If you plan on spending Christmas in Italy, there are two words you need you know: Panettone and Pandoro. These are two somewhat similar looking (but very different tasting) traditional sweet breads that are enjoyed during the holiday season. They are sold in large cardboard containers or exciting packaging (as pictured above) and come out in the hundreds, piled high in grocery stores, and lining the walls of bars and bakeries all over Italy.
Panettone is a sweet bread from Milan and is shaped like the cupola of a dome. The process to make this seemingly simple desert is actually rather lengthy and difficult, requiring many days and at least three separate dough risings. The final product, a fluffy, light dough, is filled with candied fruits and/or raisons. It is usually served with a sweet drink, often hot, and with mascarpone on top.
Pandoro, or Pan d’oro (bread of gold or golden bread), is a yeast bread baked in the shape of an 8-pointed star. Equally flaky and light, but without the candied fruit, many brands come with powdered sugar that is sprinkled all over to create a “snow-covered” effect. Like the panettone, it can also be served with mascarpone, a chantilly cream, or even gelato.
I personally enjoy my Pandoro dipped in coffee the morning after. Next time you’re here, make sure you try it. It only comes out once a year!