Panettone: A Taste of Christmas in the Summer

By , Contributor

The time for powdered snow, dazzling lights, and sparkling presents nestled under a tree may seem a bit far away; however, for diehard Christmas lovers, the summer is the perfect time to celebrate. Late summer is the ideal opportunity to anticipate the holiday festivities. From a day of gift exchanges to patriotic Christmas cookies, one can find many creative ways to incorporate a little holiday magic into the summer season.

Although Christmas in July is solely an American invention, the winter holiday season is a serious celebration for Italians, full of numerous religious holidays celebrated throughout different regions before and after Christmas. Known as Natale, Italians prepare for Christmas with ornate nativity scenes called presepi, delicious feasts, and Babbo Natale (Father Christmas). Various regions have unique traditions to celebrate the holiday like Southern Italy’s Feast of the Seven Fishes, served on Christmas Eve.

Northern regions like Rome and Florence have wonderful Christmas markets bustling with food, ornaments, music, and magnificent Christmas trees. Rome’s Piazza Navona is one of Italy’s most famous Christmas Markets, full of merriment. Children get a chance to see Babbo Natale and sample Christmas treats, while adults can buy specially handcrafted ornaments and view one of the many breathtaking nativity scenes.

For a little taste of Christmas this summer, replace your normal coffee cake with a slice of panettone, a delicious accompaniment to your morning coffee. Said to have originated in Milan, panettone is a wonderfully festive bread with a lovely texture, popular around Christmas time. Made with candied fruit, cream, eggs, sugar, flour, milk, butter, and the zest of lemons and oranges, one slice looks like the contents of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree with colorful lights and ornaments. Typically made in a dome shape, this lighter style bread is a true holiday gem.

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Celebrity chef and award-winning author Maria Liberati is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian cuisine and culture in the United States. Winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for her best-selling recipe novel series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and her blog. Maria divides her…

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