Italian Christmas cakes: Panettone & Pandoro
Given that my family have already eaten two Panettone in November! I thought it was time to write about the two main cakes you can expect in Italy at Christmas!
Italian Christmas meals are long and full of many courses but what is less well known is what is eaten for dessert.
Panettone and Pandoro are offered in most houses along with nuts, fruit and Torrone which is a delicious Italian nougat.
Panettone is a sweet bread or cake with a soft bouncy sponge and filled with candied citrus and dried fruit. Now you can also buy plain versions and some with chocolate.
It's usually served with a 'crema di mascarpone' which is whipped mascarpone with sugar, egg whites and if you wish grated chocolate.
You then slather this on to your slice of cake, just in case you haven't eaten enough over the Christmas period!
It wouldn't be complete without something to drink and here we always serve either Prosecco or a sweet wine such as Asti.
Panettone is originally from Milan and as my Husband is from here there is this idea that you're truly Milanese if you love Pannettone! I don't like it!! But I love it's rival Pandoro....
Pandoro or literally 'Golden bread' is my absolute favourite and is just becoming more available in the UK. It's originally from Verona, is star shaped from above (Frustrum) and is covered in icing sugar to resemble the Italian Alps.
It was called Golden bread, as this type of white bread/cake was reserved for nobility as it contained expensive ingredients such as sugar and honey.
Now you can buy decent versions in the UK. This is also served with the 'crema di mascarpone' mentioned above and some bubbly.
The sponge inside is incredibly light and fluffy, not as firm as a Panettone. It's normally plain inside but you can find versions now with lemon, chocolate and pistachio.
There are many ways of serving/cutting it. Some people just cut a point from the star from top to bottom for each person. If you want a lovely doorstep slice this method is for you! I have only been served it in this traditional way in Italy.
However! There are ways to cut and arrange the Pandoro for real showstopping party effects. (You can also add cream and fruit between each star layer! Swoon!).
See my video below of how to do this!
Where to buy
Various types of Panettone and Pandoro can be found on Amazon or at your local Italian deli.
If there's something you want to try and can't find it, do ask me!
You can also often buy these now in all the major supermarkets. Be careful that later in December these often are less fresh and that you may have to buy your own icing sugar for the Pandoro as for some reason English Pandoro don't come with a sachet inside the box!
I hope you get to try some Italian Christmas cake this year! I always find it's a useful option for those who don't like the heavy texture of English Christmas pudding.
Buon Natale! Happy Christmas!
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