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Panettone (dome-shaped cake with sultanas and candied fruit eaten at Christmas)
Thirty centimetres tall and mounted by a dome, the typical Milanese sweet has predominated on the table at Christmas from the 15th century because of its softness and elegance. In the past, it was a typical Christmas sweet used exclusively by the Milanese and today it can be found on tables throughout the world. Garnished with raisins or candied fruits, the panettone is today one of the most loved Christmas sweets.
This simple dough is derived from yeast, butter, eggs and flour and it endears itself to the most gluttonous of palates. It is delicious when accompanied by coffee, sweet wine or spumante, custard, chocolate or zabaglione. It is custom to eat panettone on the 3rd February, on the holiday of Saint Blaise. According to legend, Saint Blaise saved a young man who was choking on fish bone and hence became the protector of throats.
There are many legends that have reference to its beginnings that attest to the origin of the name as “pan di Toni” (Toni’s bread). It is said that the boy who worked in the kitchen of Ludovico il Moro, invented a sweet bread with butter, candied fruit and leftover dough to correct a dessert that had been burnt on Christmas Eve.
A more credible version is that this “Christmas bread” would be brought to the table at the end of Christmas dinner and was said to be auspicious and healing. Its size led it to be called “pan grande” or “large bread” and finally it became known by its current name “panettone” (also “large bread”).