If you are Italian, you have panettone running through your blood. If not, then there is no doubt you haven't run into this fruity sweet bread around Christmas time just about everywhere and anywhere. This panettone bread pudding is a great way to turn your leftovers into a delicious dessert.
Confession: I used to hate panettone. I find them to be dry. I remember seeing them at my Nonno and Nonna's house for months on end. "They never go bad" I was told. Once you get past that they can survive a zombie apocalypse, then you can begin to see its endless possibilities.
Enter this panettone bread pudding. The great thing about using panettone in bread pudding is that it already has so much flavor from the dried fruits, all you need to do is add the custard. I added fresh orange zest and orange liqueur to bring out the flavors of the candied fruit. I make this every New Year and everyone devours it. If you have any panettone haters, try converting them with this decadent dessert. While I love it as a dessert, my family tends to enjoy it for breakfast as well.
What is panettone?
Panettone is an Italian yeast-leavened bread. The traditional panettones are studded with raisins, candied fruit, almonds, and liqueur. However, all fancy flavors have popped up in retail stores. These include chocolate, lemon, and even tiramisu. Its tall dome shape is most recognizable and is usually adorned in beautiful wrapping. You can find panettone in specialty Italian stores, but these days around Christmas- anyone who is anyone is selling them (TJ Maxx, Target, even pharmacies!). By itself, it makes a great breakfast bread alongside a morning coffee or tea. In addition, panettone makes a great french toast.
What you will need for this panettone bread pudding:
- Panettone: Stick to the traditional types for this. Look for ones without chocolate or additives. You will need one pound. If you can only find 2 lbs, then use half or make a double batch. Leftover panettone can be enjoyed toasted for breakfast or used to make french toast. Letting it go stale, or alternately toasting it in the oven for a few minutes will harden it up. This helps the bread absorb the custard without getting too mushy.
- Whole milk and heavy cream: You can also use whole half and half. I would stick to the full-fat versions, as this will add to the richness of the bread pudding. Calories are not worth counting here!
- Eggs: You will need 5 large eggs. They don't need to be room temperature.
- Sugar: White granulated sugar.
- Orange zest: This helps bring out the candied fruits in the panettone.
- Orange liqueur: This is optional. I always have Grand Marnier on hand-an orange-flavored cognac. This works well with the brandy flavor usually found in panettones.
- Sliced almonds: Totally optional. Sometimes I like a bit of crunch on the bread pudding, so these add some texture. Most of the time I omit. If you want to make it look fancy for guests then the almonds add a nice touch.
Panettone Bread Pudding
- 1 lb. panettone, cut into 1 inch cubes crusts on, no need to trim
- 8 large eggs
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 1½ teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tsp orange liqueur optional
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds optional
- In a baking pan or tray, lay the sliced panettone in a single layer, and let it get stale (at least 6 hours or up to overnight). If you are short on time, you can easily skip this step.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 13x9 baking pan on the bottom and up the sides.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar. Add the milk, cream, orange zest and orange liqueur if using. Whisk until well blended.
- Place the panettone in the buttered pan. Add the egg mixture. Gently press down on the bread cubes to submerge. Let stand for about 20 minutes.
- Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and middle is set. (It will puff up a bit and then deflate once it starts to cool). Serve warm, cold or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream. It can also be eaten for breakfast!