Italian Christmas Cakes: Panettone and Struffoli
Being a dual nationality family means that Christmas traditions get mixed up. We have taken the bits we most enjoy of our Christmas and put them to together to give our daughter a fused tradition all of her own. Turkey is not so popular in the family so food seems to be Italian, also Enzo does the cooking and I am certainly not complaining. Fish is eaten on Christmas Eve and meat on Christmas day.
I have always loved a traditional English Rich fruit Cake with Almond paste and Royal icing. The harder the icing the better as far as I am concerned. Delia Smith always managed to guide me through the Christmas baking. When we lived in London I rather dismissed Panettone as lightweight with its golden sponge and sparse candied fruit and sultanas compared to our dark far heavier wintrier alternative. My arrival in Italy has changed my opinion. First I swear they are fresher here. I read today that the Pope gave panettone baked by prisoners in Padua as Christmas presents and this huge puffed up cushion of a cake is a perfect breakfast over the festive season. I am now going to risk the wrath from all purists by saying: I actually prefer industrial ones to those made by patisseries. Practically nobody bakes them at home as they require to be proofed 3 times over a twenty-hour period. You also need a large oven as they rise and rise. Different regions have different cakes but the entire peninsula eats Panettone, which originated in Milan.
I must confess that I have stopped making Christmas cake since my arrival partly because all the ingredients aren’t available here and so rather than adapt the recipe I have adopted local habits, besides, truth be told it is an excuse to be just plain lazy and what girl wouldn’t change her habits to eat wonderful Neapolitan goodies cooked by her man. Struffoli are the Neapolitan must for Christmas. These home - made deep fried dough balls coated in honey and flavoured with orange and lemon just melt in the mouth and my daughter loves helping her father to make them. For the recipe and method visit Enzo’s blog at http://lemonsandolives.blogspot.com/
They are also great with a sweet Prosecchino to toast the New Year so just it just remains for me to say: Salute
Auguri e Buon Anno