Christmas Taste – 8 things you must know about Pandoro & Panettone cakes

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Christmas Sweets

Every year, Italian families are divided on the issue of Christmas desserts. The question is: Pandoro or Panettone? These two traditional sweets compete for the title of favorite Italian Christmas cake annually.

So, if you are looking for some dinner ideas perfect for your December holidays here, read more about these big players in Italian festive tables… but remember – finally, you’ll love them both 😉

What are they?

  • Pandoro is a super-sweet fluffy cake made basically of simple flour, sugar, butter, eggs and brewer’s yeast. Its powdered-sugar topping will remind you of a winter snowcapped mountain.
  • Panettone is more compact and composite. Actually, it’s characterized by a mix of honey and pieces of candied fruits. So, if you love raisin and candied orange, it’s absolutely your dessert.


What’s their story?

  • Pandoro is originally from Verona, the city of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, close to Venice. The Italian chef Domenico Melegatti created it there in the late 19th century. He called his cake “Pandoro” which means “Golden Bread”, to evoke some ancient Venetian cakes which were covered with gold leaf for aristocrats.
  • Panettone is even more ancient and comes directly from Milan. It was probably cooked for the first time in the 13th century, and there are a lot of legends about its creation in the City Court of the time. For sure, it has always been prepared with raisin, which is a tasty symbol of good luck and prosperity.


How do they look like?

  • Pandoro is an eight-point star. Actually, it derived from the starry Medieval Nadalin. This previous Christmas cake was created in Verona too, but in the late 13th century, in order to celebrate the noble family Della Scala during their first Christmas as Lords of the City.
  • Panettone is simply domed shaped and, according to the legend, it came out from a mistake. It was prepared in Medieval Milan for a Christmas Eve dinner in the Court… but its typical crust was merely over-cooked. Luckily, the Lords of the City appreciated it as a new kind of dessert, so their chefs were saved and Panettone has become a culinary symbol of Milan.

How could you serve them?

  • Pandoro is delicious but very simple. So, it’s perfect also to be decorated or filled with cream, chocolate, custard or Mascarpone cheese. Italian people often have it with a cup of Espresso coffee, after lunch, or with a glass of Prosecco for toasting during Christmas’ or New Year’s dinner.
  • Panettone is more flavored, because of its candied fruits. Anyway, if you desire, you could serve it with a little taste of custard and a glass of Prosecco white wine for your good wishes and toasts.

Finally, since you’ve become an expert in Italian Christmas cakes… what about typical Italian Christmas nougat? Have you already read our article about Torrone?