One of Italy’s pride is its numerous variety of Christmas treats---that includes loads of different Italian cakes and bread. As we all know, most of their names have “pan” or “pane.” However, just because they have “pan” or pane” in their names, that doesn’t mean that they are really bread. And apparently, all of them are surely not the same. Here are some of Italy's “breads” and learn how to differentiate them.
This sweet Italian Christmas cake that originated in Verona is a bread in the shape of a star. Normally, powdered sugar is scattered on top, as some people say, for the Pandoro Christmas cake to resemble the appearance of the mountains in the city. It originally came from the name pan d’oro which directly translates to “bread of gold.”
Since white bread costs a fortune during the Middle Ages and only rich people can buy it for consumption, that tradition was somehow carried on by some of the families in Verona until now. Many people still pinch pennies just to have a pandoro Italian cake once a year. In today’s way of preparing Pandoro, most of these Italian Christmas cakes have a hole in the middle and is stuffed with gelato or chantilly cream.
Pandolce originated from the city of Genova. The name of this traditional Italian Christmas cake translates to “sweet bread.” Rumour has it that pandolce was founded when Andrea Dorie, the Doge of Genova in the 16th century, called all the chefs in the said city to bring her a recipe that best represents the wealth of the Republic, and is also healthy, does not spoil easily and is suitable for long voyages in the sea.
It is a heavy traditional Italian Christmas cake, normally crumbly, and stuffed with fruit candies and spices. Based on their tradition, families should set aside a piece of the cake and give it to the poor, and another one should be stored to be served on February 3, St. Blaise’s feast day.
The panettone Christmas cake was founded in Milan. It is a sweet loaf of bread in the shape of a dome and stuffed with citrus peel candies and raisins. Most Italians know this, but most people don’t know that it takes a couple of days to make the dough. The dough of the cake should be cured just like how a baker prepares a sourdough. Most of the time, it is perfect with a bottle of sweet wine or a hot drink. An Italian cake recipe of the panettone chocolate chiostro di saronno can be found online.
With the name in mind, you might think that this is one of the literal “breads.” But you’re wrong. This is the heavy and chewy fruitcake that Siena takes pride in. This is normally filled with honey, coriander, cloves, white pepper, and cinnamon flavour.
There you have it. Those four that were mentioned above are some of Italy’s sweet Christmas treats. Although recipes have been passed through from generation to generation, most families in Italy make sure that they are still the same sweet treats that the entire family tree enjoys.