03 July 2018   •   Redazione

Italian Panettone vs Pandoro: the Made in Italy challenge

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«When Christmas is approaching, there comes the usual dilemma, which, for many, is not at all a dilemma: do you prefer the Italian Pandoro or Panettone? Today Snap Italy accompanies you to discover the strictly Italian origins of the two desserts which, more than any other, represent Christmas in the Belpaese »


The pandoro was born in Verona around the ‘200 and the legend linked to its birth tells how during the Renaissance in the Venetian Republic certain sweets were served which were covered with a thin layer of pure gold: among these there was a conical shape called “pan de oro“. It is also thought that the name pandoro may depend on the combination of bread, given the natural leavening, and gold, given the characteristic yellow color of the dough, given by the eggs. The star shape would derive from the “nadalin“, a humble dessert that the Veronese used to consume at Christmas. The stable production of pandoro as a dessert linked to Christmas began in Verona at the end of the 1800s in the old offellerie, where the master confectioners who had studied in Vienna learned the techniques of this cake’s dough. In 1884 Domenico Melegatti officially deposited the recipe to the patent office and, during the 20th century, pandoro joined the Italian panettone on the Italian tables.

The origins of the Italian panettone, however, are to be found in Milan in the ‘200, surprisingly in the same period in which the pandoro was born, when it was considered a type of sweet bread. From the ‘400 on, the panettone became a legend. In fact, there are already several stories related to the birth of Italian panettone. According to the first, a young man from a noble family had fallen in love with a girl of humble origins, the daughter of a baker. In order to conquer her, the young man was hired as a boy by the girl’s father and, in order to be able to impress her, he tried to conquer her  throat first, inventing a new recipe: the Italian panettone!

The other story that tells of the origin of the Italian panettone sees its creation at the hands of the kitchen stew Toni. The boy, to help the head chef who was desperate for having burned a cake, suggested that he served his invention to the guests of a sumptuous Christmas lunch hosted by Ludovico il Moro: the “pan di Toni “, today known as panettone. The recipe was designed simply from the ingredients left in the pantry.

The packaging of the Italian panettone originated at the hands of Angelo Motta at the beginning of the 20th century and it is still used in Italy and worldwide. The name panettone derives, in all likelihood, from the fact that it was actually a very large sweet bread. Which of the two stories is true is unknown, what is certain is that from the 15th century the Italian panettone spread from Lombardy and then arrived throughout the whole of Italy, thus becoming part of the sweets symbol of Christmas. Panettone production was handmade until the beginning of the 20th century, when it also became industrial and this dessert began to be exported all over the world.

Pandoro vs Italian panettone: differences and similarities

Let’s start by illustrating the differences between the two typical Christmas desserts:

  • the Italian panettone dough contains candied citrus peel and raisins, while pandoro contains vanilla aromas or vanilla, and is usually covered with sugar icing;
  • the panettone’s shape is typically round-coned, whereas the pandoro has a star section.
  • the crust is absent in the pandoro and is instead a characteristic of the panettone.

What these two desserts have in common is that since 2005 only those who comply with certain rules of production can name their products with these names. The rules concern the ingredients and the formulation of the dough; the aim is to obtain the highest quality products that represent the Made in Italy both in our country and in the rest of the world. A little curiosity: Pandoro is usually preferred among young people and women, while the Italian panettone, on the contrary, meets the preferences of more mature people and men.

This said, which one do you support in the eternal Italian panettone vs pandoro?

Ilaria Roncone

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