Dessert is always a favourite part of any holiday meal. Over Christmas, Italian families may serve panettone or pandoro cakes. The challenge is deciding which type of cake to buy or bake. Some find the candied fruit and raisins in the panettone a turn-off; others may believe that the pandoro is too simple, or too buttery. In order to satisfy the whole family each year, the easy solution is to serve both types of cake.
There are many noteworthy differences between the two cakes. Originating in Milan, Panettone is a Christmas cake that requires hours to make. This is because, like sourdough, the Panettone dough must be allowed to rise and fall three times before baking. This type of cake will take on a dome-like shape and is often quite sweet, due to the raisins and candied fruit included in the recipe. Because of this, it is often compared to fruitcake.
With roots in Verona, Pandoro is a Christmas holiday cake that is recognizable by its golden-yellow colour. “Pan d’oro” roughly translates to “golden bread,” which is where it gets its name. Pandoro tends to be lightly coated in sugar and baked in a star-shape.
No matter which Christmas cake you serve—Panettone or Pandoro—the desserts must be made with specific ingredients in line with traditional baking styles. Each year, Italian bakers sell a whopping 117 million cakes over the holiday season.