Panettone is the typical Christmas dessert in Italy. However, since its beginning, it quickly became known worldwide.
Panettone is a type of sweet bread loaf with raisins and candied fruits. Milan pioneered baking panettone, and thus, it is one of the city symbols.
The Panettone origin is still not clear. But it seems that since the Middle Ages, in Italy, there was the custom of celebrating Christmas with a different bread from the one eaten in everyday life.
The legend says there was a noble Milanese falcon trainer of Ludovico il Moro named Ughetto. He had fallen in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of the town baker called Toni.
Adalgisa was a poor girl, and the two were not allowed to marry.
To get closer to the young woman, Ughetto posed as a peasant. And he offered to work at the bakery for free. Thus, he could spend his evenings in the company of his beloved, helping her with the work at her dad’s shop.
Ughetto, then, had an idea to boost business at the bakery. He secretly sold the falcons and, with the money, began to add some ingredients to the bread dough, trying to experiment with a new recipe. He first added butter, then candied fruit, and, finally, raisins—luxuries in 15th-century Milan, even for a nobleman.
The success of the new recipe was incredible, and everyone wanted to buy el pan de Toni (Toni’s bread). So, he saved the bakery shop and took Adalgisa’s hand in marriage.
The word used in the Milanese dialect to call a raisin is ughett. So, it may sound too convenient. What do you think? Would you like to hear the other explanation about the panettone origin?
Once upon a time, there was a scullery cook in the Duke of Milan’s court called Toni. One day Toni’s boss burned the cake for Il Duce’s holiday feast. “What can we do? What can we do?” exclaimed Toni’s boss with his hands on his face. So, Toni took the sourdough starter he was saving for his own Christmas dinner, kneaded it into a rich confection, and saved the day.
The Duke was so pleased that he named the bread pan de Toni, which eventually became panettone.
The truth is the panettone origin is unknown. All we have are these fables transmitted from generation to generation. Grandma’s have done a great job amusing us around the fire with these ancient stories. We will let you decide which myth you hear. But please share with us in the comment box which one you think is the best story.
I hope you have enjoyed this short post. If you are interested in learning more about the Italian food culture, click here to check out another post.