My friend Natalia is from Peru, and a few weeks ago she asked me if I had a good panettone recipe. I don’t – more on that later – and was curious as to why she wanted one.
It turns out that panettone is a key part of Peru’s (and other South American countries’) Christmas traditions. Apparently, this is cause for concern amongst Italian bakers, who want to preserve the terroir and culture of the sweet bread. This Wikipedia article gives a pretty good introduction to panettone, origins of the word and recipe, and current “tensions” between Italian and South American producers. A quick Google search also yielded this funny post by an American ex-pat living in Peru.
Panettone and peru – who knew?
I’m not a big fan of panettone, partly because I don’t generally like sweet yeast breads (brioche is a notable exception), partly because I don’t like the candied fruit that’s added to it, and partly (mostly?) because I suspect that I’ve never had a good panettone. Our Italian neighbours used to give us one every year, but I have my doubts as to whether it was a really authentic panettone. Since I don’t like panettone, I have no interest in making it, and ergo, I don’t have a recipe for it.
Having said that, I love panettone French toast. Something magical happens in the process of soaking it in egg batter and frying it up. It helps if the panettone is a few days old and dried out, because it soaks up the egg like a sponge. I suppose it also helps that I serve my panettone French toast with brandy-laced maple syrup and caramelized bananas.
Panettone bread pudding is also excellent. I like it with chocolate chips and dollops of raspberry jam, the whole thing dusted with cocoa and served with creme anglaise.