‘Tis the Season for Italian Christmas Cakes Panettone and Pandoro

italian christmas cake panettone

Italian Christmas cakes such as panettone are buttery cakes filled with candied fruit and raisins.

The two most popular Italian Christmas cakes are panettone and pandoro. These sweet cakes have some similarities, so they are often grouped together, but they have some essential differences. Read our guide below to learn which of the Italian Christmas cakes might be your favorite, and how to serve them to your family and friends this December. 

Panettone Christmas Cakes

Panettone hails from the northern city of Milan, and its name translates to “big loaf.” The Italian Christmas cake is a large, dome-shaped cake leavened with yeast. It has a light and airy texture, but a rich and buttery taste. It’s not too sweet, but it is filled with candied citrus fruits and raisins. The origins of the panettone can be traced back to a cured bread recipe made with yeast, honey, dried fruit, and pumpkin from 200 AD! At Giolitti Deli, we sell panettone by Flamigni, Albertengo, and Balocco, brands which produce consistently excellent products every time.

Pandoro Christmas Cakes

Pandoro is a baked specialty from Verona. The cake gets its name from its golden yellow color and is delicate and fluffy. The legend is that the cake’s origins go back to the Venetian Republic, where there was a cupola-shaped dessert dusted with gold leaf called “pan de oro” or “golden bread.” The bread we know now as pandoro is star-shaped with eight points and is dusted with powdered sugar to resemble the snowfall on Alpine peaks. You can also find pandoro Italian Christmas cakes with a variety of flavored fillings. 

How to Serve Your Italian Christmas Cakes

While panettone and pandoro taste delicious on their own, you can get creative by adding seasonal drinks or toppings to dress up your cakes and add some extra special flavors. 


The panettone cake you can cut vertically into wedges. Pair the cake slices with sweet, hot drinks or sweet wine. In some Italian regions, panettone is served with zabaione or crema di mascarpone made from cream, eggs, candied fruits, and a sweet amaretto. You can also fry leftover panettone in butter and serve it with poached fruit or ice cream!


Slice the cake to retain the star shape, then spread each slice with cream or mascarpone cream. You can then layer these slices into a tree shape dust with the classic powdered sugar and top with pomegranate seeds and blueberries to serve. 

Authentic Italian Cuisine From Giolitti Deli

Giolitti Deli is a full-service Delicatessen in Annapolis, MD, specializing in authentic Italian cuisine. Founded in 1992, we use the freshest ingredients to make time-honed recipes from scratch, with no MSG or preservatives. We believe in real food and offer many healthy options, including vegetarian and vegan menu items. At Giolitti Deli, we make our own sauces, mozzarella, grilled and roasted vegetables, bread, pizza dough, and desserts, and our sandwiches, salads, pasta, pizza, and entrees are made to order. Owner Mary Giolitti has combined her passion for great food and fine wine to offer Annapolis a true taste of Italy!

Team members who also make the business possible include Manager Kathy Hunter, Manager and Catering Director Cheryl Molesky, Head Baker Porfirio Diaz, Chef Alfredo Escobar, and Deli Manager Noe Merino. To contact us, please visit our contact page or give us a call at 410.266.8600. Also, be sure to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and our blog!

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