SERVES 12 TO 16
4 cups 1-inch pieces panettone or other type sweet bread
3/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
10 dried Calamyrna figs, stemmed and cut into small pieces
4 cups milk
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
4 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
Whipped cream or vanilla gelato
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Butter a 9 1/4 by 13 1/2-inchoven-safe casserole dish.
Place the bread in a large bowl. Add the wine and toss until the bread is evenly moistened. Set aside
Put the figs into a small bowl and pour hot water over them; allow the figs to soak for 10 minutes, then drainand set aside.
Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, orange and lemon zests.
Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until light and fluffy looking. Whisk in the milk mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl with a hand-held mixer until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle on the sugar and fold into the whites. Fold the white mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the bread pieces and the figs.
Pour into the casserole dish. Place the casserole into a large pan like a roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches half way up the sides of the casserole dish.
Bake the budino until a knife blade inserted in the center is just slightly wet. This may take between 1 1/2 and 2 hours.
Remove the baking pan from the roasting pan and wipe the bottom with a towel.
Serve the budino warm with a garnish of whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla gelato.
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