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Yeast Starter

Use this yeast starter when making Gabriele Riva's panettone recipe.

  • Yield: Makes enough for at least 4 panettone
Yeast Starter

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, December Fall 2008


  • 2 cups peeled, cored, pureed, and drained Granny Smith apple
  • 4 cups high-gluten flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • Flat water, as needed


  1. In a large bowl, mix together apple, flour, and sparkling water until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 48 hours.

  2. Weigh dough and discard 2/3 of the dough. Return remaining 1/3 of dough to large bowl; add an equal amount of flour and half of the dough's weight in flat water. Mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 4 hours.

  3. Weigh dough again and return to bowl. Add an equal amount of flour and half of the dough's weight in flat water; mix to combine. Repeat process every four hours until the mixture is able to triple in volume in only 4 hours. This will take at least one month.

Reviews (15)

  • Lucia Klarmann 21 Dec, 2014

    Hi!, what you do with the discarded dough? Thanks

  • lmarchet 27 Oct, 2010

    I would like to try this recipe but I could only feed it every 8 hours or so. Has anyone tried this by modifying the feeding time?

  • lmarchet 27 Oct, 2010

    I would like to try this recipe but I could only feed it every 8 hours or so. Has anyone tried this by modifying the feeding time?

  • nicolerusk 23 Dec, 2008

    Just to mention that every time you have a starter, the rule of thumb is to remove the same amount you put into it. So if you put in 2 cups of water and flour for instance, then you must remove 2 cups of the started beforehand. And you are right the recipe doesn't address this point.

  • cbtj 20 Dec, 2008

    TexasBnB, I think you have a point. The directions are not very clear. I think some of the starter is supposed to be 'discarded' before each feeding, but the writer must have forgotten to include that.

  • TexasBnB 19 Dec, 2008

    I figure at the end of a month you're going to end up with somewhere around 180 cups of starter. Hmmmm, I guess I'd better see how many cups my bathtub holds, because my biggest mixing bowl will be outgrown in a day! Good thing I have a few bathtubs! But, if you are weighing the dough every time, and adding equal that weight in water and half that amount of water, then the amounts grow exponentially, and I just don't have that many bathtubs.

  • cbtj 19 Dec, 2008

    haha...ViciousPalate, you are hilarious! This is good trainining for parents-to-be.

  • poppymay 18 Dec, 2008

    I made the starter 16 hours ago. I used tap water instead of sparkling and still. I also added about 1/2 tsp of instant yeast. I just did the first feed and it was certainly bubbly and active. I also added a teensy-weensy bit of sourdough dough (I work in a commercial bakery) to the starter today just to try and rush the starter-type flavor along. I am going to keep feeding it for a couple days more and then make the pannetone, but I am going to add additional yeast.

  • Rocketsciencechef 18 Dec, 2008

    I am a Rocket Scientist by trade, and this seems WAY more complex! In any case, what I know about yeast cultures is that you can speed up the process by keeping the starter warm, and slow down the process by keeping it cool... If you want to adjust your schedule so that it is done every 8 hours, you can, but the whole process will take at least twice as long, maybe longer. If you leave town, I am sure it will keep just fine in the refrigerator in "suspended animation" until your return.

  • ViciousPalate 17 Dec, 2008

    I am going to train my dog to feed the starter while I am at work. At night, I will sleep with the starter and it will soon become second nature to wake up and feed it. I think I will only need to set my alarm for the first three and a half weeks - after that, I will wake up quite easily and naturally.

  • Paulguynj 17 Dec, 2008

    Repeat process every 4 hours for 1 month? You got to be kidding? Is this an error? I guess no sleep for 1 month. HAHA Where do you purchase yeast starter? This process is way to complicated.

  • chefette86 17 Dec, 2008

    I would still like to try this for some other occasion, but the time it takes to make the starter isn't very appealing

  • chefette86 17 Dec, 2008

    I was excited to try this recipe for Christmas, until I realized how long this process really is. Martha mentioned that if you start now, you can have it by Christmas, however, that is impossible because you need to babysit the starter for one month. And how do you feed the mixture every four hours for an entire month? (Unless you are the mother of a baby, and are probably taking care of your baby anyway every four hours)

  • InkCraft 17 Dec, 2008

    Did Mr. Riva say his starter was 42 years old? How is a starter kept properly?

  • BJCarey 17 Dec, 2008

    My grandmother use to make panettone every year. I use to watch her, but I was only 8 and didn't understand the proccess. I always wanted to know how she did it. Thanks to you and your guest (Gabriele Riva) on the show, now I can start to make my own for my family and friends.
    Thank you,
    Barbara Lomonaco-Carey
    Colonie, N.Y.

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