The battle for the best Italian Christmas cake

No holiday meal is complete without a desert. At Christmas, while American families make the traditional pumpkin pie and the Englishmen enjoy the yummy Christmas pudding, the...

Italian Christmas cake

No holiday meal is complete without a desert. At Christmas, while American families make the traditional pumpkin pie and the Englishmen enjoy the yummy Christmas pudding, the Italians have their piece of the local Christmas cake that fills their houses with the smell of citrus, vanilla, and candied fruit.

But Italy has never taken the final decision on which is the traditional Italian Christmas cake. Since years pannetone and pandoro have been fighting for this prestigious title.

Many Italian families are literally split between panettone lovers and pandoro lovers. The first faction finds pandoro to be too simple and buttery, the second group usually hates raisins and candied fruits which abound in panettone. There is only one possible solution in this situation is just to serve both!

What’s the difference between pannetone and pandoro?

Italian Christmas cake

Panettone is a typical Italian Christmas cake with Milan origins. The cake dough requires several hours to make because it must be cured in a way similar to sourdough, rising and falling three times before being baked. The sweet, yeasty treat has a distinctive domed shape. Panettone is often compared to fruitcakes because both are traditionally made with raisins and candied fruits.

Pandoro is an Italian Christmas cake born in Verona. In Verona dialect its name means “golden bread” (pan d’oro) and its bright yellow colour actually confirms it. Pandoro usually has a star-shaped form and is dusted with powdered sugar.

How to eat the Italian Christmas cake?

Italian Christmas cake
Kids decorating panettone cakes. Credits: www.irenecakedesign.com

Either you choose panettone or pandoro, the traditional Italian ways to taste them are, fortunately, the same. Some Italians eat it together with the morning coffee, others have it as a mid-day treat with a glass of Marsala wine, others choose to have it after dinner as dessert with a good sparkling Moscato.

Italian Christmas cake

It is common to bring an Italian Christmas cake as a gift when visiting someone over during the Christmas period. For this reason from the middle of November Italian supermarkets start to display a wide range of panettone and pandoro cakes packed in festive boxes and elaborately decorated with ribbons and other accessories.