Want to impress friends and family, bake a fluffy Italian Panettone!
It requires patience to bake this Medieval leavened fruitcake, but you can really call yourself a Tuscan chef when it works out!
Have you ever been given a Panettone for Christmas? If you have, you obviously you have friends or family with good taste. This dome-shaped sweet bread loaf originated from Milan in Italy. It is usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year. It takes three days to bake this medieval cake, also known as the “tall, leavened fruitcake”. It is mostly large enough to share, but will be gone in no time because the Panettone melts in your mouth and then all of a sudden it's gone, leaving you longing for more! Its fluffiness and hints of sultanas have been around for decades and are mostly baked for Christmas and New Years dinner parties.
The history of this Christmas cake lies in a Medieval City in Northern Italy. The name “Panettone” is short for pane di Tonio, which can be translated into Tonio’s bread. Tonio was a poor Milanese baker and invented the loaf for his daughter after she fell in love with a nobleman. He needed to bake a cake to show his love, but he didn’t have enough money to bake one of the well-known desserts. Everybody loved the cake and they enjoyed it so much that the family asked for its name, this is when Tonio came up with his own bread and the name has not changed since. Due to World War II people got to know this Christmas sweet. It was cheap to produce and gave people hope during the Christmas period. The loaf was often combined with hot cocoa or liquor and its popularity brought the Panettone to the rest of Europe and even South America and Australia. Nowadays Italian food manufacturing companies and bakeries produce over 117 million Panettones and their sister Pandoro cakes every Christmas. Not only Italians, but also Americans ,have discovered this luxury Panetonne is something you want to serve at Christmas.
Variations of Panettones
There are over a hundred types of Panettones you can bake for the Christmas table. Basic ingredients added to the bread dough are sugar, butter, raisins and tender citrus peel. These are added over a couple of days, resulting in a light-as-air texture. After this the dough is left to prove for 10 hours; upside down! This is the basic mixture, but other famous flavours include; Prosecco, double chocolate, Tuscan honey, cherries and Tiramisu. We recommend you try the Finettone once; it is made with juniper, rosemary and gin-soaked olives. The saltiness from the olives is combined with an orange infused Gin & Tonic. But most of all Panettone is known from its delicious festive flavours of light and sweet dough filled with fruits and its amazing tastes. Served with a large dollop of creamy mascarpone and a splash of amaretto it is absolutely divine. During the Christmas season you can find Panettones in every grocery store or bakery, but have you ever tried to make one yourself? Note: you need some patience and baking skills to get the desired taste, shape and feeling.
We, at Tuscookany, know the smell of a great bake and all the scents that come free in the kitchen. It reminds one of a mother baking and having to be patient to unwrap Christmas presents (read: tear open!). The perfumed smell of candied citrus peel, dried fruit, butter and sugar are about to indulge in your home for three days when baking the Panettone. This fluffy and versatile Panettone is delicious enjoyed for breakfast or dessert or a mid-afternoon snack to get you through the 4pm slump. In our opinion we cannot think of a time that a slice wouldn’t be appropriate for a slice. A hint from one of our chefs of the Italian cooking classes in Tuscany is to serve this sweet bake with either a hot beverage or a sweet wine like Moscato. Serving this combination not only looks good but will also open up the playing field for some charades during the Holiday season festivities.
Now it is your turn to decide; are you going to bake it yourself or buy it in a store? One thing you should never forget is that a party without a cake is just a meeting, so get the most of the Holidays this year. We from the Tuscookany team and everyone from the cooking classes in Italy, wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and hope all your cooking wishes will come true next year. If you really want to know how to bake this Panettone do not hesitate to ask our chefs during one of the Italian cooking courses, they would be happy to help! We hope to see you next season!
Have fun cooking!
The Tuscookany Team
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