Pandolce and Holiday Wishes


Reason number two hundred and forty-seven to be friends with your next-door neighbors: they cook, and they share.

When Stéphan (one door to the right) prepares scampi in coconut milk, he will prepare a plate for you and hand it over through your respective kitchen windows, a.k.a. the service hatch. In return you will send two flutes of rosé champagne their way, because you just happened to be celebrating something.

And when Peter (one door to the left) takes a trip back to his native Italy to celebrate Christmas with his family, he will ring your doorbell just before leaving, to return the ice-pack his girlfriend Ligiana had borrowed for her sprained ankle, and to give you a freshly baked loaf of pandolce, still a little warm, golden and crusty.

Pandolce, also called pan di Natale, is a typical Christmas confection from Genoa. Although references I’ve found describe it as a sweet yeast bread, just a bit denser than panettone, Peter’s version is more cakey than yeasty, a texture reminiscent of biscotti, but moister. Chock-full of plump raisins and crunchy pinenuts, it is aromatic and elegantly sweet, the perfect companion to a cup of coffee.

When Peter returns I will ask for a recipe and permission to share it with you, but I’ve read that it is a jealously guarded secret in most families — I’ll do my persuasive best.

In the meantime, let me wish you a Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and a Happy Holiday-of-Your-Choice if you celebrate something else! In all cases, I hope you eat well in great company, and that you get more than your share of cool gifts and good memories.

  • nigaishin

    … well, wow!
    With everybody around the food-blogging ‘Net making panettone, this rather surprised me.
    You managed to describe its texture perfectly, too. :D
    There actually are two main types of pandolce, both originary from Genoa. One is lumpier, like the one Peter baked, and the other one is somewhere inbetween that and your ordinary panettone, higher and softer.
    Plus, there are also richer versions, with chopped candied fruits and almonds (like my grandmother’s), or fennel seeds, pistachios, candied pumpkin, etc.
    I guess every little nuance depends on the family recipe.
    Although I’m not too fond of it, I usually make them on Dec.8th to give away for Christmas.
    If you want, we can compare recipes ;)

  • Merry Xmas for you too !

  • nigaishin

    (doh! go me!)

    So taken with the pandolce thing as I was, I totally forgot to wish you a Merry Christmas!
    Have fun!

  • Shannon

    You are living such a cool life. It’s so “Friends”/80’s Woody Allen.

  • Deanna

    Joyeux Noel !
    Thank you for sharing all of your life stories with us. I really look forward to what you have to say in 2006 !
    Take care, Deanna

  • Looks wonderful. My grandmother used to make a very similar one but with almonds instead of pine nuts. You have fantastic neighbors! Joyeux Noel!

  • Joyeux Noël !

  • Andrea

    Joyeux Noel et Bonne Anne to you and Maxence. I look forward to spending 2006 reading about your adventures. Hope you make it back to NY!


  • Jerry

    How cool to live beside friendly neighbours! Your stories make me want to return to Europe soon!

    Joyeux Noel! and all the best in 2006!

  • Hmm. All I get from my closest neighbor is complaints when we shower too early or too late as her bedroom wall lies along our bathroom.
    In any case, Merry Christmas Linda

  • Clotilde, Joyeux Noel et Bonne Anne. Valentina

  • Merry, Merry Christmas from Down Under. Thanks so much for sharing so much with us all

    Much love….

  • NubianVixen

    Happy Holidays to Clotilde! Happy Holidays to Everyone!!

  • Hi Clotilde, I remember my first bite of pandolce as something more of cake than bread, too, although I can’t quite remember if that was from Genoa.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, too, hope you guys are all having a wonderful weekend!

  • chamasky

    Greeting from Portland Oregon…I love your blog! Ever since I found you I am so enchanged & inspired. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful holiday! I look very very much forward to reading more of your stories & recipes in the coming year!

  • Je voulais simplement te souhaiter un noel plein de joie et un nouvel an de succes, d’amour et de delices!


  • Michele

    Hi, I am from Genoa and I am really happy of your interest in Pandolce, which of course I love…
    So, here is the recipe!

    1.250 Kg. of flour 00
    500 gr. of butter
    500 gr. of sugar
    5 egg yolks
    2 and 1/2 small bags of yeast for cakes
    600 gr. mix of raisins, pine nuts, chopped candy fruits
    1 spoon of anise seeds
    1 glass of maraschino (but probably any other sweet, sherry-like liquor will do as well!)
    1 pinch of salt

    Knead quickly flour and sugar, yolks, butter (at room temperature) and sifted yeast. Add the other ingredients, softening the dough with the liquor. Bake at 170°C for 50-60 minutes. Enjoy!

  • I’m in the same situation as Linda… I have no neighbors in the house on the left and the ones on the right are never there, and neither of the families like dogs of which we have two (one of them beats their own and has him tied up)…

    But that doesn’t stop me from turning the kitchen and living room into a bakery shop with cake stands, cake knives, cake plates, piles and bowls of cupcakes and trays of cookies everywhere during the holidays and packaging up gift boxes with an assortment of sweets in different papers, with christmas tissue paper lining to give to the rest of the civil world!! If I were in Paris, I’d carry one right over to you guys!

    Unfortunately, pandolce isn’t high on my list! Once you live in Italy for a while, certain things get real old real quick…and some things never take off…

    Best Holiday wishes to you C and all of your loyal readers!


  • may

    happy hols to you and everyone!

  • pink tomato

    Dear Clotilde…I cannot thank you enough ..thanks to your wonderful Chocalate and Zucchini…I am now the very proud owner of my very own La Cocotte! is just glorious..oval and black with a very gorgeous shiny brass knob!..I just adored your article on your birthday.. and the arrival in bubble wrap in your parents car of your La Cocotte. Being in Adelaide..( Very Central South on the coast In Australia } I knew my chances were going to be slim to find one…I drooled over
    the web site and started some serious investigation and then Christmas took hold…I had sent your article to my husband…not hinting at all…I promise!!
    anyway you guessed it a huge parcel to unwrap..and there it was!
    Yes he had found is just didn’t tell us about the little tag attached to the handle saying in French and English..”I built this vessel for you” is going to be framed! I cannot wait to use it..the only problem being that we are without a kitchen while a little one burner hotplate will have to suffice! Hope you had a special Christmas and very Happy New…thank you again..I await your pages with a happy heart in 2006..and continue to smile when reading articles on yoghurt cakes sticking to tins because of impatient cooks and so much more that I entirely relate to..until then caio from Mandy XX

  • Joan

    “Happy Holiday-of-Your-Choice” ~ such a joyous and aware and Clotildeish turn of phrase…we are indeed all the richer in spirit because of you dear writer from Paris…all the richer…merci merci merci

  • pink tomato

    Hi again…just the excited new La Cocotte owner again…Clotilde have you by any chance seen a beautiful cookbook called “Falling Cloudberries” by Tessa Kiros…the title alone is enough to want it immediately I know.. but the inside is really wonderful as well and the pro’s just gorgeous…you will love it!
    X Mandy…a girl can never have too many cookbooks!

  • pink tomato

    sorry prose!!!!! to hasty in blogging!

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