Sunday, December 5

Panettone Pandemonium!


Every year around this time, strange large octagonal boxes appear filling the isles of every market, alimentare & grocery store across Italy. They stack enormous pyramids to the ceiling of this classic Italian Christmas bread. It's panettone (large bread) and it is the indication that Christmas season is here! Even before the huge snowflake lights are hung above the city streets or the first tree is lit - panettone is stocked in every shop! Seriously, this is no exaggeration - Italian bakers produce 117 million loafs of panettone every Christmas - that is more than one loaf a person! (We're up to 4 already & gathering steam!!)
So what is panettone?! I remember seeing these boxes in random shops in the States...what's in the box..why is it shaped like that..the picture looks like a poofy dome cake-thing with weird dried fruit...why did they seem to last so long...these were questions I wasn't ready to answer.



But I am now! After being offered thick fluffy slices at every house you enter (& you can't say no!) I have come to actually enjoy the candied fruit (which normally I don't dig at all) and the warm soft bread. melts in your mouth. It's bread - not a cake. And if you place it by the fire during dinner (or on the radiator or any heat source - keeping it in the plastic bag) it starts to get warm & soft - it's perfect!
Panettone - the original flavor if you will- contains candied orange, citron & lemon zest as well as raisins, which are added dry & not soaked. Many other variations are available such as plain, only raisins or with chocolate & almonds. Panettone goes great with vin santo, moscato or any other sweet wine or liquor you like!

Panettone was unarguably born in Milan, but it's origin dates back to the Roman Empire - when ancient Romans sweetened a type of leavened bread with honey.

Most Italians prefer store bought panettone than making their own - it's a difficult, time consuming process with several days of proofing (this coming from the same people who roll pasta paper thin by hand!) Here are a few top choices:


** Bonfanti
*** Artisan made (in our area Cafe del Teatro in Urbania)

If you still aren't ready to make the plunge - try this - buy a box & make french toast!


Happy Holidays & Here's to Panettone Pandemonium!

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