For the Milanese, Christmas time is panettone-time, and even though it seems that panettone has become an obsession for American bakers, well, for us in Milan this luxury bread full of rum-plumped raisins and candied citron is way more than that: it tastes of Christmas, of home, of family.

Baking panettone is a tough job
Baking panettone is a tough job

Baking your own panettone is a tough, demanding process that only the brave can endure, so for most of us the choice is between supermarket or bakery panettone. In either case, when a newly bought panettone comes to your table, the first thing you should do is to warm it slightly by keeping it close to a gentle source of heat. Beware: panettone should not be served hot, a little heat will simply enhance the delicate flavour of butter.

Slices must be generous: panettone represents Christmas, abundance, lavishness, bounty. So forget your daily calorie count and just abandon yourself to its cotton-candy texture.

Versatility is its strength, so do not be afraid to accompany it with other delicacies. One typical recipe is panettone with mascarpone cream, a soft, smooth cream made of mascarpone, fresh eggs, sugar and rum. Basically, that is the same preparation used to make tiramisu’. Just before serving the panettone, ladle a generous tablespoon of mascarpone cream over each slice and enjoy!

By the way, if you have some leftover panettone, simply replace savoiardi biscuits with panettone for a different – but equally delicious – tiramisu’.

But our favourite recipe with panettone is simple, quick and good, and we tipically serve it on February 3rd, Saint Blaise’s Day. By that time, the panettone bought for Christmas will have lost its softness. So cut it into slices, toast them until they are slightly brownish, then sprinkle each slice with vintage brandy and a cloud of powdered sugar. Food for the soul!!!