Panettone 10 Interesting Facts

If there is one culinary delight in Italy that is synonymous with the festive season, this must be the Panettone. A bread like cake that was first recorded in Italian culinary books around 1853. Since then, and possibly earlier, the Panettone has taken centre stage in most Italian and world households during Christmas.

But here are ten things you probably didn’t know you didn’t know.

  1. There are many theories about the origins of Panettone. Some say it came into being when servants offered their yeast to save a failed recipe, others claim it was the creation of desperate suitors trying to impress fathers of their loved one, while others talk about an old law that determined who could bake with wheat to make bread. But the true origin is not really known, other than it has originated in Milan.
  2. Many consider it a simple Christmas case when in fact a Panettone is a sourdough – one of the most laborious baking techniques. The process used to make Panettone, makes it more fragrant and tastier, and easier to digest.
  3. To make the production process even more laborious, when Panettone has finished baking, it is flipped upside down until it cools. This prevents the bread falling in on itself it and keeps the lovely soft and fluffy texture.
  4. Panettone takes three whole days to make between the mixing, leavening, baking, and resting. That is three days of patience and respect of the natural cycle and ingredients (well worth it we think). Slow food indeed – which if you do not mind us saying is the best food.
  5. Speaking of bakery products and techniques, its name is clearly derived from the context. The word Panettone itself comes from the word “panetto” meaning a small loaf cake, with the suffix “-one” changing it to “large cake”.
  6. While the above may be a more plausible explanation of how the name came about, there is one particular legend  which we like, that attributes the name of this marvel to Toni (“Pane di Toni”), a cook in the court of Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan who on the occasion of a great Christmas banquet, tasked Toni with creating something unique to impress his guests.
  7. The first time that the word Panettone was included in the dictionary was in 1606 and more precisely we refer to the Milanese-Italian glossary.
  8. There is no doubt that Panettone has a tradition to uphold, so much so that the processes of the marvel are protected by law. Amongst other conditions, the law states that a Panettone can only be made with natural yeast. The regulations list down the following ingredients of a traditional Panettone – Wheat flour (type 0), Sugar, Chicken eggs, Butter, Raisin, Candied, fruit (citron and orange), Natural yeast, Salt.
  9. They invented it so it is no surprise that they consume loads of it. Italians consume an estimated two-and-a-half Panettone (2.5 Kg) per family per year.
  10. The laborious process to produce a traditional Panettone explains how much they cost. However, the need to exaggerate is always around the corner.  It is on record that most expensive Panettone was ordered by a Russian millionaire. The final price paid for the “special” Panettone decorated with golden leaves and diamonds was €80,000.

You are now ready to take on the next discussion about Panettone.