Wednesday, December 21, 2005


When recently asked what holiday things I miss most from New York, being a carbo addict that I am, I quickly replied, Pannetone — Italy’s favorite Christmas dessert. It is a tall cake-like bread stuffed with dried raisins and candied orange and lemon peel. I love this bread! I’m sure our fellow-Filipinos in Italy will agree with me.

According to Nicole Martiche’s The Legend of Panettone, this bread has a rich and often varied history; that its birthplace is Milan. The most popular of the stories about its origins is a romantic tale that begins with a "Once upon a time." Ms. Martiche writes:

So it was that a Milanese nobleman and falconer, Ughetto degli Atellani, fell in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. To win her over, the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich bread in which he added to the flour and yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins and candied lemon and orange peel.

The duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro Sforza (1452-1508), agreed to the marriage, which was held in the presence of Leonardo da Vinci, and encouraged the launch of the new cake-like bread: Pan del Ton (or Toni's bread).

But according to another tale, the Panettone though invented in the court of the Sforzas, was spawned in entirely different circumstances. It was Christmas and the court cook had no dessert to offer. So the guests were given sweet bread baked by a mere kitchen boy, called Toni, which won general praise. Rather than steal the praise for himself, the cook congratulated his assistant and named it after him.

Other historians claim to have found references to "pan del ton" as far back as the 1300s. In those days some families made a thick bread with wheat flour called "pan del ton", which meant "luxury bread" in Milanese dialect.

Whatever its origins, it was only in 1919, just after the end of World War I, that Panettone became widely known thanks to a young Milanese baker, Angelo Motta, who gave his name to one of Italy's now best-known brands. It was also Motta who revolutionized the traditional Panettone by giving it its tall domed shape by making the dough rise three times, or almost 20 hours, before cooking, which is what makes it so light.

The recipe was adapted shortly after by another baker, Gioacchino Alemagna, who also gave his name to a popular brand that still exists today. The stiff competition between the two that then ensued led to industrial production of the cake-like bread.

So by the end of World War II, Panettone was cheap enough for anyone and soon became the country's leading Christmas sweet.

Read entire story …


The Legend of Panettone
by Nicole Martiche

Panettone Baking Recipe
Gifts From Your Kitchen

Photo Credit: Cyber Italia Online Store

Pinoy Blogs Directory

posted by Señor Enrique at 12:08 AM


Blogger Nick Ballesteros said...

Mukha ngang masarap, Senor Enrique! With orange peel, raisins, and candied lemon ... parang fruitcake ba sya less the alcohol?

December 21, 2005 11:30 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Much lighter than fruitcake, Watson. More like banana bread dito sa atin. This is probably already available here in Metro Manila. Once I find a source, I'll let you know.

December 21, 2005 12:10 PM  

Blogger niceheart said...

They do really look good.

Merry Christmas sa iyo, Senor Enrique.

December 21, 2005 10:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm sure they have them over there in Canada, too, niceheart.

Merry Christmas to you as well!!!

December 22, 2005 6:37 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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