Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Pandoro symbolizes Christmas in Italy like few other desserts (except for its sister cake, panettone, from Milan). It even looks like a Christmas tree—a towering, star-shaped cake topped with pastry cream, fresh berries and snow-white powdered sugar. It originates from the northern Italian town of Verona, the romantic city made famous by Romeo and Juliet.
Like panettone, pandoro (meaning literally, "golden bread") has a light, fluffy, yeast-risen golden interior and a brown outer surface. However, unlike panettone, it does not contain candied fruit or raisins, which makes it the preferred Christmas cake of many.
These days, commercial versions often contain some sort of filling, such as limoncello or chocolate cream. Most Italians prefer to buy commercially produced pandoro from their local baker or supermarket as it is a difficult and time-consuming to make, requiring four separate lengthy risings and three resting periods after being rolled out. If you are an accomplished and devoted baker, however, making it at home can be quite rewarding.
Last Christmas our Italian 2 students spent their class in the culinary art's kitchen. preparing the most delicious pastry cream, assembled and decorated their own Panadoro Christmas cakes.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch of kosher salt
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups mascarpone cheese