Panina di Subbiano: Saffron and sultana bread

Panina di Subbiano

Italians like their recipes and ingredients to have an origin. Knowing where something comes from give a sense of tradition and authority very important in Italian cuisine. Thus salsa amatriciana  comes from the town of Amatrice, parmigiano-reggiano, is named for the twin provinces of Parma and Reggio d’Emilia, and risotto alla Milanese, comes from the city of Venice. OK, I’m joking there since it obviously comes from Milan but you get the point.

Panina di Subbiano

Panina di Subbiano

This recipe originates in the town of Subbiano, which touches the northern borders of the commune of Caprese Michelangelo and so is a very local dish. In fact, as with most recipes, there are local versions found in many different parts of the area, where it’s sometimes referred to as panina gialla, or yellow bread. In Subbiano itself, it’s also called panina di Pasqua, or Easter bread since it’s traditional to eat it for that festival. However, I find it makes a comforting winter tea-time treat or hearty breakfast, either on its own, or slathered with butter and one of the jams you’ve been dying to open since you made them in the summer. You can even toast it which has the effect of caramelizing some of the sugar.

Panina di Subbiano

Panina is a bit like a denser panettone but without the candied peel and a little less sweet. However, you could add candied peel, cherries, and even nuts to the mixture, but if you do, reduce the amount of sultanas, or it won’t rise. The traditional version of this bread is made with lard. However, if you prefer a lighter, or a vegetarian / vegan option, you can replace the lard with olive oil. Finally, in Italy saffron powder is widely used but saffron strands will obviously do: and if you like the taste of saffron, doubling the amount give the bread a delicious edge.

Panina di Subbiano

Panina di Subbiano

Serves 6-8
250g (2 cups) flour
10g (1/3 ounce) fresh yeast
35g (1 ounce) lard or olive oil
4g ( a pinch) salt
40g (1 1/2 ounces) sugar
250g (1 1/2 cups) sultanas
1g saffron powder
150g (2/3 cup) water


  1. In a stand mixer, mix together the flour, yeast, lard, salt, and sugar until combined.
  2. Then add the sultanas, and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout.
  3. Dissolve the saffron powder in the water. Then add to the other ingredients and mix until it comes together to form a sticky dough.
  4. Cover with a damp cloth, and leave in a warm place for two hours. During this time, the mixture should double in size.
  5. Butter a cake tin and then put the mixture in the bottom. Press it into the sides of the tin and make sure the top is flat and level.
  6. Cover the tin with a damp cloth and then leave in a warm place for another two hours. During this time, the mixture should once again double in size.
  7. While you are waiting, heat the oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
  8. Bake the bread for 30 minutes or until brown on top. Remove from the tin and leave to cool before serving.

I had this for breakfast this morning with creamy butter and home-made fig and ginger jam. What’s your favourite jam or preserve? Tell me in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “Panina di Subbiano: Saffron and sultana bread”

  1. I love Saffron (although never seen powder!) and this looks gorgeous. I’ve just made some Rosehip Jelly and also some Crab Apple Jelly from foraged fruits which I think would go well with this! I’m always interested where recipes come from too! Thanks…

    1. It’s funny, I’ve only seen it here and in France. They use it here for risotto alla milanese. It seems to be the same quality and grade as the strands, just dried and pulverized for convenience. I would LOVE to get your recipe for Rosehip Jelly (which I notice is not on your blog). I have a batch of them waiting to be picked outside …

  2. We have beautiful saffron here in Tasmania, and although it’s spring here, I think I’ll give this a try. I’m not supposed to have jam because of the sugar content so I usually puree plums and use that as a spread.

    1. Hmm. I can imagine what it must be like: so fragrant, I love saffron. The bread is really for Easter so the weather down there at the moment would be perfect I am sure. Would love to hear how it goes. Pureed fruit sounds like an excellent accompaniment too. I have some jars of apples a friend gave me. Now there’s an idea …

  3. Pingback: Easter in the Valtiberina « Chestnuts and Truffles

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