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Panettone

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Panettone is a typical bread of Milan, usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year around Italy, and one of the symbols of the city. Maltese nationals are also traditionally associated with this sweet bread. In Latin America, especially in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and Peru, it is a Christmas dinner staple.

Left: Panettone.

It has a cupola shape which extends from a cylindrical base and is usually about 12-15 cm high for a 1 kg panettone. Other bases may be used, such as an octagon. It is made during a long process which involves the curing of the dough, which is acidic, similar to sourdough. The proofing process alone takes several days, giving the cake its distinctive fluffy characteristics. It contains candied orange, citron and lemon zest, as well as raisins, which are added dry and not soaked. Manufacturers offer variations of panettone stuffed with chocolate chips, figs, almonds, cream or even lemon liqueur or limoncello.

It is served in slices, vertically cut, accompanied with sweet hot beverages or a sweet wine, such as Asti Spumante or Moscato d'Asti. In some regions of Italy, it is served with Crema di Mascarpone, a cream made from mascarpone cheese, eggs, sometimes dried or candied fruits, and typically a sweet liqueur such as Amaretto.

The origins of this cake appear to be ancient, dating back to the Roman Empire, when ancient Romans sweetened a type of leavened bread with honey.

The word "panettone" derives from the Italian word "panetto", a small loaf bread. The augmentative Italian suffix "-one" changes the meaning to "large bread".

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