What is the name of the cake traditionally eaten in Italy at Christmas?
Panettone is an Italian type of sweet bread originally from Milan, usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year in Western, Southern, and Southeastern Europe as well as in Latin America, Eritrea, Australia, the United States and Canada.
It has a cupola shape, which extends from a cylindrical base and is usually about 12–15 cm high for a panettone weighing 1 kg. Other bases may be used, such as an octagon, or a frustum with a star section shape more common to pandoro. It is made during a long process that involves curing the dough, which is acidic, similar to sourdough. The proofing process alone takes several days, giving the cake its distinctive fluffy characteristics.
It contains candied orange, citron, and lemon zest, as well as raisins, which are added dry and not soaked. Many other variations are available such as plain or with chocolate. It is served in wedge shapes, vertically cut, accompanied with sweet hot beverages or a sweet wine, such as Asti or Moscato d'Asti. In some regions of Italy, it is served with crema di mascarpone, a cream made from mascarpone, eggs, sometimes dried or candied fruits, and typically a sweet liqueur such as amaretto; if mascarpone cheese is unavailable, zabaione is sometimes used as a substitute.