What is Panettone and Is It Healthy?

5 minutes read.

Some Sweet Facts and Legends On Panettone.

For a start, it’s bread; not cake like I thought it was! It’s made out of sweet, rich dough and is typically eaten at Christmas. It is normally made out of raisins, candied fruit peels, almonds, wheat, butter, eggs, sugar, and brandy. After it’s baked, it is hung upside down until it cools down so it doesn’t fall in on itself and stays soft and fluffy.

It originates from Milan in Italy and has been given as gifts since the 14th and 15th centuries.

There are some charming legends/traditions associated with panettone.

The first one involves a nobleman, Ughetto, who fell in love with Adalgisa, a daughter of a baker whose business was struggling. Ughetto’s family forbade him to marry her. However, he just couldn’t keep away from her so he disguised himself and got a job at the bakery.

One day, he bought some butter and sugar and added it to the bakery’s bread mix. This bread became very popular and the bakery’s sales picked up. Then, at Christmas, he added candied peel and raisins to the mix. This resulted in the bakery becoming prosperous because it was its most popular product.

Ughetto’s family was so impressed that finally, they give their permission for him to marry Adalgisa. Aw!

It is a tradition to save a slice of panettone to eat on the 3rd of February when it is San Biagio’s day. Apparently, Biagio saved a child from choking on a fishbone by giving him a piece of bread.

Another legend about panettone is when a young scullery boy saved the day in the 15th century when he threw together some scraps of orange peels, and raisins to the leftover dough, from a dessert that had been burnt and was meant to be presented to a Duke. The pastry chef who was supposed to be responsible for the original dessert was, shall we say ‘distracted’ by a nobleman’s wife!

This new dessert was a success and it was named after the scullery boy; Toni.

Other Panettone Facts.

Italy produces more than 7,000 tons of panettone each year; 10% of it is sold internationally.

A really expensive one was once made for a billionaire. It was decorated with golden leaves and diamonds and if you have 80,000 euros (90,000 dollars) to spare, you can have one made yourself!

The largest panettone that was ever made, weighed a whopping 332 kg (732 lb). It was 1.5 metres tall and was created by chocolatier, Davide Comaschi. Check out this YouTube video.

Panettone can be eaten with mascarpone cream, melted chocolate sauce, or crema inglese (light, pouring custard.)

If you fancy making one yourself, traditionally it takes about 48 hours to bake.

Is Panettone Healthy?

As panettone contains raisins, there are a few health benefits because raisins may help to:-

  • Improve performance for athletes engaging in moderate-to-high-intensity endurance exercise. This was demonstrated by a study that showed raisins were as effective as sports jelly beans to help athletes because they are an excellent source of carbohydrates.
  • Aid digestion. This is because of raisins’ high fibre content.
  • Maintain healthy teeth and bones. Raisins contain a good amount of calcium. In fact, they are a fantastic snack for postmenopausal women because they could help to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Remove free radicals from your blood. This is because of the antioxidants in raisins which could prevent damage to your cells and DNA which may lead to cancer, heart disease, and strokes.

However, these health benefits could be negated by the high amount of fat, due to the butter and sugar that is in panettone.

Do you eat panettone? Have you ever made one or do you prefer shop-bought ones? As usual, let me know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading this post.

Rachel x

Sources: bbc.com, allrecipes.com, eattaly.com, justfunfacts.com, gastronomica.co.uk, webfoodculture.com, copperandholly.co.uk, healthwellbeing.com, healthline.com, bbcgoodfood.com

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6 responses to “What is Panettone and Is It Healthy?”

  1. I’ve had panettone at Christmas for many, many years and it’s such a treat (this is the only time I have it because it’s certainly not the healthiest bread). I get an individual one and have a slice with some coffee on Christmas morning and it’s delicious. Thanks for sharing the history of it, I had never learned about it’s origins!

  2. Fun article, Rachel. Thanks for sharing. I’d never heard of panettone before, but with “pan” as a beginning, it makes sense that it’s a bread as opposed to cake. Thanks again. Turly interesting!

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