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The panettone tradition: real panettone for your Italian Christmas

Italy’s Christmas tradition wouldn’t be complete without panettone.
The large, Italian sweetbread is an absolute protagonist in the Italian Christmas lunch, being the favoured dessert during festive times.
There are essentially two types of panettone – the boxed panettone that you get in the supermarket, and the rich, wholesome panettone that you buy at an Italian pastry shop.

The latter is the real deal – real panettone should not be like a dry cake, but a soft, humble sweetbread of large proportions traditionally made with sultanas and other candied fruit.
The theories as to the origins of panettone are varied.

There is the legend that it was created by a kitchen hand at the court of the Sforza’s to replace the chef’s cake that was burnt in the oven.
Another story goes that the falconer of Ludwig the Moor, in love with the daughter of the baker, saved the bakery from bankruptcy by selling the falcons, and buying the ingredients for the panettone.
The sweetbread then became a hit with the Milanese.
It is also said to have been a dessert that was created from the simple, leftover ingredients in the pantry, made by a nun who then drew a cross in the top of the dough to thank God for his providence.

Whatever the origins, the panettone is now an essential part of the Italian Christmas tradition.
If you’re currently in Italy for the festive season, it’s likely that you’ve already had enough questionable panettone to satisfy your taste for it, including all the horrifying versions of cappuccino panettone, nutella panettone and others.
But if you want to give a gift at Christmas that will complete the humble family feast, buy a panettone from a bakery that knows what they’re doing.
With a glass of moscato, it’s the perfect Italian dessert for your Christmas lunch.

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