Although it is now the symbol of Christmas lunch and dinners all over Italy, Panettone is the ultimate Milanese Christmas dessert. Its origin is the subject of many legends, but what is certain is that it dates back to the XV century. It is shaped like a cylinder with a rounded top, it can be high (30cm) or low (15cm), and in its original recipe the dough contains eggs, butter, raisins and candied oranges. These days you can find it without candied fruit or raisins, or with chocolate chips and custard cream. But, as any true panettone lover would say, those may taste good…but they are not the real thing!
Italians normally have it at the end of a special meal (lunch or dinner) together with coffee or a sweet wine. When one feels really indulgent you can have some fresh mascarpone cream on the side.
Panettone should not be heated before serving, but does, especially in the winter, benefit from a few minutes in a warm place, like in front of an open oven or on top of a radiator. Left-over panettone makes for a very delicious breakfast. You can find loads of industrially produced ones, and some of them are quite good but nothing beats the panettone which comes from one of the traditional patisseries in Milan.
My all-time favourite is from Marchesi, a patisserie that has been around since 1824 and whose atmosphere still has the power to bring you back in time, to the beginning of the last century. Right before Christmas, as soon as you enter their shop, you will immediately notice the table with the big pile of panettoni wrapped in white with a red ribbon. If you stay in the shop for a few minutes you’ll see this pile disappear quickly, as many people enter the shop just once a year and for the sole purpose of buying their lovely 1kg panettone.
Luckily now panettone is produced almost all year round, with the exception of the very warm months of July and August. So any time you are in town you can pick one up to take home!
mmm favourite time of the year as we are able to get now great panatones here. Every weekend we eat a whole one with our family for breakfast (for the next 3 months!). You can get in the UK a very tasty one in Waitrose, Casa Corsini, panetone classico. Beautiful wrapped, nice gift. Didn’t know you have to warm them up, we will definitely give that a try tomorrow morning! Thanks Michela!
Have to start looking for them in Amsterdam! I also didn’t know about heating them!
And I agree with the Milanese – the one with the dried fruit is the best!
Panettone contains butter so it does benefit from being “warmed” just a bit above room temperature… not heated!
they do make deliciously indulgent bread and butter pudding also, though I guess that is heating and may be seen like adding lemonade to white wine…but I like that too 🙂
I LOVE panetonne and can’t get enough of it. I make my own and although I’m sure it’s not to the quality of the ones from the traditional bakeries, it bogs on the bought ones and it’s really not hard to do. YUM!!