Personally I can’t stand Christmas cake; its heavy, often dry and just so dull. Instead, when it comes to Christmas and, indeed, Easter cakes, I prefer the infinitely more palatable, flavoured, and lighter Italian panettone. These days supermarkets and delis are packed to the rafters with them come Christmas and Easter, and they come in all ranges of size and flavour – you can even get them filled with a vibrant green pistachio cream. My favourite are those filled with vanilla or lemon custard and topped with chocolate, but the traditional versions are just filled with currents and other fried fruits. The problem with panettones can be that they go dry after initially being cut, but a perfect use for any panettone, especially if its going dry, is for a festive bread pudding.
Enough 1cm thick slices of panettone to fill the ovenproof dish you’re cooking the pudding in.
300ml double cream
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
Juice of ½ an orange
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
Large glass of Vino Santo
2 table spoons of caster sugar
2 table spoons of brown sugar
- Heat the oven to 160°C
- In a large bowl add the milk, cream, zest, orange juice, eggs, vanilla seeds, caster sugar and Vino Santo, and whisk till the ingredients are all well combined together.
- Layer the panettone slices, overlapping slightly, in your chosen ovenproof dish. Pour the milk and cream mixture evenly over the panettone and then sprinkle over the brown sugar.
- Place your filled dish in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes, until the panettone has puffed up and the sugar topping has partially melted. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave it to cool for 10 minutes. Then serve with double cream and a glass of the Vino Santo.