Panettone: Italian Christmas Cake

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Panettone is a classic Christmas cake that originated from Milan. In the past, panettone was made under the watchful eye of the lord of the house and if he was satisfied with the loaf he would carve a cross into the top of it. Even today, every panettone is found with a cross on top.

The origin of the word panettone is unknown, but it varies from “pan del ton” meaning “luxury bread” due to the usage of expensive flour, to “pan del Toni” which means it would be named after a the chef named Toni who saved the Prince’s Christmas banquet from burned dessert. Toni whipped up the panettone out of butter, candied fruit and scraps of dough so they were not forced to serve a dessert that had been burnt by another chef.

If eaten, it is said that it would bring the eater luck and wealth in the new year.

Preparation, baking time and resting = 3 hours (approx.)


3/4 cup (200 ml) Milk

1 1/2 oz (40g) compressed yeast OR 2 envelopes active dry yeast

9 tbsp (125g) Sugar                                                                   Photo 2013-12-12 3 51 30 PM

8 1/2 tbsp (125g) Butter (plus extra for greasing)

2 Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

1 pinch freshly grated Nutmeg

1 pinch Salt

3 1/2 cups (500g) flour

3/4 cup (100g) Raisins                                                                                   

1/4 cup (60 ml) Rum

1 tsp grated Lemon peel                 

2 oz (50g) candied Lemon peel, diced

2 oz (50 g) candied Orange peel, diced


Heat the milk and crumble the yeast into it. Stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar, cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Melt the butter, then stir in the eggs and egg yolks. Add the nutmeg and salt.

Sift the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the center. Add the remaining sugar, the yeast-milk mixture, and the butter-egg mixture and knead everything into a smooth, supple dough. Place it in a bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.

Soak the raisins in the rum for 20 minutes, then knead them into the dough along with the lemon peel and candied orange and lemon peels. Cover the dough and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and grease an 8 1/2 inch (22cm) springform pan with butter. Fold a peice of parchment paper into a strip 18 inches long and 10 inches wide (45 x 25 cm). Use the strip to form a collar for the springform pan, extending the height of its sides. Fill the pan with dough and bake for 30 minutes. Cut a cross into the surface of the panettone and bake another 20 minutes. Let it cool in the pan before serving.

Where to find this recipe and more at La Biblioteca:

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Book: “Italy: The Country and its Cuisine”

Author: Ingeborg Pils and Stefan Pallmer 

Page: 465

Call #: ENG 641 PIL

Where?: English Section

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