Scott & Sharon MacLean
Serving with CrossWorld in Northern Italy


Life in Italy (previous edition)

Christmas Cakes

Christmas in Italy, just like in the USA, has its special foods. I suppose I could run down the whole list, but I will save that for another time. This time I'll just tell you about the two traditional Christmas cakes - pandoro and panettone.

You may have heard of these. I know in some parts of the country you can find them. Here n Italy they are everywhere at Christmas time. Any event has a tray of pandoro, panettone or both set out. They are also given as gifts, so we usually end up with a few at home. And if we did not get enough, after Christmas they go on sale in all the supermarkets. Often there will be stack and stacks of the cakes, marked way down in price (60, 70 80% off!). Since they are usually dated to last for months, you can even buy them and save them for later if you are no longer in the mood for them (Christmas cake in July anyone?).

Our preferred cake is Pandoro. The name means "bread of gold" and it is (if you look top down) in the shape of a star (for the star of the wiremen). It is a tall, light, coarse, bready, yellow in color. it is only mildly sweet, but comes with a package of powdered sugar for sprinkling on top of the cake (or on top of each slice - depending how sweet you like it).

Panettone, is a fairly tall cake (although not at tall as the pandoro). It round and nicely rounded on top. In cities they have big concrete pieces (bout 2 feet tall) in the same shape which are used to control traffic (such as keeping cars off sidewalks, etc.). Oddly enough, the concrete pieces share the name "panettone" (from the shape and not the consistency of the cake one hopes). Panettone is also bready and coarse, but heavier and somewhat sweeter than pandoro. It has, depending the type, either raisins or raisins and dried candied fruit in it. It too is sold with powdered sugar for sprinkling, but does not need it really. We do not like candied fruit, but the ones with raisins only are ok. They are best lightly toasted and buttered.