A festive must-have in Italy, panettone is a sweet loaf, somewhere between bread, brioche and cake which is made using an abundance of egg yolks, butter, dried fruit such as sultanas and peel or candied oranges, often from sun-baked regions like Sicily or Calabria, where citrus grows munificently. Like sourdough, panettone is proved for hours - indeed the dough is risen three times - which creates a beautiful light, fluffy finish. If you’re looking for a festive challenge, why not embark on the rewarding baking pilgrimage and make your very own panettone classico.
Once you have your gorgeous loaf, it’s not entirely obvious how to dig in! Traditionally, Italians will eat panettone for breakfast alongside coffee, however there are a multitude of ways it can be served. So, we’ve devised a list of our favourite preparation methods & pairings to elevate your Christmas panettone eating experience to the next level.
Freshly sliced with double cream
This method heroes the panettone in all its glory so, is at its best when the panettone is really fresh. An optional step is to place the whole (unsliced) panettone in the oven at around 100 °C for 5-10 minutes to warm it through.
To divide your panettone, take a large knife and slice small triangle slices as if you were cutting into a cake; from the centre at the top through the loaf to the bottom and then repeat the same motion from the same centre point with your preferred width. Remember it’s pretty tall so a narrow slice will still yield a decent portion.
Transfer onto a plate, pour a good amount of double cream on top and serve alongside a glass of marsala wine for the perfect post-dinner dessert combo.
Tear, share & dip
A little messier and a definite favourite for i bambini (children) is to tear long strips of panettone directly from the main body of the loaf and to dip into a glass of milk or a cup of rich and creamy cioccolata calda or Italian hot chocolate. Serve this combo as a special pre-bedtime Christmas eve treat and start a new Italian festive tradition with your family!
For those that don’t know, Italian hot chocolate is not your average cup of cocoa… Made with double cream, melted chocolate, sugar and milk it is the definition of ‘indulgence’ and the ultimate winter warmer. Top with whipped cream or panna to complete this chocolate reverie alongside your panettone.
Toasted with savoury topping
Where most combinations with panettone are sweet, it does also pair beautifully with some savoury flavours, particularly at the end of a meal.
Toasted and topped with cheese, chutney or ham (or all three!) is a delicious alternative to a traditional dessert as the sweet fruit from the panettone and chutney cuts through the rich and tangy cheese, for example:
- Taleggio from Lombardy with spiced apple chutney.
- Gorgonzola with figs and a drizzle of acacia raw honey from the central Italian region, Lazio.
- Calabrian scamorza with prosciutto di Parma.
Toasted with sweet topping
Perhaps our favourite combination must be freshly toasted panettone topped with a decadent, sweet topping. For example, thickly spread with rich Piemontese chocolate & hazelnut spread or simply buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar for a festive twist.
Other Italian speciality spreads such as crema al caffé (coffee cream) and crema di pistachio (pistachio cream) are also luxurious toppings ideal for toasted panettone.
Warmed & served with stewed fruit.
A great option for an Italian-inspired dinner party is to serve your warm panettone with stewed fruit such as poached pears in saffron or red wine. Alternatively, spiced stewed apples with cloves and cinnamon certainly ticks all the festive boxes. Don’t forget to top it off with a generous dollop of vanilla mascarpone or whipped cream! Buon Natale!
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