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In this episode we discuss the King of Breads, Panettone. This pastry bread is the tradition for Natale (Christmas) and originated in Milan. It's unique in its tall size and has a dome shape and candied citron.
The history of panettone dates back to the Romans to panem triticum which was a loaf of bread sweetened with egg and raisins.
During the Middle Ages, in Milan families celebrated Christmas was celebrated with three large loaves of wheat bread. In 1395 was issued that all bakeries in Milan must make a pan de’ sciori or pan del ton available to all on Christmas.
The history of panettone is also legend and there are three versions of the legend.
The first legend is in 1495 in the court of Ludovico il Moro. A young (14 year old) baker named Toni is assigned to prepare the dessert. He sadly falls sleep and burns the cake which sends the head chef into a rage. To save himself he uses a piece of butter saved for his mother for Christmas to make the soft bread with eggs and sugar. The chef and Ludovico il Moro are delighted. Toni was not credited by the chef but news travels to the city of the creation of the pan de Toni.
The second legend surrounds the love of Giacomo Atellani and Adalgisa, a daughter of a baker in Milan. The Atellani do not approve of the wedding because the bakery poor fortunes. Giacomo secretly decides to work for the bakery to make a bread with sugar, butter and candied citron. The bread is a success and become famous and this convinces Ughettos's love of Adalgisa.
The last legend is that of a group of nuns and Sister Ughetta. As Christmas approaches she decided to prepare a cake that will comfort her sisters during the Christmas holidays. The cake, a mixture of sugar, eggs, butter and candied citron satisfies the nuns and become popular throughout Milan.
Panettone is given as gifts and is celebrated during the Christmas holiday. The Milanese are known to hold onto leftover panetonne and eat it on Feburary 3rd for celebrating Saint Blaise https://italoamericano.org/panettone-san-biagio/
The process of baking panettone is involved and starts with a lievito madre, a stiff dough that is the starter for the bread. It is a special version of a sourdough starter. The lievito madre is mixed with egg, flour and butter and worked for three days making multiple doughs before baking. The unique baking process of panetonne involves cooling it by hanging the panetonne after baking, which helps preserve the dome shape, and cools for 10 hours.
Creating Lievito Madre (Pasta Madre)
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