Golden Bread for Your Holiday Table

December 3, 2021

All of a sudden, beautifully wrapped boxes of panettone, that classic sweet Christmas bread from Italy are everywhere and they make great gifts. A lesser known but equally delicious bread is pandoro, a signature of the elegant city of Verona; it is identified by its eight-pointed star shape. Like panettone, it is available worldwide but is very rarely made at home anymore because the process is a lengthy one, with three risings that take place over 38 hours! 

Pandoro means golden bread, and the origins of this light-textured, golden- yellow confection are murky at best. Some say it was originally made by Viennese pastry chefs for the royal family of Austria. Venetians will argue that it was made for the wealthy of the city during the Renaissance and that they enjoyed it covered in tissue paper-thin gold leaf made from gold coins! The main origin of the story claims that the Veronese were the first to make this delicacy, calling it nadalin in their dialect. Whatever the provenance, pandoro requires several long risings of a yeasted dough to achieve its brioche-like texture.

Large confection companies like Bauli make a quick version of pandoro called pandorato. That version of the Veronese classic doesn’t begin with a yeast starter but with an eggy batter lightened with baking powder and stiffly beaten egg whites. Of course, the shape of the bread is part of its charm and one does need the right bread pan, an eight-pointed star mold available in kitchen stores and on line. So, if you want to add a bit of Italian glamour to your holiday table, surprise everyone with pandorato.

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