From Italy (and America) with love: Panettone Muffins

Golden muffins with a crunchy sugar cap…

…reveal a secret inside: delicious (and colorful) apricots, cranberries, pineapple, golden raisins, and dates.

These tiny little panettone lookalikes mimic that Italian Christmas cake’s flavor, too: a touch of citrus, a hint of vanilla, and the nuanced sweetness of dried fruits.

Looking for a change from your usual blueberry, corn, or bran muffins? Panettone Muffins are perfect for the holidays.

Let’s start with a couple of unusual ingredients. While you might not have them on hand right now, they’re worth adding to your pantry stock .

King Arthur Cake Enhancer is an emulsifier, stabilizer, and texture-enhancer that’ll keep cakes, muffins, breads, and buns moist and soft longer.

Can you make this recipe without it? Sure. It’s an optional ingredient, though a helpful one.

Fiori di Sicilia (“flowers of Sicily”) lends panettone its distinctive citrus/vanilla flavor – and does the same for these muffins.

OK, let’s get down to business and bake some muffins.

Put 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) chopped dried fruit in a microwave-safe bowl. I’m using our Favorite Fruitcake Blend here, a combination of diced apricots, golden raisins, pineapple cubes, chopped dates, and sweetened cranberries.

Add 1/4 cup apple juice, orange juice, rum, or a mixture. I’m using straight rum here – ’tis the season!

Cover the bowl, and microwave for 60 to 90 seconds, until the mixture is very hot.

Uncover the fruit, stir to combine, and let it cool to room temperature, which will take about 1 hour.

Don’t want to microwave the dried fruit? Simply mix it with the liquid, cover, and let it rest at room temperature overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely. Paper cups will also ensure a more even rise – as we’ll see later.

Put the following in a mixing bowl:

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar

Beat until well blended.

Add 2 large eggs, beating to combine.

Stir in 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Using 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia will give you a mild hint of flavor; 1/4 teaspoon will be much more assertive.

Whisk together the following:

2 tablespoons King Arthur Cake Enhancer, optional, for enhanced freshness
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with 2/3 cup milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. First flour…

…then milk, then flour again, until you’ve added all of both.

You should have a nice, thick batter.

Add the fruit and any remaining liquid.

Stir to combine.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

A slightly heaped muffin scoop works well here.

The cups will be quite full.

Sprinkle each muffin with sparkling white sugar, if desired.

Don’t skimp!

Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes.

When done (these are nicely risen, though not quite done), they’ll be a sunny gold color on top, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins will come out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven, and tilt them in the pan to let them cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them.

These muffins are best enjoyed warm. if you’ve made them ahead, try reheating individual muffins very briefly in the microwave.

Here’s something interesting that happened when I tried baking some with papers, some without. I was wondering if the muffins without papers would release nicely from the pan.

Take a look at the paperless muffins on the left. See how they’re peaking?

Looks like not only do papers look pretty and provide easy release; they insulate the muffin batter just enough that the sides don’t set before the center is fully risen, making for a more evenly risen muffin.

Here’s one last look – tempting, eh?

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Panettone Muffins.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. erie

    Do you know what the difference in the rising would be if you use silicone muffin cups. I don’t always have paper ones in stock but do have enough silicone cups.

    Since silicone insulates more than paper, I’d imagine the muffins would rise very evenly in silicone… PJH

  2. bhnyc

    I just printed the KAF Overnight Panettone recipe and plan on making it once my order arrives. I have a question about it though- does the biga rest overnight on the counter or in the refrigerator?

    On the counter – the tiny amount of yeast, working at room temperature, will get things going nicely overnight. PJH

  3. Rockycat

    I just made a batch of “Panettone” biscotti, not too dissimilar from these muffins. I didn’t macerate my fruit, though. I think I’ll have to try that next time. Anything to get more rum into my baking. I also used some candied citron as I may be the only person in the world who actually *likes* that stuff.
    I used the Fiori di Sicilia, a recent purchase, and got raves from The Spouse. He thought it absolutely made a big, positive difference. He’s right, as usual.

  4. mdlrvrmuncher

    Since potato flour is added to the panettone to keep the texture moist, what would the benefit to the muffins be instead of the cake enhancer?
    Potato flour, in addition to bringing moisture, can also enhance freshness in a product. However, the flour can only hold moisture, while the enhancer is an emulsifier which means it will homogenize the fats and hold them for a longer shelf life. The potato flour will also add density to a product, so I don’t recommend use of it in the panetoone muffins. Best wishes! ~Amy@KAF

  5. fabbecky

    I have KAF cake flour, but not enhancer. Could I add some of the cake flour to the AP?

    No, just leave out the enhancer. Although you could also use cake flour in place of the all-purpose – that should work just fine. PJH

  6. Angela

    Made these last week when the recipe appeared in the catalog. My five year old is quite the muffin expert, taking one to school in her lunch nearly every day. She ate three of these right away and declared them “the best” and requested I make them again soon. That means they beat pumpkin with chocolate chips, which was no easy feat! (A tip to busy parents, with child number three now in kindergarten I have finally gotten the lunch packing thing down, thanks to KA recipes! Every few weeks I’ll bake a few batches of maple oatmeal bread, make it all into PB&J sandwiches, cut with nifty dino sandwich cutter, wrap in plastic wrap then stick them all into a big ziploc bag. I also make a reduced sugar version of the chewy granola bars and muffins, usually the banana ones with yogurt and oat bran and white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, or whatever new recipe I want to try. They all get individually wrapped and stored in the freezer. In the morning I pull an item from each bag, add some fruit and nuts and lunch is packed in 30 seconds! I feel good knowing she isn’t eating mass produced versions of these foods AND I save money.) Yeah, King Arthur! Your recipes and people really are the best 🙂 I called in last week with my first baking question (usually my friends and family call me), and wanted to share that the three layer mousse cake from the cookbook comes out just fine without using gelatin (the friend I was making it for is vegetarian), opted not to use agar agar for fear of graininess. The mousse was slightly less firm than the original, but just as tasty and very appreciated.

    You have definitely got the lunch thing down pat, Angela – glad we could be of some small assistance. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here… PJH

  7. jim

    What do PJ et. al. think of these for a dessert?

    Jim, they’re not really rich enough for dessert, in my opinion. Unless you cut in half, spread with butter, grille, and add a touch of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, and a dollop of really good apricot preserves… 🙂 PJH

  8. jim

    Thanks PJ, we’ll go another direction!

    p.s. we are making a tourtiere right now, KAF recipes naturally. 🙂

    What to follow for a dessert?

    My favorite easy/fast/delicious dessert, Jim – Berry Torte. Use ANY fruit, doesn’t have to be berries. Dried apricots, frozen peaches (thawed), apples, Italian prune plums (or prunes!) – YUM. PJH

  9. cathancelakeme

    My husband just loves these muffins.. in our home we use it as our dessert they are that yummy.. I don’t have the fruit cake blend but I do have an assortment of dried fruit so I just mix a bunch together and it works great. I also don’t have the enhancer but I do put in a couple tablespoons of mayo and they stay very moist and lovely…

    Mayo – what a great idea, for added moistness! Thanks, I’m trying this sometime… PJH

  10. Tashi

    Absolutely delicious! Had some dried fruit from the supermarket; still waiting for the big bottle of Fiore de Sicilia, so….I just soaked the fruit in apple cider, used vanilla extract as well as 1/4 tsp. of rum extract. Also added some chopped walnuts. Great little recipe and muffin…not too sweet (which we like) and easy! The muffins rose beautifully, but sometimes my muffins have “tunnels.” Is it because I am beating the batter too much? If so, at what point am I beating the batter too much? Thanks so much!

    In general, Tashi, with muffins (or cake), if the muffins is based on a “beat the butter and sugar and eggs together until fluffy” type of technique, then beat those suckers all you want. BUT once you add liquid and flour, beat gently (or fold, or stir) JUST enough to combine. Heating flour with liquid toughens gluten, which can cause tunneled muffins. Glad they were tasty, anyway! PJH

  11. Kate

    How long do you think these stay good? I’m thinking of making them for Christmas morning and would like to make them ahead of time. I know panettone bread you buy in stores stays good for quite a while. Do these have the same staying power?

    No, Kate, these don’t have nearly the staying power of store-bough panettone, which can stay fresh for (amazingly) months. These are like any muffin – I wouldn’t make them more than maybe 3 days ahead, unless you plan to freeze, in which case you can bake and freeze now, thaw on the counter overnight Christmas Eve, and reheat until warm Christmas morning. Enjoy – PJH

  12. Fara

    Hi, how should I store this muffin or any other muffins to make sure they stay really fresh? Should I store them in a refrigerator or in room temperature if I would need them for the day after? I have the same question for any non cream cake ( Apple cake, …) and yeast breads! Thanks for your advise

    1. Amy Trage

      Definitely store them at room temperature for the next day as refrigerating them would dry them out and compromise their freshness. ~Amy

    2. Fara

      Thanks! I forgot to tell you that I live in Florida, having a humid and warm whether. Considering this, can I still leave my baked goods in room temperature?

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