When it comes to Christmas there’s at least two foods that every table must have: Italian panettone and pandoro. Yes, because in Italy no pandoro/panettone, no party. Got the idea?
What are they? What’s the difference, and what’s the best: Italian panettone or pandoro?
Italian pandoro is a traditional Italian Christmas sweet from Verona – yes, the famous city of Romeo and Juliet. It’s shaped like a pyramid with a flat eight-pointed star top.
Where does pandoro come from?
Apparently, pandoro, or something very similar to it, already existed in the Middle Ages and in the 17th century.
Indeed, desserts made with white flour, eggs, butter, sugar or honey were prepared for the nobility and were called royal breads or golden breads – in Italian pan d’oro.
In the 18th century there’s the first citation of a dessert named pandoro. It was served to the aristocracy of Venice. In the same region, Veneto, years later, in 1894, Domenico Melegatti obtained a patent for a procedure to produce Pandoro.
How do you serve Pandoro?
Pandoro is generally served dusted with some vanilla scented icing sugar.
Italian panettone is the second traditional sweet served during Christmas in Italy, together with, or instead of, Italian pandoro.
Panettone is originally from Milan, it has a cylindrical shape which ends with a cupola and it’s made with white flour, eggs, butter, sugar, candied fruits and raisins.
Where does panettone come from?
The origins of panettone are unclear but there are at least three legends that try to explain how panettone was born.
The first one says it was created by change by boy named Ugo, who worked in a bread shop owned by a man called Toni. Ugo added a large quantity of butter to some bread dough and the result became famous in the entire city of Milan. By Christmas Ugo improved the recipe by adding eggs, raisins and candied fruits.
The second legend says that a cook that worked for Ludovico il Moro burned the cake that he should have served to Ludovico and his guests for Christmas.
Luckily for him, a servant named Toni had kept some of the cake dough for himself. He had added some eggs, raisins and candied fruits and he had planned to cook it and eat it later on.
Ludovico’s cook decided to take it, bake it and serve it. It was a huge success and the cook was asked to serve the same dessert every Christmas.
Finally, the third legend says that the cook of a monastery in Milan, Sister Ughetta, decided to make a cake for Christmas using only the ingredients she had at her disposal in the pantry of the monastery. The result was so good that soon the recipe became famous in the entire city of Milan, and then in Italy.
Why do the first and the second legends share a man with the same name, Toni? Probably because another legend says that the name “panettone” comes from “Pan di Toni” – Toni’s bread.
What? You’re tired of legends and want to know how Italians eat panettone? Here you are: Panettone is usually served with some crema di mascarpone – cream made from mascarpone, a soft Italian cheese, or with some zabaione.
What’s the best?
It’s really a personal choice. For example, I don’t like candied fruits but I do prefer panettone nonetheless – I actually like pandoro as well. Moreover, in the last years there are many different versions of Panettone that can meet everyone’s tastes. There is panettone with chocolate, panettone with red berries, panettone with chestnuts, panettone with pistachio cream, panettone with limoncello cream and so on…The only suggestion I feel like giving you is: whatever you choose, order an Italian panettone or an Italian pandoro from a Pasticceria because although you can find many good panettoni and pandori at the supermarket, the ones you buy in a Pasticceria have definitely a little something extra.
What about you? What’s your favourite, Italian panettone or pandoro?
One last thing, Merry Christmas!
Original image by guanabarino