Panettone is synonymous with tradition: Christmas in Italy wouldn’t be the same without it. A star of every meal across the holidays, you can have it toasted at breakfast with coffee, between meals with Marsala wine, and after dinner with spumante or moscato d’asti.
There are essentially two types of panettone – the boxed panettone that you get in the supermarket, and the rich, wholesome panettone that you buy at an Italian pastry shop. The latter is the real deal – real panettone, and is not a dry cake, but a soft, sweet bread of large proportions traditionally made with sultanas and other candied fruit.
Native to Milan, panettone is one of the two Italian sweet yeast breads served mainly on Christmas day. Acidic dough used to make panettone is cured before being shaped into a cupola, which extends from a cylindrical base. Raisins, candied orange, citron, and lemon zest are added to the bread for flavoring. Regional variations for panettone include serving with Crema di Mascarpone, or chocolate.
The original recipe was written about 500 years ago in Milano. It called for a deep base, about 30 cm high for a 1 kg panettone, but it did not specify the diameter. This lack of detail left room for the Piemontesi (inhabitants of Piemonte) to come up with their own interpretation, a panettone of same height but much wider. Efforts are underway to obtain Protected Designation of Origin (Denominazione di Origine Controllata – DOC) status for this product. The Italian Agriculture Ministry is looking at ways to protect the real Italian panettone from growing competition in Latin America.
p.s. Check out our recipe for Pannettone.