Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bread of Toni?

This year I incorporated a little Italian culture into my Christmas traditions.  I had my first taste of panetone, its similar to the American fruit cake, only this is edible.  The bread is taller than it is wide, in a cylindrical sort of shape.  It resembles a chef's hat that mushrooms at the top.  Inside the sweet and fluffy bread are various kinds of dried fruits and nuts.

As the holiday season begins to come around you start to see all the classic signs that the holidays have arrived.  The streets draped in lights, the stores windows are decorated with Christmas decorations, and panetone can be found in every Italian shop around.  I originally read about this through some blog and I thought it sounded like a fun addition to the usual holiday traditions.  The writer went on an on about how delicious this was and how it makes such a great french toast, plus every person we see at the grocery store had at least one in their chart.

I had to give it a try, so we bought a little one from the 99 euro cent store on our way home one day, and set it under our home made paper tree for Christmas morning.  Finally, it was Christmas and time to open this little treat up.  We had the panetone with coffee while we prepared the rest of our Christmas brunch.  It was actually really good.  I had been a little skeptical, Rachael had tried some a long time ago and didn't recall that interaction with many fond memories.  It was fluffy and only slightly sweet with a hint of citrus.  It was a great accompaniment to coffee.  I can't wait to get another and try it as a french toast.

There are several stories I've heard about where panetone came from, the one I like the most is about a guy named Toni.  Now, Toni was in love with a nobleman's daughter, but the father apparently didn't approve of the two of them getting married.  Unwilling to give up on the love of his life, decided to win the father's approval by baking (I guess the way to a man's heart really is through his stomach?!)  The father was so impressed by this delicious bread that Toni had made that he allowed him to marry his daughter.  The bread was then named "pane di Toni" which as you probably guessed is the Italian way to say "the bread of Toni."  Other than that all I know is that is particularly popular in Milan.

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