Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Histories of Panettone and Pandoro

Attending the Panettone and Pandoro Festival was wonderful because in addition to the samples from all the vendors, a section was dedicated to the history of both sweet breads. 

Feeding my mouth was just as important as feeding my mind. So I’ll do the same.  Here!  Have some panettone.  Now you can read on how these breads came to be.

The Legend of Panettone
Translation by my expert.  Grammatical edits by just VASGO.

Surely the most trusted and interesting story to recount concerning the birth of panettone is a story that goes back a long, long time and speaks of a youth of the name Ughetto.

One narrates that Ughetto, son of the ducal falconer Giacometto degli Atellani, had fallen in love with the beautiful Adalgisa, daughter of a modest baker.

Unfortunately, however, the great social divide between Ughetto and Adalgisa made a marriage between the two of them impossible.

In spite of everything, the two enamored youths continued to see each other in secret.

For Adalgisa’s father, the bakery’s affairs were not well and so Ughetto had an idea to resolve all their problems: he disguised himself, offered himself to Adalgisa’s father as an apprentice and began to vary all the ingredients of bread, transforming it into panettone.

The recipe was a great success to the point that the economic situation of the baker improved.

And it was so that finally Ughetto and Adalgisa were able to marry each other.  Meanwhile, panettone increased in popularity so much that it became a Christmas tradition in the whole world.

The Birth of Pandoro

The origins of pandoro are not certain.  There are those who say it goes back to the Hapsburg Empire in Austria. In fact,it would have been the pastry of the royal house of Vienna, prepared as the “ancestor” of pandoro, later becoming the “Bread of Vienna”, a variation of the French dough, brioche.

Others suggest, instead, it is native to the republic of Venice, Italy in the renaissance when the rich patrician families consumed a sweet called “Bread of Gold”, which was entirely covered in thin sheets of pure gold.

The most certain ancestors seem to be, however, those which bring it back to “Nadalin”, a sweet in the form of a star.  According to tradition at the end of the 19th century, families from Verona prepared this for Christmas.

Probably in the conception of the sweet, there entered also the Austrian pastries, which in these times were largely occupied in the more renowned bakeries of the historic center of Verona, Italy. At the end of the 19th century, pandoro had been the most typical expression of the sweets producers of Verona. Today it is consumed in all of Italy and it became, together with panettone, one of the typical sweets of Christmas festivities.

The name pandoro perfectly describes the color, which characterizes its dough, yellow gold, given to it from eggs. The consistency is soft and smooth, like brioche, from which it is probably derived. The flavor is delicate and smoothly perfumed with vanilla. From the “nadalin”, pandoro still keeps today the form of a star. Its unmistakable truncated-cone structure, large ribs arranged according to a typical design of an 8-pointed star, is obtained using a tall mold in the form of a truncated pyramid, divided in sections of acute angles.

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