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Saturday, May 18, 2024
  Panettone, the tall, cylindrical, fruit-filled sweet bread from Milan has become an essential part of the Christmas season. You can make this bread two months in advance, wrap it tightly in heavy-duty foil and freeze it. Since the bread making begins with a starter dough, or sponge, and requires a long rising time, it is best to begin the process the evening before baking or early in the day.

There are many variations of a romantic legend about the origins of panettone. Supposedly, there was a Milanese baker named Toni who had a beautiful daughter. A young man who worked for Toni wanted to marry this daughter. In an attempt to win the father's approval, the young man created a special sweet bread, filled with fruits and other rich ingredients. The bread made Toni's bakery famous. People began to call the bread "pan ad Toni", or Toni's bread. Toni became wealthy and, needless to say, allowed the young man to marry his daughter.

During the Christmas season, Italians eat panettone at breakfast with coffee, between meals with Marsala wine, and after dinner with spumante. Leftover panettone can be toasted and spread with butter or mascarpone cheese for breakfast or used to make a wonderful French toast.

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