Mark Perna - 2008-12-15
Of all the Christmas stars, very few can claim to be as enticing as pandoro. A gastronomic symbol of Verona, the pandoro has long been a favourite on Italian dining tables and, along with panettone, is the most popular and consumed cake during the Italian Christmas holidays. Tall, distinctive and with a star shaped base, pandoro has the look of a snowy peak with its traditional topping of powdered sugar.
A symbolic Christmas delicacy
Despite efforts to determine the origins of what is an almost symbolic Christmas delicacy, the history of this traditional Veronese cake remains clouded. The consensus seems to be that it dates back to the Habsburg Empire when pastry chefs in the royal household, influenced by a typical Viennese dessert known as "Vienna bread", are said to have created pandoro.
Alternative theories of the cake’s origins abound. One claim speculates that the cake first emerged back in 1260 when a "Nadalina" cake, featuring an eight-point star shaped base, was exclusively commissioned to celebrate the first Christmas that followed the Della Scala family’s election as Lords of Verona. Another theory is that pandoro was born in the Venetian Republic where, referred to as "pan de oro" and served with a thin layering of pure gold leaves, it was an established favourite among the aristocracy.
In all likelihood, the conflicting nature of these claims probably reveal that the cake is the result of numerous influences based upon Austrian expertise in the art of pastry making and Italian culinary creativity. What is certain is that the the first documented reference of Veronese cake that dates back to 1895, when Domenico Melegatti was granted three-year exclusivity for the commercial production of an exclusive sweet referred to as pandoro.
To this day, pandoro remains intrinsically associated with the Verona region and big names such as Bauli, Paluani, Melegatti and Dal Colle have ensured that pandoro’s excellence is now appreciated across the world.
Ingredients and preparation
If you have ambitions to write confectioners list of ingredients pandoro: 650 grams of flour, 250 grams of butter, 200g of sugar, 8 eggs, 30g of yeast, 1 cup of cream, grated lemon rind, pinch of vanilla essence and 50g of icing sugar. Be warned, the preparation process is quite lengthy….time is a key ingredient for a successful pandoro.
Knead together 4 tbsp flour, yeast, 1/2 tbsp sugar and 1 egg yolk, adding some warm water if necessary. Leave covered, in a warm draft-free place for a couple of hours or until the mixture doubles in size. Knead the risen dough with 2 cups flour, 1 oz. softened butter, 2 oz. sugar and 2 yolks. Knead for 15 mins then leave to rise for another two hours or until it has doubled in size again.
Place the remaining flour, 2 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp sugar, 2 yolks, the whole egg and the fermented dough on the pastry board. Knead again for 20 mins. Leave to rise for 2 hours for a third time. Take the dough again and knead in a pinch of vanilla, the grated lemon rind and 2 or 3 tsp cream. When the dough is mixed thoroughly, roll into a 12x8-in. rectangle. Cut the butter into chunks, let it soften and place in the center of the dough.
Fold the dough back onto itself from both directions to make 3 layers and roll it out again. Let the dough rest for half an hour, fold again and roll out two more times, letting the dough rest in a warm place in between. Butter and dust a deep mold with sugar, preferably a deep, star-shaped mold. Place the dough in the mold (it should only fill it halfway) and allow to rise until the dough reaches the upper rim of the pan. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 375°F. After 20 mins, reduce the temperature to 325°F and bake for another 20 mins.
Pasticceria addresses for sampling the delights of Pandoro
Pasticerria Rossini Giorgio
Piazza Vinco Libero, 34 - 37131 Verona
Tel: 045 525541
Corso Milano, 16/A - 37138 Verona
Tel: 045 574017
via Verdi, 31 - Castel D’Azzano (VR)
Tel: 045 8288375www.bauli.it
Apertura: dicembre tutti i giorni, anche di domenica. Orario continuato 9.00-19.00
Via dell'Artigianato, 18 - Dossobuono (VR)
Tel: 045 8614411www.paluani.it
Apertura: dal lunedì al venerdì 8.00-12.30 / 13.30-19.00, sabato 8.30-12.30 / 13.30-19.00, domenica solo nei periodi di festa 8.30-13.30 / 14.00-18.00
Via Monte Carega, 23 - S. Giovanni Lupatoto (VR)
Tel: 045 8951444 Fax 045 8951445www.melegatti.it
Apertura: dal lunedì al venerdì 8.30 – 12.30 / 13.30 -18.00, sabato 8.30 – 18.00
Via Strà, 13 - Colognola ai Colli ( VR)
Tel: 045 6134511
Apertura: dal lunedì al sabato 8.30 – 12.30 / 15.00 – 19.30, domenica nei periodi di festa.