Panettone or “big bread” is the ultimate Italian Christmas pastries. During the Christmas season, hundreds of millions of panettoni (plural) are sold all over Italy and abroad. In fact, panettone is well appreciated also in all EU countries and North America.
Before the industrialization, panettone was made in local bakeries or at home and traditionally the father would mark a cross at the top of the tall loaf, before it was placed in the oven. Today, panettone still has a special aura, it is the symbol of love and joy to share with family and friends.
Christmas without Panettone is a sad Christmas day
The classic panettone weighs about a kilo and is about 8 inches high. It’s special dough ferments and rises for at least 12 hours, but the leaving process can last much longer. The main ingredients of original recipes include flour, eggs, butter, yeast, candied oranges, citron, dried raisin and lemon zest.
The quality of panettone usually depends on where you buy it: bakeries generally offer high- quality products which reflect the price. But also industrial panettone sold in the supermarket are delicious as well.
How to taste the special sweetness of Italian panettone
Panettone is eaten as a dessert or a snack, because it’s not overly sweet, cut in slices from top to bottom. Often, it is a present for neighbors and friends: it is common for an Italian family to receive as many as 10 or more panettoni during holidays! Then, many of these passed on other neighbors or are donated to charities. Traditionally, it is served after the Christmas lunch or dinner but also on New Year’s Eve, and presented with a good bottle of spumante or sparkling wine.
Therefore, panettone is also eaten in the morning with coffee or a classic cappuccino, or during the afternoon break as a snack with an espresso. In the US, Italian panettone is consumed as “french toast panettone” for breakfast during Christmas season.