What’s in this article
Have you ever tried panettone or pandoro before?
Around the holidays in Italy, the whole country is filled with the sweet smells of those classic Italian Christmas cakes.
Nothing says Christmas here quite like panettone and pandoro taking center stage on every table.
Families have their favorite bakeries they buy from each year, and I have such fond memories growing up of tearing into the first slices after big Christmas dinners at home.
The two cakes are like the king and queen of Italian holiday baking.
Pandoro is brilliant light and fluffy – almost like a cloud of sweetness.
Panettone then again is denser, with juicy bursts of candied fruit and raisins in each bite.
How to serve Pandoro and Panettone
You’ll find pandoro and panettone anywhere from early December thru Epiphany.
Bakeries and shops are filled with their fabulous packing boxes, perfect for gifting too.
It’s not unusual to show up empty handed at a pal’s house, only to go away with this type of beauties in tow!
There are such a lot of approaches to revel in them too – a few like them simple as the correct finishing to a meal, even as others choose sipping prosecco along slices.
Me, I love pandoro for an afternoon pick-me-up with tea.
And don’t even get me started on how delicious they are for breakfast!
You should try these iconic Italian Christmas desserts in case you get the chance.
Whether you go for panettone filled with dried fruits or the classic pandoro dusted with powdered sugar, one aspect’s for sure – they may be never dry or stale.
Bite into that smooth interior and you may understand why they’re such a liked Christmas tradition.
And the best part is you may serve them up however you like – instantly out of the box at room temp, topped with creamy sauces, or maybe stuffed with ice cream for an additional indulgent treat.
Pandoro is suitable for creamy additions like mascarpone cheese, pastry cream, or chocolate hazelnut spread.
While Panettone signature candied fruits deliver it more flavor out of the box, don’t be afraid to get creative right here too.
Think alongside the same lines as above – slice, fill, and wow your guests.
A dollop of pastry cream nestled in smooth panettone crumbs is sure to turn out to be a brand new favored for your holiday gatherings.
However you experience them, pandoro and panettone are sure to get you in the festive spirit this holiday season in Italy!
Italian Christmas Cakes: Where Pandoro comes from?
You know the ones suitable golden Christmas cakes shaped like stars?
Those are pandoro – and they’ve got pretty the thrilling records.
While panettone would possibly get more hype as being Milan’s famous Christmas cake, pandoro actually hails from the town of Verona up north.
The story has it that Pandoro comes from a medieval star-shaped cake named Nadalin.
Can you imagine what all that would have been like a hundred years ago?
Well fast forward to the 1800s when a baker named Melegatti put his own spin on the classic.
His version of Pandoro was smaller, taller, and had that perfect dome shape we know today.
Word spread quickly about Melegatti’s creation and before you knew it, he had a thriving business himself.
The man really helped shape what Pandoro is today.
It’s great to think that 200 years later its namesake is still going strong making everyone’s favorite Christmas treat.
What Pandoro mean?
Did you know that this name is a dead giveaway about what makes this cake so special golden? “Pandoro” literally translates to “Pan d’oro” (golden bread.)
And that beautiful color doesn’t come from food coloring – it comes from all the eggs used in the dough.
Italian Christmas Cakes: Where panettone comes from?
Believe it or not, this amazing Christmas cake has been a staple in Italy since the 1400s or earlier.
Legend has it that the first panettone was born in Milan during the Renaissance.
Tony, a clever young kitchen hand, gets bored one day washing dishes for the noble Sforza family.
So instead he decided to create something a little sweeter for his colleagues.
As fate would have it, the recipe meant for Duke burned beyond repair and Tony’s creation was served instead.
Luckily it was a hit!
Word spread quickly and before you knew it, panettone was being enjoyed all over Milan every Christmas.
Pretty cool how the bored dishwasher inspired an entire holiday tradition, right?
What Panettone mean?
And it all comes full circle when you realize the name of the cake is really just “Tony’s Bread.”
Pan di Tony – How fitting for the baker who started it all.
Next time you’re biting into panettone this season, raise your slice to the legend of Tony’s original!
If you want to listen along while reading the original Panettone story in Italian, you can find it here.
The story is read aloud by me, a native speaker, so you can follow along by listening and reading together.
It’s a great relaxed and fun way to improve your language comprehension.
My favorite Italian Christmas cake
Now I know pandoro gets a lot of love too, but for me nothing beats a classic panettone.
Don’t let its simple ingredients fool you – this cake packs serious flavor.
The best ones use just the basics, like butter, eggs and dried fruit, allowing each component to really shine.
Baking your own panettone is no small feat either!
It’s a labor of love requiring stages of mixing and proofing.
No wonder most folks just buy one already made – and luckily Italy has no shortage of excellent bakeries producing them.
When you find that perfect panettone, you’ll understand the magic.
Just opening the packaging fills the air with the most heavenly Christmas scents.
And that tender, moist interior…each bite is better than the last.
So this season, do yourself a favor and grab an extra panettone to enjoy.
I promise just one taste will have you hooked on this simple-yet-special Italian Christmas cake like me!
Buon appetito friends.