No Italian Christmas is complete without panettone!
In fact, the average Italian family eats 2.5 panettoni (it becomes panettoni when plural) every Christmas, which is saying something as they're typically 1kg each. Albeit, this doesn't surprise me as not only are panettone mouth wateringly good, but they're only available at Christmas - so if you don't indulge now, it's long 12 months to your next opporunity.
The great news is, panettone is starting to pop up around the world, and we're making it available to you this Christmas is Australia.
But what is this deliciousness?
It's kind of like a cake, but not. And sort of like a sweet bread, but not.
It's tall, fluffy and delicately moist (dry is not good). It's a little sweet - but not cake like sweet. The traidtional (or classico) version comes rich in dried fruits and spices and an indulgently high butter content. However, these days you can find all sorts of flavours - coffee, chocolate chip, limencello. But for us, when you're on to a good thing - the traditional - stick to it.
Interestingly, the raisins/sultanas in tradtiional panettone are said to be intended for good wishes, and to bring fortune and wealth - because their shape is reminiscent of golden coins.
The word panettone comes from panetto, or small loaf cake. By adding -one to the end, we change the meaning to large cake. It dates back to the ancient Romans who sweetened leavened cake with honey.
However panettone as we know it, is said to have been invented in Milan in the 1400's when a Milanese nobleman, Ughetto degli Atellani, fell in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. To win her over, the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich bread in which he added to the flour and yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins, and candied peel.The duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro Sforza, discovered this new and delicious treat and sponsored the launch of the new cake-like bread so that it became all the fashion in Milan, and continues to be today.
Pairs Well With...
Coffee. Of course, panettone is wonderful to eat whilst enjoying a morning espresso, and if you go to one of our favourite Melbourne Italian haunts, DOC Espresso in Carlton, you'll reeceive a piece of panettone with your coffee in the lead up to Christmas. If a piece isn't enough, can buy a slice at DOC, or other authentic Italian coffee shops.
Breakfast. Italians happily eat panettone for breakfast, so don't be shy to break it out in the morning.
Prosecco. If you want to up your panettone eating game, it pairs perfectly wtih a glass (or two) of prosecco. Which you're also welcome to break out in the morning - no judgement!
Moscato. This sweet Italian wine known for it's fruity notes, is another great pairing partner for your panettone, or pandora.
Not all Panettone is Created Equal
When purchasing panettone, be sure to check the ingredients. With almost 80 million pounds produced annually in Italy (as well as domestic versions), not all are of excellent merit. Read the labels and watch for lower-quality ingredients such as margarine rather than butter or powdered eggs instead of fresh. Be warned, good panettone should be moist - but many cheap versions are dry and not the 'real deal'.
And as always, the chances of finding something of good quality in the supermarket is low, unless you fancy a trip to Italy to stock up.
Buy for Christmas 2019 here: https://www.fiamma.life/shop.