Panettone and Pandoro: Classic Italian Christmas Cakes

Learn about the classic Italian Christmas cakes panettone and pandoro.

Learn about the classic Italian Christmas cakes panettone and pandoro.

Italy has a variety of Christmas cakes, but Pandoro and Panettone are the most popular around the world. Unlike other cakes, they can be baked in industrial quantities and will stay fresh for long periods of time to be distributed internationally. In Italy, no Christmas meal is complete without panettone or pandoro- but many homes serve both! Continue reading to learn more about the classic Italian Christmas cakes, and stop by Giolitti Deli for all your holiday favorites!


Pandoro originated in Verona and is a light, airy cake. It is made with a lot of butter, and as its name suggests (pan d’oro means ‘golden bread’), the cake is bright yellow. It is baked in an 8-pointed star shaped pan and is typically only dusted with powdered sugar. However, you can also find the cake with a variety of flavored fillings.


A traditional, quality panettone requires three key steps. The Mother’s yeast, or the strain of yeast which has been favored for years and is renewed each day, must be of the highest quality. Panettone also needs quality raw materials, including flour, sugar, eggs, butter, candied fruit, and raisins. Lastly, making the cake requires years of knowledge and expertise. At Giolitti Deli, we sell Albertengo and Balocco panettone, who produce consistently excellent products every time!

Why Serve Both?

As mentioned above, many Italian Christmas meals include both panettone and pandoro. Why do some families serve both cakes? It can be a real dilemma in many Italian families, as there is often a split between panettone fans and pandoro lovers. Kids tend to prefer pandoro, and others may find it to be too simple and buttery. Adults typically prefer panettone, but some dislike raisins and candied fruits in their dessert. For these reasons, it’s the best option to serve both cakes, so everyone has a dessert that they enjoy!

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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