You see, panettone epitomizes the holiday season in my family. I’m pretty sure 95% of Americans have no idea what Panettone even is but for me, it’s Christmas and New Year’s morning, bounding down the stairs and being more excited to cut into the loaf of bread than open presents (yes, it’s that good).
I grew up in a very Italian American family. Sunday dinners of “macaroni & meatballs” were at grandma & grandpa’s for years during our childhood, Christmas Eve was celebrated with the 7 fishes (or close to it), my great-grandma called my brother “Adriano” instead of Adrian and bought us all underwear for Christmas, and panettone, which originated from the area of Milan close to where most of my mother’s side of the family comes from in Italy, was eaten Christmas morning for breakfast and usually again on New Year’s if we were lucky enough to have 2 loaves that year.
I can remember trying to describe panettone to my friends growing up and struggling to find the words to adequately convey the deliciousness this “bread” is. It’s sweet, it’s cakelike, it’s moist (when they’re fresh), it’s buttery. Honestly, it’s perfection in a bite. I’m sure the childhood memories that accompany the bread add a bit of bias to my opinion of it but, if you don’t like this stuff, you’re just not human.
Considering I’ve had many pieces of panettone in my lifetime already and know I love it, I wanted to do something different with this one. Something that highlighted the amazing sweetness and flavor to the bread but also honored the fall season we’re in right now. And that’s how this apple bread pudding was born.
It was like a trip down memory lane with each bite being simultaneously transported back to Christmas as a kid and picking apples in the fall. The sweetness of both the bread and the apples is incredibly warming both literally and figuratively. I’m sorry if this sounds cheesy and you’re sitting here reading this thinking “is she seriously waxing poetically about bread right now?” but yes, yes I am. Panettone has this nostalgic effect on me that makes me remember everything good about family & youth and any food that can do that deserves some love.
Panettone Apple Bread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s raisin-studded apple bread pudding
Yield: 8 servings
- 1 lb panettone bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 apple, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in warm water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- sliced almonds for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Toast bread cubes on baking sheet for 10-12 minutes, tossing once. Grease 9×13 baking dish generously. Combine bread cubes, chopped apples and raisins in large bowl. In a separate bowl beat eggs and sugar. Add in vanilla, spices and salt and beat until combined. In a small saucepan on low-medium heat combine milk, almond milk and molasses until just heated, not boiling. Slowly beat milk & molasses mixture into egg & sugar mixture. Pour bread cubes, apple, raisins into greased baking dish. Pour egg & milk mixture over top and coat bread cubes evenly. Top with sliced almonds if using and let sit for 5-10 minutes before baking in oven for approximately 35-40 minutes.
Have you ever tried panettone?
What food do you associate with the holidays?