemade bread especially loaves like this one with the dried fruit. Always a delicious treat for the morning!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 3, 2019 at 11:58 am

      Thank you! Nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread :-). In the morning it is delicious!!

  • Avatar
    Reply Dan from Platter Talk April 3, 2019 at 9:56 am

    My biggest criticism of this decadent pandolce is that I am afraid that I could devour the entire loaf, single handly. I love the lemon zest you have added, for the understated bight and flavorful contrast to the other sweet and savory ingredients. Beautifully done and thank you for sharing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 3, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      Thank you! Such a beautiful comment! Yes, the lemon is a nice touch that compliments well the sweet raisins.

  • Avatar
    Reply Gina April 5, 2019 at 2:48 am

    This bread looks AMAZING! I would love to have this for breakfast with some cream cheese!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 7, 2019 at 12:32 am

      Thank you! Never thought of spreading cream cheese on top, but it sounds amazing!

  • Avatar
    Reply Denise@urbnspice April 5, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Many years ago when I was working at a rather frustrating job (before I became a chef), I started to bake bread – I found it to be so therapeutic. Now I bake bread for the people that I love because it is so comforting and so very enjoyable. Your beautiful Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins will be that kind of bread, I am sure. Already, after reading your lovely post and recipe from your Mom’s precious recipe book, this bread is something that I want to bake to evoke the same cozy feelings as you so beautifully wrote about. Many thanks for sharing, Nicoletta. ❤️

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 7, 2019 at 12:33 am

      Well said, Denise! Baking bread is so comforting and brings so much satisfaction when you see people enjoying it. Thank you so much for your lovely comments!

  • Avatar
    Reply Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer April 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    I absolutely love sweet breads like this. It brings back so many childhood memories of baking breads with my Mom. I still make homemade breads like this for the family and extended family. I l9ve your addition of lemon and raisin to this as it’s light and bright while letting the flavors of the bread shine through!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 7, 2019 at 12:34 am

      Thank you! The lemon zest and raisins add such a beautiful fragrance.

  • Avatar
    Reply Analida Braeger April 6, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    These pandolce is beautifully done ! and that crust on top? To die for. This bread brings back so many fond memories of mine, Thank you for sharing ~! 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 7, 2019 at 12:35 am

      Thank you! Love the top too! It is a great bread and makes Easter sweeter 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Sharon April 6, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    There’s nothing better than a great homemade loaf of bread. This looks so unique and delicious, making this soon.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 7, 2019 at 12:36 am

      Thank you! I agree, nothing like making fresh bread 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Daniela April 7, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Yummy! Remind me of challah :). Love a freshly baked bread. And it makes the house smell so delicious! Thanks so much for sharing :).

  • Avatar
    Reply Jo April 8, 2019 at 12:18 am

    This is such a lovely braided bread and raisins are my favorite topping for any braided breads! Beautifully baked and the crust on top is to die for

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