Christmas Panettone

°°Panettoneimage courtesy of the Guardian UK

Christmas day at last. And it is a winter wonderland white Christmas indeed. Everyone awakened this morning to a blustery but brilliantly sunny day. Our store is shuttered and quiet today and we have a long awaited day off to do just about nothing. Except declutter our desks, and send woefully tardy emails to friends and colleagues. And eat a little bit. It is back to work tomorrow, so we will wait until the weekend to get back into the kitchen and cook a Christmas feast.

In our store, one of our most sought-after Christmas treats is Italian Panettone – the soft, eggy, fruit-studded sweet bread that is wonderful cut into thick slabs and accompanied by a hot fragrant cup of tea, coffee, or a glass of Vin Santo. Customers run in and out of our store all during the month of December and grab panettones on the fly for hostess gifts, teachers gifts, etc. Each bread is beautifully wrapped in festive paper and ribbons, befitting of the delicious treat nestled inside.

Interestingly, this year I have encountered recipes using panettone as the base for french toast and bread pudding – inspired ! Here are some of those recipes, just in case you have an extra panettone on hand.

Panettone French Toast

3 slices from a 1 lb panettone, cut 1-inch thick
1 large egg
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch cinnamon
butter for sautéing

Mix all ingredients ( except bread ) in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a saute pan or skillet and keep the heat on low. Throughly soak each piece of bread in the in egg mixture and add to the saute pan. Cook until golden brown and serve warm with fresh fruit or maple syrup.

Panettone Bread Pudding – from January ’09 Gourmet magazine
serves 8

1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup brandy, heated
1/2 sticl unsalted butter, softened
1 lb panettone, sliced 1-inch thick
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 & 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1. Soak raisins in hot brandy for 15 minutes, the drain.
2. Butter panettone on both sides and cook in batches on a large heavy skillet over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients.
4. Tear panettone into bite-sized pieces and spread evenly in a buttered 13×9-inch baking dish. Scatter raisins over top, then pour in egg mixture. Let stand 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle position.
6. Bake until pudding is golden and just set, about 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Panettone Upside Down Cake
serves 4-6

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
8 cups cubed pieces panettone ( about 8 slices )
5 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ginger

1. Line a 8x8x2 pan with aluminum foil, allowing excess foil to hang over the sides of the pan. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Melt the butter in a small skillet and pour it into the prepared pan. Tilt pan to cover the entire botton. Sprinkle brown sugar over the melted butter, and distribute the pecans over the top of the brown sugar. Place the panettone cubes evenly over the pecans.
3. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla and ginger, whisking well. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes, pressing down to ensure cubes are well coated. Bring the ends of the aluminum wrap up to cover, and cover all with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
4. Remove from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap.
5. Preheat the over to 350°F. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cake is set.
6. Peel back the aluminum foil and carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter. Remove the foil, cut into squares and serve immediately.

We wish everyone a lovely and joyous holiday season, filled with love, friendship and good food. As Tiny Tim said so prophetically many years ago:
” God Bless us every one. “

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