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What is Panettone and How it Makes the Best Christmas Gift

Updated on November 11, 2015

History of Panettone

Panettone is a traditional Italian fruit cake or sweet bread which became an important part of the Christmas and New Year feast in Italy. In fact, most Italians think that Christmas celebrations can't go on without Panettone.

There are few legends surrounding the origin of this delicious sensation but we don't know for sure which one to believe. One of the legends speaks of a poor Italian baker named Tonio who had a beautiful daughter. A very wealthy nobleman offered her his hand in marriage. To avoid the embarrassment from his total lack of money, Tonio created a special sweet bread and named it "Pan de Tonio". This may have given Panettone its name. The new invention has brought Tonio great fortune and was also a hit at his daughter's wedding. Another legend says that it was the other way around - the nobleman invented an unusual bread to impress Tonio and his gorgeous daughter and named it after Tonio - "Panettone".

Other legends trace Panettone back to ancient Roman Empire. Historical records show that Romans used to sweeten their bread with honey and add some fruit during baking. The earliest written reference to Panettone is found in the works of the 18th century writer Pietro Verri who mentioned "Pane di Tono" which stands for "Luxury Cake".

Lots of other stories have been told since the invention of Panettone and new ones keep emerging from time to time. The credit has been given to noblemen, poor people and some even claimed that the shape of Panettone is of the celestial origin. Most people agree, however, that Panettone has originated in Milan, Italy.

Mass production of Panettone took off around 1940s which made it quite affordable for all people around the world to enjoy.

Who Likes Panettone

By now, pretty much everyone loves this wonderful Holiday treat. Countries such as Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Spain, Columbia, Venezuela, UK, Germany, France and many others have made it a popular addition to their Christmas celebrations. It is served in restaurants, coffee shops and even bars. Italian bakers alone produce over 100 million Panettones every year around the holiday season. Many countries such as Peru, have licensed their own brands of Panettone and even export it to the other countries. Bakers all over the world are developing their own recipes and experiment adding new and extraordinary ingredients to Panettone. You may find the unusual and totally untraditional flavors such as Chocolate, Cranberry, Apple and many others.

What is Panettone

Let's talk more in detail about what Panetonne is made from. Panettone is a type of sweet yeast bread or cake that is fluffy in texture and has lots of raisins, candied orange and lemon or lime zest. Raisins can be soaked in liquor or just added as is to the dough. Panettone is made using eggs and it has buttery texture. The traditional way of making Panettone is quite time consuming since it involves few days of preparation to cure the dough from acidity. This also helps to make the cake so airy and light.

Panettone can have a different shape but mostly it is tall and round. You may see some Panettones on the market that are just wide and round. Panettone is sold in the packages of about 2 lb. but, again, different sizes are available and can range from the smallest to the biggest you can imagine.

Perfect Christmas Gift

Panettone is not only an exclusive delicious treat. It is also a very attractive gift because it always comes packaged in a variety of beautifully decorated boxes. Majority of boxes have a picture of the slice of the Panettone and that is so eye-catching! Some boxes are decorated with red or burgundy color ribbons and have very fancy wrapping making them perfect as a Christmas gift.

Giving Panettone as a Christmas gift to your loved ones, friends or co-workers will greatly surprise them because it will be something new, extraordinary and exiting for them to try. And, believe me, when we are talking about exiting gift, Panettone is not same old red-colored sweater that someone picked up on sale and which will be returned back to the store right after Christmas. Panettone is a delicious way of expressing your love for Christmas and you can never go wrong with this one.

There are very many recipes of Panettone available for those who want to try making their own. When you make your own Panettone, you will be putting your baking skills to the test and showing your creativity. One thing for sure, your efforts and hard work will be fully rewarded.

Panettone Serving Suggestions

There is a true variety of different ways you can serve Panettone. My favorite one is a warm slice of Panettone (heat in the microwave for about 12 seconds) with a cup of tea of milk. Other ways of serving Panettone include: just cut a slice and enjoy, toast it, spread some butter or cream cheese, use Panettone for making a French toast. Leftovers of Panettone can be also use for the preparation of delicious bread pudding. True and traditional Italian way of serving Panettone calls for a spread of mascarpone cheese on the top of a slice of this wonderful culinary sensation.


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