Panettone recipes: all ways to taste it
Since the ’60s, panettone has been the Christmas dessert of all Italy, the true undisputed protagonist on the tables set for Christmas.
Panettone made in Sicily is today a symbol of flavors and new traditions that conquer the whole world. Precious raw materials, yeast and natural flavors, ingredients that give life to the tastiest recipes of Sicilian panettone.
There are many legends, many stories, many recipes that tell the tradition and the excellence of this delicious cake. A lot is known about its origins, but not enough. One thing is certain: at Christmas, on our tables, panettone cannot be missing.
Panettone recipe: between legends and unbelievable myths
Humble bakers, nuns, warlords, courts and castles. Such a cake could not but bring with it an unknown origin and adorn itself with dozens of myths and turbulent legends that make it even more magical. And there are stories for all tastes. Are you ready to taste them?
How many sweets were born in the kitchens of monasteries? Oh, so many. Cloistered nuns loved to knead and bake tasty cakes, and a certain Sister Ughetta (which in Milanese dialect means “raisin”) may have created a cake made with humble ingredients such as raisins, butter and candied fruit to delight her sisters on the holiest day of the year: Christmas.
Another legend, however, leads back to the time of Lodovico il Moro, in the pleasant Milan of the fifteenth century. It is thought that the falconer Ulivo degli Atellani was hired by a local baker because he was in love with his daughter. Moved by passion, he created an amazing cake that enhanced the reputation of the bakery. The two got married and lived happily ever after.
Okay, so not everyone likes sappy, melancholy fairy tales. For fans of suspense, there is a plot more intense than this legend. The son of the warlord Giacometto degli Atellani, a certain Ughetto (yes, of course), is in love with the baker’s daughter and does everything he can to marry her against his family’s wishes. The young woman’s humble origins compromise the relationship, but Ughetto gets hired as a chef to create the panettone. Needless to say, the bakery gains fame and glory. And they all lived rich and happy.
There is another legend, with comic notes for lovers of light comedy. Year 1495. At the Court of Lodovico il Moro, nobles, aristocrats and famous people are preparing to eat Christmas dinner, but in the kitchen the cook makes a mess. He burns the dessert. Luckily, there is the apprentice Toni who takes the situation in hand and mixes various ingredients such as flour, candied fruit and butter. The cook humors him and bakes the dough and serves it to the guests.
Not only is Christmas saved, but everyone appreciates the cake and licks their lips, including Lodovico il Moro who congratulates Toni. Hence, the “pan-et-tone”.
The origins of panettone cake
We love stories, especially at Christmas time, but what is the real origin of the recipe for panettone? It seems that all the legends lead back to the Milan of ‘400 and to the Sforza family.
However, written attestations take us to some centuries later, precisely to 1783 and 1599. Respectively, we read of “pani grandi” (large loaves of bread) for “Il giorno del Santo Natale” (The day of Holy Christmas) in Pietro Verri’s History of Milan, linked to the proto-Christian rite known as “del ciocco” (of the log), and of “Pani di Natale” (Christmas breads) kneaded with butter, raisins and spices in a document from the Borromeo College of Pavia.
In any case, at the time of the Grand Duchy of Milan, it seems that that of the “great Christmas breads” was already an ancient tradition and handed down for centuries. In a communal edict of 1395, in fact, is introduced the custom of consuming for Christmas “special breads”. Even the lower and middle classes could eat these breads, exclusively during Christmas time. A bread, therefore, that was reserved to the aristocracy during the year, because of its noble origins.
And the term “panettone”? Does it mean, perhaps, “leavened panetto”? The term appears in the first Milanese-Italian dictionary (the Varon milanes de la lengua de Milan by Giovanni Capis) as Paneton de Danedaa.
But only in 1853 is reference made to yeast, in Giovanni Felice Luraschi’s cookbook “Il Nuovo Cuoco Milanese Economico”. Candied fruit, instead, will be added in 1854 in “Trattato di cucina, pasticceria moderna” (Treatise of cooking, modern pastry) by Giovanni Vialardi, cook of Savoia’s house.
Panettone, as we know it today
Big breads and Christmas cakes aside, the panettone with the shape, formulation, consistency and flavor that we all know, arrived only in the early twentieth century with Angelo Motta.
Probably inspired by the Russian kulič, an Easter cake that Motta had prepared for the Orthodox community of Milan. A cake similar to panettone, but flavored with oriental spices instead of raisins and candied fruit.
Beyond the legends, myths and origins, when we think of panettone we also tend to think of all the ingredients that have made it the tastiest dessert of the Christmas tradition.
Between pistachio grains, spreadable Modica chocolate, white chocolate drizzle to eat first with the eyes and then with the mouth.
The best panettone? Yes, it is sicilian
According to some sources, the real origin of panettone is sicilian. Thanks to a writing by a traveler from Palermo which contained the panettone ingredients (the “pan farcito” ingredients), leavened and filled with raisins, honey, almonds and candied fruit, it was possible to go back to the fourteenth century.
In fact, there is a more ancient attestation which dates back to Sicily in 1311, with a recipe of “manzapanettum”, which spread during the years from Messina to Palermo.
Whether its origin is Sicilian or not, Sicilian panettone is today the most loved in the world. There are many master pastry chefs who have obtained prestigious awards such as the Fiasconaro family of Castelbuono which, for over twenty years, has been producing one of the best panettone of Sicilian excellence.
Three stars at the Superior Taste Awards in Brussels (the most important international recognition based on the evaluation of prestigious Chefs and Sommeliers) and the best panettone in Italy at Sigep, the International Confectionery Exhibition in Rimini, in 2018.
In 2012, it was the master pastry chefs Antonino Accardi, Salvatore Cappello, Giovanni Pace from Palermo, Santi Palazzolo from Cinisi and Carmelo Sciampagna from Marineo who won another title for their “Sicilian Panettone” at the Italian Master Pastry Chefs Academy.
From oven-baked figs, processed with Marsala wine, to almond paste, Bronte Pistachio and Modica chocolate. And then oranges, vanilla, manna, candied fruit, nuts.
Yes, the panettone Made in Sicily has really conquered the world, thanks to the genius, technique and experience of the greatest pastry chefs of Sicily.
Panettone cake: the best panettone recipes
Making the perfect panettone is not easy. It takes the right ingredients dosed in the right way, the right leavening, continuous experimentation, adjustments and, of course, a lot of passion.
And not even the greatest pastry masters, once they have found the perfect recipe, are satisfied. The panettone ingredients for the dough are, more or less, always the same: flour, butter, water, yeast, sugar and eggs. But you have to carefully choose the type of flour and yeast to make it just the way you want it.
And then? And then there are many recipes for the filling. From the most classic one with candied fruit and raisins, to the most tasty and elaborate ones with orange peel, chocolate, pistachio, walnuts or chestnuts. Yes, there’s also panettone with chestnuts.
Well, there are recipes for all tastes.
Classic panettone recipe
A simple recipe, handed down through the centuries and elaborated, adjusted, perfected in order to offer consumers a soft and tasty cake capable of bringing the right atmosphere during Christmas time.
The classic recipe of panettone wants rather simple ingredients, but the choice of raw materials is purely personal.
For example, it is possible to choose ready made natural yeast, fresh or powdered brewer’s yeast, mother yeast, pure white 00 flour or mixed with Manitoba flour, vanilla powder and aromas of different types. Dough making and baking also play an important role.
Want to start experimenting and prepare the perfect panettone for your Christmas parties? Here is the classic recipe for panettone to bring all the taste of Christmas on your table and surprise your guests with a traditional dessert!
Panettone with chocolate
Are candied fruit and raisins not exactly right for you? Don’t worry, you are not the only one. There are many recipes to delight the most demanding palates and chocolate, needless to say, everyone likes it!
In Sicily, we have some of the best traditional panettone with chocolate. One of them is Fiasconaro’s Panettone Nero Sublime, made with Sicilian chocolate, chocolate grains and a double dark chocolate glaze.
And if your mouth is watering, you should check out Pasticceria Di Stefano’s Sicilian Chocolate Panettone, with a soft and fluffy texture is filled with chocolate cream and covered with a chocolate glaze.
For the most demanding, there is the Bonfissuto brothers’ Sicilian Panettone with delicious chocolate coating of Modica IGP and orange candied fruit soaked in Malvasia. The true triumph of Sicilianity.
Panettone with pistachio
Panettone with pistachio is the most representative of sicilian panettone and sicilian excellence in the world. When we think of pistachio panettone, we think of Bronte pistachio and the unmistakable taste of the filling.
2020 was the year of the artisanal pistachio panettone. And no, it’s not Milan or Verona that got on the podium, but rather the sicilian Castelbuono with its panettone with pistachio by Fiasconaro signed Dolce & Gabbana.
Since 1953, Fiasconaro has been bringing Made in Sicily to the world and its Green Gold, with pistachio cream to be spread and covered with white chocolate and whole Sicilian pistachios, is certainly the panettone most purchased by consumers.
On the podium is also the panettone with pistachio of Pasticceria Di Stefano, with its white chocolate and pistachio glaze and filled with pistachio cream and natural flavors.
A true goodness, also the sicilian panettoni of Fratelli Bonfissuto, with natural leavening, a soft texture and a white chocolate and whole Sicilian pistachios covering. As in the Fiasconaro one, you cannot miss the jar of Sicilian pistachio cream to spread.
Wait wait, what did you say? You want to make the pistachio panettone yourself? Quite a challenge, but we’ll help you through it. Here is the recipe to prepare a tasty panettone with pistachio!
Panettone recipes: the taste of Christmas has never been so good
Christmas 2021 is also getting ready to arrive and you know, we Sicilians are already thinking about the moment when we will sit around the set table and someone will exclaim “buon appetito!”. We’re already licking our chops but, in the meantime, we can experiment in the kitchen with tasty Christmas treats, handmade panettone and delicious cakes. It’s time to knead!
By the way, check out our tips for a tasty Sicilian Christmas gift and let us know in the comments what traditional desserts you bring to the table every Christmas.