Ever since the Middle Ages the locals in Lombardy liked to celebrate Christmas with larger, richer, more lavish breads made with premium wheat not typically eaten every day.
Hence in Italian: bread= pane, large bread= panettone
By law, an authentic panettone must contain 20 percent of its weight in fruit and 16 percent in butter.
After baking, they are cooled upside down
The dough is very rich, but also very airy, it tends to collapse and deflate as soon as it cools. For this reason, traditional panettone is skewered with a special rack right when it comes out of the oven, and immediately hung upside down for 8 hours to cool and rest
The Story of Panettone
Truth is, the history of panettone is unknown, and which myth you hear depends on whose Italian grandmother you ask.
Once upon a time, there was a noble Milanese falcon trainer named Ughetto, who fell in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of the town baker. It pained Ughetto to see her working so hard at the struggling bakery, so he posed as a peasant and offered to work there for free so she didn’t have to. He got the idea to boost business at the bakery by enriching its breads with butter and sugar and eggs—luxuries in 15th-century Milan, even for a nobleman. So Ughetto sold some of his birds to buy the ingredients, blended them into a cake-like bread studded with raisins and candied citrus, he saved the bakery, and took Adalgisa’s hand in marriage.
Except… ‘ughett’ means ‘raisin’ in the Milanese dialect, which is just a little too convenient, isn’t it?
Its origin goes back to 1495. During the luxurious Christmas banquet given by the Duke of Milan, the dessert got burnt. A young cook, named Toni, came up with a rich brioche bread, filled with raisins and candied fruit. The Duke loved it, and so the tradition of 'Pane di Toni' was born.