Today’s Christmas Favorite features a traditional Italian fruitcake called Panettone, which originated in the city of Milan. Not to be confused with our American version of fruitcake, Panettone is a light, moist, flavorful cake more like a bread, with candied orange peel, lemon zest and raisins.
Panettone is wonderful served in slices after a meal, or even for breakfast. On this occasion, however, Tony uses it to spice up a traditional comfort dessert, with his recipe for Panettone Bread Pudding.
“Panettone is the King of Christmas Cakes in Italian culture,” according to Tony. “In Etobicoke, the Toronto neighborhood where I grew up, the grocery stores and bakeries would be stacked with huge displays of Panettone. Big, bright boxes in every color, tied with fancy ribbons, all ready to give to your friends and loved ones. To me, Panettone signifies, hey, Christmas is here now.”
Soaking the Panettone in the wet ingredients before baking ensures that every piece of bread is moist. To further ensure the outcome, place your baking dish in a water bath to prevent the bread pudding from burning, curdling or drying out during baking.
7 large eggs
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ cups milk
1 tbsp. honey
½ cup sugar
1½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ lbs. Panettone, cut into cubes
Early Preparation: Pre-heat oven to 300° F
Combine the eggs, cream, milk, honey, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the Panettone cubes and mix together. Cover with a damp towel and let the mixture soak for 30 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Place the baking dish into a larger pan (like a roasting pan), and fill with hot water until it reaches half-way up the sides of the baking dish. This water bath will help to prevent burning, drying out or curdling of the mixture.
Bake at 300° F for one hour. When ready, the top should have a nice, golden crust. Place a toothpick into the center of the dish to test for doneness. Remove from oven and allow to cool for fifteen minutes before serving, if serving warm.
To Serve: Cut into squares, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with ice cream and fresh berries. Or drizzle some of Homemade Caramel Sauce over the top for some added comfort.
To Store: Wrap tightly with plastic or place in an airtight container for up to 5-7 days. Reheat in the microwave to warm it up before serving.