Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
How to Make Panettone: Recipe and Traditions

“Pandoro o panettone?” is one of the archetypical questions in Italy—like shower or bathtub, spaghetti interi or spaghetti spezzati (whole or broken-in-half spaghetti), mare o montagna—as well as an eternal battle that takes place every year around Christmas. There are plenty of Christmas treats and in particular, sweet breads. Most of them are common in specific areas only, but panettone and pandoro, instead, are eaten and loved everywhere in the country, and have come to acquire the status of dolci di Natale.


Pandoro and Panettone: Past and Present

Both pandoro and panettone are originally from Northern Italy. Pandoro is from Veneto and in particular, from Verona. It’s been around for a long time, but the first references of a specific sweet bread named pandoro dates to the eighteenth century. The first patent to produce pandoro industrially was granted in 1894 to Domenico Melegatti, and Melegatti is still one of the most famous brands. Pandoro means “golden bread” (pane + oro) and it comes in a very specific shape —a frustum with an eight-pointed star section. It is normally dusted with powdered sugar to recall the white peaks of the Italian Alps at Christmastime. And—to add richness to the buttery and already very rich mixture—it is often served with a mascarpone-based pastry cream.


Panettone is, instead, originally from Milano. Its main ingredients are flour, eggs, candied fruits, and raisins, but there are endless variations that can include chocolate chips, figs, almonds, and much more. It has a cupolashape and is at times served with mascarpone like its cousin pandoro. Compared to pandoro, panettone is less buttery—and thus lighter, according to some—but candied fruits might not be a favorite for kids, who usually go for the cute, star-shaped pandoro. The name panettone means “big bread” (pane + the augmentative suffix -one), although many argue that means il pane di Toni—with “Toni” being, according to tradition, the young baker who almost accidentally invented it. It’s been around since the Roman Empire—well, something similar to it, at least—but its first attestation dates back to 1599. And it’s only at the beginning of the twentieth century that it came to have its current shape and taste, and to be industrially made.


Both pandoro and panettone can indeed be industrially made, and can be found in supermarkets and grocery stores—but if you want the real experience, you need to buy a panettone/pandoro di pasticceria (patisserie). Or you can make your own! Let’s pick one—panettone (pandoro lovers, please do not take this personally) and see how to do that.


How to Make Your Own Panettone: A Recipe

The first thing you need to make your own panettone is … time. Making a panettone is a long process that involves curing the dough, like you would do with sourdough. The proofing process alone takes days, but it is necessary to reach that most-wanted fluffiness. Then you need … high-level cooking skills. Every cooking website on the Internet—and every old-school cook book—would label it from very to extremely hard. Granted all that, you need ingredients for the first dough (flour, water, sugar, yolks, starter, butter, malt) and ingredients for the second dough (flour, butter, raisins, vanilla beans, orange and lemon paste, sugar, yolks, and honey, just to stick to the indispensable ones). And then, “just” follow the procedure (and we would recommend here to go to an Italian website to get an “original” one). It would also be fun—and as always, good practice!—to convert measurements and such (plus, it’s an extra level of difficulty, in case you need some challenges in your life). So, roll up your sleeves, good luck, and enjoy your awesome panettone!


By Claudia Quesito


Also read:

Top 8 Christmas Dishes in Italy
Italian Christmas Traditions (Tradizioni Natalizie Italiane)

Italian Fall Traditions


Comments are closed.