Thanks to my Italian heritage, panettone has always held a place of honour at the Christmas table. Despite loving traditional Christmas pudding, I’ve long since given up serving it as I’m the only one in my family who eats it – and there’s only so many leftover solutions I can summon up. This year, it seems, many Brits feel the same way, and panettone is so in demand that it’s outstripping Christmas pudding sales.
Waitrose reports that searches on its website for panettone are up 40 per cent compared to the same time last year, while Selfridges expects to sell three times more panettones than puds as shoppers look for a lighter alternative to the hefty steamed dessert.
Originating from Milan, panettone is a sweet, dome-shaped bread dating back centuries, well known now around the world as a symbol of Italian tradition. The buttery dough is typically studded with candied fruits and raisins and the signature fluffy texture is thanks to the slow fermentation process (sometimes over 12 hours). The less said about the modern variations (salted caramel, limoncello, cheese and black pepper…) the better.
The beauty of this Italian bread is that it’s not overly sweet, and will last the whole festive period. It can be eaten at any time of day – lightly toasted at breakfast with a caffe latte, smeared with mascarpone and a drizzle of honey for lunch, or, as we do in our family, carved into small slices to nibble with a glass of sweet wine (or espresso) after dinner.
If you do find yourself with an extra few slices of panettone to make use of, there are plenty of delicious ways to serve it. Make sure you store your panettone at room temperature, in the original bag and box to prevent drying out, and try one of these five creations.
Call it what you wish but eggy bread, French toast or pain perdu offers the most wonderful way to start a weekend or holiday morning. While it’s fabulous made with any bread, the flavours and textures of panettone make this version extra special.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5-8 minutes
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 thick slices panettone, each about 75g, halved
A drizzle of sunflower oil and small knob of butter, for frying
Icing sugar and/or runny honey or maple syrup, to serve
Beat the eggs, milk and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl.
Lay the panettone slices in the mixture and leave for 2 minutes then turn over and leave until all the mixture has been absorbed.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter together in a large frying pan. Cook the bread for 2 minutes on each side (you may need to do this in batches) until golden brown.
Transfer to warm serving plates and dust with icing sugar and/or drizzle with a little honey.
Simple panettone and cherry trifles
This is particularly good made with chocolate panettone but any type will work fine. I prefer to use a tin of creamy yellow custard for this rather than the premium fresh varieties but feel free to go with whatever you like best. Cherries in kirsch are a staple in my cupboard over the festive period but canned cherries in syrup with a dash of cherry brandy or marsala will do the trick too.
Trifle is brilliant for scaling up to serve a crowd and at its best made the night before and chilled until ready to serve. Decorate however you like; try chocolate curls, chopped pistachios, crushed biscuits, festive sprinkles or, of course, silver balls.
Prep time: 15 minutes plus chilling
75g-100g sliced panettone
100g black cherries in kirsch plus 3-4 tbsp of the syrup
150ml double cream
1 tsp icing sugar
Decorations of your choice
Cut the panettone into fingers and place in the base of two small glass bowls. I like a high ratio of panettone to custard but vary the quantity to suit your own preferences and the size of your bowls.
Spoon the cherries on top of the panettone then drizzle over the syrup. Spoon over the custard in an even layer then cover and chill until ready to serve.
Lightly whip the cream and sugar together until it’s firm enough to hold its shape but isn’t too stiff. Spoon over the custard, then decorate and serve.
Limoncello panettone ice cream
This is a brilliant way to use up a slice or two panettone and create a whole new pudding with not much effort. The limoncello can be substituted for orange or coffee liqueur or can be left out altogether, however the alcohol doesn’t completely freeze which results in deliciously boozy crumbs within ice cream.
Prep time: 30 minutes, plus freezing time
Cook time: 5 minutes
4 - 6
500g tub vanilla ice cream
75g panettone, torn into small pieces
2-3 tbsp limoncello
Mini stroop waffles or biscotti to serve
Place the tub of ice cream in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to soften up.
Meanwhile, toast the panettone in a large frying pan, stirring frequently until crisp and golden. Pour over the limoncello and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Scoop the ice cream into a bowl, add the limoncello crumbs and quickly beat in. Return to the tub and freeze for at least a couple of hours until firm.
Scoop into bowls and serve with a biscotti and shot of espresso.
Panettone and ricotta fritters with coffee ice cream
These creamy little pancakes are really simple to make. For extra fluffy results, separate the eggs and whisk the white until stiff the fold into the batter just before cooking.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
75g self raising flour
100g panettone, crumbled
Sunflower oil, for brushing
Coffee ice cream, to serve
Beat together the eggs and ricotta until smooth then stir in the flour and panettone to make a thick batter.
Brush a large nonstick frying pan with oil and cook spoonfuls of the batter for 2-3 minutes until the bubbles appear on the surface and the fritters are firm enough to flip.
Turn carefully and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until golden. Repeat with the rest of the mixture then divide the fritters between plates and serve with a scoop of ice cream.