Panettone French Toast

Panettone {Pan e toni} (meaning large bread) is an Italian sweet bread, studded with dried fruit that has been soaked in liquor, commonly associated with Christmas. Historians are unclear as to the exact history of Panettone; however, it is said to have originated during the 15th-century in Milan Italy, when the ancient Romans used honey to sweeten breads. Writings dating from the 18th-century associate the bread with Christmas; yet, it was not until the early 20th-century that panettone became a widely shared Christmas tradition. Today Panettone is shipped all across the world and not only at Christmas time but Easter too.

There are just as many legends as there are versions of the bread. The first story tells of a young noble man, Toni, and his love for the baker’s daughter. To win the heart of his true love he disguised himself as apprentice to her father. One day he made a special domed bread that impressed the baker and the daughter so much that the baker sanctioned his daughter’s hand in marriage.

The second tale occurs one Christmas Eve at a lavish banquet held at the court of Ludovico Sforza. The cook accidently burnt the dessert. A kitchen hand, named Toni, saved the evening by making a sweet bread using the remains of the burnt cake and adding dried fruit, spices, eggs and sugar.

How ever Panettone came to be this rich buttery sweet sensation is a world wide Holiday favorite. Panettone is often toasted and served alongside coffee. You will also find recipes for Panettone stuffing and bread pudding in addition to this version of Panettone french toast. Panettone is not a fruit cake although it does contain dried fruit. Freshly made is always preferred over store bought but if it is not available at the local bakery try finding the brands by Bauli or Flamigni.

Source: Williams Sonoma
1/2 Panettone, about 1 pound
3 eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup milk
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tbsp Cointreau (optional)
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Softened unsalted butter for brushing
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Warm Maple syrup for serving

Slice off the end pieces and discard. Cut panettone into 5 or 6 vertical slices then slice pieces in half.

In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, orange zest, orange juice, Cointreau, granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into a large shallow bowl; add bread slices. Soak, turning once, 10 seconds per side.

Heat griddle on medium heat; brush with butter. When the butter foams, add a few bread slices. Cook, turning once, untl lightly browned, 3-5 minutes per side. Turn slices over again; cook a few minutes more per side. Transfer French toast to serving plates. Place in oven; turn oven to 200 degrees. Cook remaining slices.

To serve dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve with maple syrup.

Serves 4 or 5.

Keep any left overs refrigerated. Reheat in the oven, spread with butter and eat with a cup of hot chocolate. Mmmmmm.