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Here we like to share with you the history of Panettone!

The history of Panettone is shrouded in mystery and legend, as is often the case with traditional foods. Panettone is a world-famous Italian Christmas cake with a history dating back centuries.

In 1470, a document written by Giorgio Valagussa, tutor to the Sforza family, traces the first steps in the history of Panettone through the so-called 'rite of the ciocco.' During the Christmas period in Milan, a tradition saw families place a large wooden log on the fire. The head of the family would distribute slices of wheat bread to the diners, keeping one for the coming year as a sign of good omen. This bread had a special significance, especially for the less well-off, since bakers during the rest of the year were forbidden to use the valuable wheat flour, which was reserved for the wealthy classes. At Christmas, the Milanese guilds decided that everyone should share the same bread, called 'Pan de Sciori' or 'Pan de Ton,' a luxury bread enriched with sugar, butter and eggs.

The first trace of a recipe resembling Panettone dates back to 1549 when Cristoforo di Messisbugo, a cook from Ferrara, listed the ingredients of a typical Milanese cake, including flour, butter, sugar, eggs, milk and rose water, specifying that it should rise well and have a round shape.

In 1599, in a register of the Collegio Borromeo in Pavia detailing the expenses of the Christmas meal, reference is made to three pounds of butter, two pounds of sultanas and two ounces of spices needed to prepare "13 large loaves." This recipe bears a striking resemblance to that of Panettone, and from time to time the people of Pavia attempt to claim its origin.

The first official definition of the term 'Panettone' dates back to 1606, where 'panaton' is mentioned in a Milanese-Italian dictionary as a large bread prepared for Christmas.

In the 18th century, Pietro Verri revived the ritual of baking at the Sforza court, a tradition that was also traced back to ancient pagan customs by Antonio Muratori, who traced it back to the early years after the year 1000.

At that time, Panettoni were flat, focaccia-like dishes, and yeast first appeared in an 1853 collection of recipes by Giovanni Felice Luraschi. The use of candied fruit was mentioned the following year in a treatise on confectionery written by Giovanni Vialardi, chef to the Savoy rulers, demonstrating the spread of Panettone throughout the northern region of Italy.

As for the origins of the term 'Panettone,' there are several accounts. Some suggest that the term derives from a large loaf (“panetto” in Italian) of butter in the shops, which was then divided among customers, while others point to the loaf of yeast that assumed considerable size during the preparation of the cake, large loaf = panettone. It's an Italian play on words.

During the 1800s, other legends emerged related to the name of Panettone or its hypothetical inventors. One such story tells of a cook of Duke Ludovico il Moro who burnt the Christmas dinner cake, and his apprentice, Toni, used a loaf of yeast kept for himself to create the 'pan del Toni,' which later became a tradition.

Another legend tells of Ughetto degli Atellani, a falconer of the Duke of Sforza who fell in love with the baker's daughter, Toni. In order to spend time with his beloved, Ughetto got himself hired as an apprentice by Toni. Later, to help the financially struggling baker, Ughetto invented a night cake, enriching the bread dough with ingredients such as sugar, butter, eggs, citron and sultanas. This special bread became famous, and sealed the love story between Toni's daughter and Ughetto. 

A third legend involves Sister Ughetta, a cook in an extremely humble convent. Sister Ughetta used a few ingredients to create a cake that would cheer up her sisters during Christmas. She added eggs, candied fruit, sultanas and sugar to the bread dough and, before putting it in the oven, she carved a cross on it, blessing it and everyone flocked to buy it, thus improving the fortunes of the convent.

The historical truth about the birth of Panettone is difficult to establish with certainty, but it is clear that the cake has ancient and deep roots in Milanese culture. Over the centuries, Panettone has become a symbol of Italian Christmas festivities. Its popularity has spread far beyond Italian borders, making it a classic Christmas cake in many parts of the world.

Today, Panettone comes in a variety of flavours, with fillings that include candied fruit, chocolate, cream and even savoury versions. Each region of Italy has its own variations and traditions related to this delicious cake. 

Panettone is often shared within the family during the Christmas season and given as gifts to relatives and friends. It is a symbol of sharing and celebration all over the world.

In my family, Panettone has always been a classic breakfast dessert on the 25th of December, and from then on it accompanies every moment of the festive season.


This history is taken from the book So Many Recipes to make with a panettone published by Selena Pellegrini, co founder and co owner of Egro'.
In the book you will find many recipes to make with your Panettone for example:

- Panettone French Toast
- Panettone Pudding
- Panettone Truffles
- Panettone Tiramisu
- Panettone Mousse
- Panettone Muffins
- The Savoury Panettone
- The Panettone Drinks
- Recipe for Making Homemade Panettone


You can find all the recipes here: 

Panettone ebook recipes Christmas

and in our shop in Angel !