Pandoro: Verona's Golden Christmas Cake

Pandoro or “golden bread” is of more recent origin than panettone but has many similarities. It is an even taller golden fluffy cake covered in powered sugar, slightly sweeter than panettone and without the raisins or dried citrus.

It originated in Verona in the 18th century, when the trend was to use lighter leavened dough, rather than more heavy pastes and nut-based dough, especially for cakes for the nobility.

Pandoro cake under Christmas TreeVerona's golden holiday cake, Pandoro, set under a Christmas tree. © Hemera/ThinkStock.

Pandoro grows out of a Venetian cake making tradition, mixing flour, eggs, sugar, and butter with leaven to create a lovely, light delicacy with towering peaks. Venice was the first place in Italy to begin using refined sugar rather then honey in its desserts, which helped make cakes rise and have a more airy consistency than previously. The result for pandoro, once dusted with confectioner’s sugar, is a tall cake reminiscent of a snowy mountain or an elongated shooting star.

Unlike other Italian Christmas cakes, pandoro is sometimes served at restaurants filled with delicious creams or sauces, such as a lemon mascarpone cream, melted dark chocolate or whipped cream. For those who are really indulgent, the top section can be hollowed out and stuffed with gelato, a creamy custard called zabaglione, or other delectable fillings. Sometimes today, pandoro is also coated in a thin layer of dark chocolate. There is a story that Mussolini ate pandoro as his last meal.


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