20081202panettonejpg"[A] joyless mass of dry cake polluted with the unpleasant bits of dried fruit that even your Nan wouldn't eat, dusted with a cloying layer of elderly icing sugar and wrapped in a box with a ribbon."

That's how Guardian blogger Tim Hayward describes panettone, which he goes on to call "an elaborate Italian joke." The big, red, bell-shaped box is fast becoming the Christmas gift (and re-gift) of choice, and, like its predecessor, the fruitcake, is considered something of a burden to the recipient.

Well, fruitcake has always had its defenders (how else has it continued to make the rounds?), so I'll be panettone's. Unlike fruitcake, panettone is a tender brioche that can be baked into bread pudding or fried into a gorgeous French toast. Unlike fruitcake, panettone has not yet become a euphemism for the insane. I know which I'd rather find in my stocking.

Panettone: Yea or nay?


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