Will You Be Serving Panettone Or Pandoro?

By Patrizia Cucca

I know that there won’t be one Sunday that goes by, leading up to Christmas that we don’t put out some of these after dinner. Roasted hazelnuts, roasted chestnuts, torrone – nougat, il panettone – the Milanese fruitcake filled with candied fruit or my favorite, il pandoro – similar to the panettone and true to its name (pan d’oro means ‘golden bread’), the cake has a bright yellow color. Pandoro is traditionally a star-shaped cake that is dusted with powdered sugar.

No meal is complete without dessert but when it comes to these traditional Christmas cakes, will you be serving panettone or pandoro? This is a real dilemma in my family; we are split between panettone lovers and pandoro lovers. The panettone lovers find pandoro to be too simple and buttery; the pandoro lovers hate raisins and candied fruits which are in every bite you take of a panettone. There is only one peaceful solution; buy and serve both!

Do you know the romantic lore of how Panettone, the bejeweled bread came to be? Well just in case, it goes something like this… A young man by the name of Ughetto Atellani fell in love with the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. In order to impress her, Ughetto disguised himself as a pastry chef’s apprentice in her father’s bakery. He created a tall fruit studded bread to present to her father, calling it “Pan de Toni.” The bread, rich with eggs and butter, sweet with honey, scented with vanilla and lemon zest, with the finishing touch of dried and candied fruits was a success in the bakery and won the admiration of the lady and the father’s respect. The baker blessed the marriage and Ughetto married the daughter.

Truth be told, up until a few years ago I never really liked panettone. I thought they were dry and most times tasted stale, after all they were usually from the supermarket, sold in boxes and seem to be available for months after the holidays. I know that sounds terribly snobbish but please hear me out. One day I tried a traditionally made panettone and it completely changed the way I thought of this Christmas time treat. What I had as a stale bread was rich perfumed with spice and fruit with a golden yellow colour from butter and eggs. There is one problem, making panettone takes hours, and the dough must rise and fall three times before baking and are simply lots of work. Store bought is just fine with me; however you have got to try these four delicious panettone recipes and bring some Christmas joy to your tables.

Toasted Panettone & Nutella

2-3 tablespoons soft butter, 2 slices Panettone, 2 tablespoons Nutella

Step 1 – Butter the panettone and place the first slice of the sandwich butter side down. Spread the Nutella on the bread. Place the other piece on top butter side up and then press down and cook until golden.

Panettone & Marmalade Ice Cream

100g panettone, roughly torn, 1/3 cup caster or superfine sugar, 400ml Cream, 1/4 cup icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, 4 tablespoons orange marmalade

Step 1 – Toss the panettone in the caster sugar well and then toast under a grill for 2 minutes or until the sugar caramelizes. Allow to cool.

Step 2 – Whip the cream and icing sugar together until you get soft peaks and add in the vanilla. Mix with the cooled panettone crumbs and place a couple of heaped tablespoons in a freezer proof container. Layer with a tablespoon of marmalade and repeat until you’ve used all of the ice cream mix and marmalade. Freeze. Allow to ripen at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before eating.

Panettone Rum Baba

4 slices panettone, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup rum, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, 150ml cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Step 1 – Place the panettone on serving plates. Heat the water and sugar on medium high heat and allow simmering and becoming thicker. Add in the rum and vanilla bean paste. Allow to cool completely.

Step 2 – Whip the cream and vanilla together until you get soft peaks. Pour the syrup over the panettones and top with whipped cream.

Panettone Tiramisu

500g mascarpone, 5 eggs, yolks and whites separated (make sure these are fresh as they will not be cooked), 100g sugar, 1 cup espresso, 300g panettone, sliced, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.

Step 1 – Whisk yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Whip 3 of the egg whites until stiff with a pinch of salt. Soften the mascarpone with a whisk or a spatula and then mix the whites and mascarpone together. Mix this with the yolk cream to make a thick, dollopy cream.

Step 2 – Layer some mascarpone mixture. Then briefly dip the panettone in the coffee and squeeze out excess coffee. Place on top of the mascarpone and layer with more mascarpone until done. Sprinkle with chocolate.

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