Panettone Bread & Butter Pudding
The holiday season is approaching and I have a suggestion for those who summon the courage to try their hand(s) at homemade panettone but, as is so often the case for panettone newbies (e.g. myself, last year), fail to achieve the sublime lightness of Michael Wilson's or Iginio Massari's or Tre Marie (the Milanase gold standard that our zia sends us every year). Panettone is about as challenging to make successfully as a naturally leavened bread can be.
My suggestion is not to fret about how your homemade panettone looks and feels as though it may have chosen "Fruitcake" at the fork in the road to crumb structure: Make Bread and Butter Pudding out of it! We stumbled on this recipe earlier this year, when we still had a couple of store-bought panettones in the pantry that we never got around to giving away (we have been known to get carried away buying them at holiday time). So we made bread and butter pudding out of them. Google it and you'll find plenty of other recipes. But I can vouch for the one linked above from Il Globo (an online mag for Italian expats living down under).
WOW was it good. Astonishingly fabulous actually. We followed the linked recipe, but with the following changes: We did not butter the panettone slices before layering them in the dish. That just seemed suicidally indulgent. I mean, really, it's panettone, not leftover bread. Up to you but it was terrific without the extra butter. We cut back the sugar by 1/3. Still great. And we used half-and-half, not cream. Still great. We did use the Madeira and dark rum as specified and highly recommend them.
A dish of Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding microwaved for one minute mounts a molto stiff challenge to the choicest chocolate or Grand Marnier souffle. A superb consolation prize if your homemade panettone misses the oven spring bus.
Buono apetito! And raise a glass of Asti to Antonio Carluccio. The world lost a dearly beloved Greedy Italian last week.