Traditionally made for Christmas, the sweet, light bread with raisins and candied citrus peel is also enjoyed year round!
In Milan, there is a story about a young kitchen assistant called Toni, in the court of Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milan at the end of the 15th Century. The dessert for the evening’s meal had been burned and the cook hastily created a sweet bread from what was at hand, including flour, eggs, sugar, raisins and candied citrus peel. The creation was known as Pan de Toni. Today, this sweet bread is now called Panettone and is one of Italy’s most recognisable products.
Even though this story could be fact or fiction, it’s more likely that the name Panettone is a form of panètte, a regional word for bread. The recipe originated in the kitchens of the rural communities around 13th century Milan, where it was customary to eat a piece of pandolce, which is a form of sponge cake with raisins, and to drink a glass of wine to celebrate Saint Biagio Day.
The sweet golden and intoxicatingly light bread studded with raisins and candied citrus peel is an Italian delicacy! When the winter holidays approach, it’s tradition in Milan to put loaves of Panettone on radiators to keep them warm and infuse the home with the smell of sweet bread and raisins.
Panettone is made from a rich mixture of egg yolks, butter and sugar that go into the dough. The lengthy leavening process, which requires three or four stages of rising that can take more than a day, gives the dough its unique quality and guarantees that the bread will stay fresh through the Christmas period and beyond. Some families keep their loaves out, simply tearing off pieces as they fancy. Others slice it and toast it, covering the slices with additional butter. Panettone is traditionally eaten for Christmas breakfast, but it is also enjoyed throughout the year. It makes a fine dessert, and is often paired with Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti, Brachetto d’Acqui and other dessert wines.
Check out our all time favourite – Panettone Zabaglione! Delicious…