The holidays are just around the corner, which means we will be stocking piles of the famous Italian breads, Panettone and Pandoro. These sweet, leavened holiday breads have become ubiquitous during the holidays wherever there is an Italian population. The modern Panettone was developed in Milan about one hundred years ago by a baker named Angelo Motta. His creation spawned a movement in Panettone production that was quickly expanded and industrialized. A process for Pandoro-making was patented in 1894 in Verona, the city associated with this bread. But breads like these have a much longer history than that. Pliny the Elder wrote about a Pandoro ancestor two thousand years ago and Panettone-like items show up constantly in artwork and written histories from Roman times to the present.
The modern Panettone is tall, with a cylindrical base and a domed top. It utilizes a preferment (biga/poolish/sponge) and undergoes a long fermentation process not unlike sourdough, making it light and fluffy. Panettone is most commonly made with candied orange, lemon and citron, in addition to raisins that may or may not be soaked in something boozy. Mascarpone is the usual accompaniment, along with hot cocoa, sparkling wine, sweet wine or a warm winter drink.
Pandoro is a star-shaped pyramid and does not contain fruit like Panettone but is otherwise very similar in terms of process. It is dusted on top with powdered sugar to evoke the season and, of course, to turn up the volume on sweetness. Some people like to scoop out the insides from the bottom and fill it with whipped cream or ice cream, but it is more often served alongside these. Another traditional Pandoro preparation is to slice it horizontally and stack the slices in an offset pattern, creating a spiral.
Although industrial production has made these breads widely available, they are not difficult to make. A mold is required for Pandoro, and paper molds for Panettone, but other than that, no special equipment is needed and we have almost all of the ingredients here at the store. Recipes can be found everywhere, with variations regarding whether or not to cook the raisins in Marsala, what kind of preferment to make, fermentation time and so on. But if making it still doesn't sound like any fun, we have plenty in stock. In all we should have about five types, many of which have yet to arrive but will be any day now.
Finally, if your Panettone and Pandoro are not devoured in one sitting, here are three tasty things to do with the leftovers. The first is simply to fry leftover slices in butter and spread something sweet on them. Second, French toast. This is probably one of the most popular treatments for leftovers. The third is bread pudding. This is really easy since it's already sweet and it will turn out just fine if you have let it sit for too long and it has started to become stale.
So come on in and find out why Christmas just isn't Christmas without an ample supply of Panettone and Pandoro!
Big John's PFI 1001 6th Avenue South Seattle, WA, 98118, USA
Monday: 9 AM - 5 PMTuesday - Friday: 9 AM - 6 PMSaturday: 10 AM - 4 PMClosed on Sundays