For years these colorful boxes have been on our supermarket shelves and I, for one, have always wondered about them; what exactly is panettone? Are they fresh? What do they taste like?
Though I married into an Italian family, I don’t recall seeing or hearing panettone mentioned. Then, a few years ago, I attended a Christmas brunch in a hotel dining room where it was suggested that I try the panettone bread pudding. It was gorgeous to look at, dotted with red and green citrus peel, with a generous dollop of real whipped cream. It was delicious, and all of us were commenting as to how good it was and “where was this all our lives?” Well, ‘we didn’t live in Italy’ is the answer, where panettone presides over the 12 days of Christmas in many homes for breakfast, tea, and dessert.
I recently bought two at the supermarket to try for myself, plain with no garnishes. At first I thought it a bit dry, but after a few bites, I realized it really wasn’t dry; it was because it is a “fluffy and light” yeast bread, not dense at all. It is not-too-sweet and lightly dotted with dried fruit. A neighbor joined me for tea where I served it again. We could have lightly spread it with a little butter, but it was enjoyable as was with our hot tea, and both of us liked that it wasn’t too sweet.
I urge you to make Panettone French Toast for one of your holiday breakfasts; it would be such a festive addition.
Cut 1-inch slices of panettone. For every four slices, whisk together 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Dip bread in egg mixture, and fry in a mixture of equal parts butter and vegetable oil until golden brown. Keep warm on a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven. Serve with maple syrup.