Recognisable for its tall, rounded shape, panettone – meaning ‘large loaf cake’ – has become synonymous with Christmas in Italy. But this iconic holiday treat isn't just popular among Italians; it has become one of the most popular Christmas treats worldwide. While fantastic on its own, you can make it even more festive for the holiday table. Learn more about panettone, and explore all the different ways to serve this Italian delight.
What is panettone
Panettone is an Italian yeast-leavened sweet bread made with candied orange zest, citrons and raisins. It was created in Milan in the 15th century. Traditionally, it was known as 'pane di tono', meaning 'luxury cake'. Back then, yeast was only used to make bread for religious celebrations like Christmas. By the mid-1800s, panettone had evolved and included butter, eggs, sugar and raisins. It wasn't until panettone started to be mass-produced, in the first half of the 20th century, that it acquired its dome-like shape. Large-scale production brought panettone to the masses, and soon it became a popular holiday staple.
How to slice panettone
The traditional method of serving panettone is to remove the paper lining, get a bread knife, and cut it from top to bottom. Continuing from the same centre point, cut again, going out just a little bit from the centre to make your first thin slice. Continue cutting the panettone this way to make as many narrow slices as you need for you and your guests.
How to serve panettone
There are tons of options to enjoy panettone. Some serve it with mascarpone – an Italian fresh cream cheese. Others enjoy it with melted dark chocolate. Some people like it with a cup of coffee in the morning; others prefer their slice with a glass of Marsala wine or a sparkling Moscato after dinner as a special treat.
Grab a jar of your favourite chocolate spread, warm it slightly, and drizzle it over the panettone.
Combine fresh mascarpone cheese with eggs and sugar, and serve alongside a few slices of panettone. You can make it prettier by adding fresh berries, chocolate shavings, or a dusting of cocoa powder.
Italians typically eat panettone with a cappuccino to start the day or an espresso in the afternoon as a dessert. This iconic cake is cut into thin slices and served with cups of coffee, by itself or with other breakfast foods.
Panettone is a dessert, so we must select a dessert or meditation wine to complement it. Bubbly wines are an ideal pairing with panettone. We suggest serving it alongside a glass of Moscato d'Asti, as a dessert after dinner. Sweet and sparkling, this bubbly wine is perfect for holiday toasting, and pairs beautifully with panettone's zesty and yeasty notes. Other excellent combinations include Passito di Pantelleria DOCG, Primitivo, Recioto di Soave Classico DOCG, and Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC.