Christmas desserts: the Panettone, the king of Italian holidays
The Panettone has been the only protagonist of every Christmas: soft, aromatic and with an unmistakable taste, it ends with joy every Christmas feast. The story of this italian cake has roots in many different legends. For example, there are those who say it was made by Cristoforo Messisbugo, a pastry chef living in Ferrara, who in 1594 mixed flour, butter, sugar, eggs and milk to achieve the perfect mixture. Another legend explains the birth of the cake from an etymological point of view: the father of the Panettone could be Toni, a poor scullery boy from Ludovico il Moro’s court, (Lord of Milan) who, on the day of Christmas Eve, was forced to think about a new cake for the Lord’s Christmas party, seeing that the previous candidate was lying burned and unuseful on the kitchen table.
He then decided to give up the small pat of yeast he had jelously kept for himself, and after kneaing it and adding raisins, eggs and sugar, he gave his master the cake that soon became the main symbol of Christmas. After all, even history itself confirms the Panettone’s humble origins: according to a Medioeval custom, Christmas was the only day of the year when the bakeries of Milan, birthplace of the Panettone, were allowed to bake wheat bread, giving to the people a rich and tasty pastry to make the holidays even sweeter.
In love with dessert: not only Panettone, Christmas is much more!
Without having to bring out the Pandoro, another Christmas cake in eternal war against the Panettone, the culinary italian tradition has many original ideas to give a personal touch to your holidays’ dessert: every region, with its customs and traditions, has a rich heritage of tasty recipes. From the more “rural” cake to the classic ones, from the aroma of the fruit to the taste of the chocolate: let’s find out together how to make Christmas the best day of the entire year!
Christmas “Tronchetto” cake: heart of chocolate
It arrived from France to stay in Piemonte: the Christmas “Tronchetto”, originally called Buche di Noel, recalls the shape of a real trunk, covered by a thin dark chocolate frosting, which will light up your senses and warm up your hearts. Inside, a roll of cookie pastry.
“Zelten” cake: just for Christmas
The Zelten brings us to the region of Trentino Alto Adige, to the discovery of the receipe of the most typical cake of Christmas time. Pine nuts, oranges, lime, almonds, raisins, citron… an explosion of candied and dried fruit for a bold dessert, main protagonist of the menu. But the Zelten is also very romantic: in fact it was meant to be baked only by women and then to be given away to all the future grooms of the village, as a good luck charm.
“Pandolce” Cake: the international Liguria
Rounded, soft and full of raisins and candied fruit: the “Pandolce” cake never disappoints and every Christmas it conquers the hearts of Genoa. Its mixture is so tasty that it was also imported in the USA. The Genoa Cake, as it is known abroad, brings with it a piece of Italy on the other side of the Ocean. Its tradition however has roots in the heart of the old seaside city: the oldest memeber of every family had to cut the cake in two, giving one half away to the a poor wayfarer as gesture of Christmas solidarity.
“Ricciarelli” sweets: small but tasty
Siena, in the beautiful region of Toscana, is the birthplace of these small cakes, made only in the week before Christmas. Almonds, sugar and egg white are added to the mixture… the final result? Small sweets with a crunchy and aromatic crust and an hidden soft inside. The perfect fit with a cup of coffe or tea.
Sweet and salty… Panpepato!
The price for the most orginal dessert goes to the region of Umbria: an explosive mix of different tastes, from the sweet one of the chocolate to the spicey one of the pepper, from the full texture of honey to the Christmas taste of the cinnamon… the Panpepato is a must of every Christmas dinner in Umbria.
Pangiallo: a sunny winter
Even when it snows, in the region of Lazio people dream of the sun! The Pangiallo is a curious dessert, covered by a tasty frosting made with saffron, which gives its typical yellow colour. Inside, a triumph of dried fruit. This cake is still today only baked in the day of the Winter Solstice, with the hope that this sunny cake will bring sunny days as well.