In Italy, the arrival of panettone in the stores means the holidays are near. This sweet, rich bread filled with raisins and candied orange originated in Milan and spread throughout Italy (and the world) in the 20th century. There are plenty of imported commercial panettone out there, but there’s nothing like a fresh artisanal version of the famous Italian bread. We offer ours exclusively in December, with our final bake on Christmas Eve. It is incredible on its own – especially when served with a glass of Prosecco or a dollop of mascarpone – but it also makes delicious French toast. For such an elegant holiday brunch item, this recipe is easy to prepare and won’t take you more than 30 minutes to pull together.
2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and destemmed
1 cup water
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons orange zest, divided
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 Macrina Panettone
1-1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 300°F.
In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, water, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Bring to a simmer and cook until cranberries release their juice and the sauce starts to thicken; about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the remaining tablespoon of orange zest. Set aside.
Remove the paper mold from the panettone. Slicing top to bottom, cut four slices that are each about 1-1/2″ thick. Then cut each slice in half diagonally. Make a slit midway on the diagonally cut side of each piece and gently spoon a dollop of sweetened ricotta into each pouch. Set aside.
To make the custard, combine the eggs, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, brown sugar and orange juice in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.
In another medium bowl, combine the remaining cup of whipping cream, 1/4 cup of sugar and teaspoon of vanilla. Whip until the cream retains soft peaks. Refrigerate until needed.
Dip panettone slices in the custard to coat both sides. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to rest.
Place a medium sauté pan or pancake griddle over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter. Once the butter is sizzling, add as many half slices as will fit. Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip when underside is a deep golden brown. As the pieces finish, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Add more butter to your pan as needed. When you’ve sautéed all the slices, place them in the oven for 3-5 minutes to ensure you’ve cooked them all the way through.
Place 2 halves of French toast on each plate and top with a generous spoonful of cranberry compote and sweetened whipped cream. With the sweetness of the bread, compote and cream, maple syrup isn’t necessary, but indulge if it is calling you!