Deck the Halls with Pandoro: A Christmas Tree Cake In 10 Minutes!

Pandoro Christmas Tree

A Pandoro Christmas Tree is an enchanting cake that is perfect to serve for Christmas lunch or dinner. This stunning Christmas cake requires just 3 ingredients and 10 minutes to put together and yet will impress anyone you serve this to from kids to adults. Serve it for breakfast, afternoon tea or dessert. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!

Pandoro Christmas Tree

Pandoro (meaning "golden bread") is an Italian Christmas bread from Verona that is enriched with butter, eggs and sugar similar to brioche and was traditionally served to the nobility and upper class. Panettone is a similar enriched bread served at Christmas from Lombardia. Some say that children prefer Pandoro while adults prefer Panettone. I've had wonderful pannettone and pandoro and honestly it's worth seeking out good versions of each, particularly panettone (I tend to avoid the ones at the supermarket). I find that sometimes if you don't get a good one, you'll wonder why people go so crazy over stale fruit bread. But once you've tried a good one of each then you'll get it.

Pandoro Christmas Tree

Monica told me how the most classic Pandoro is by a brand called Bauli. She told me how the Bauli family house even has statues of Pandoros in place of gargoyles (a real case of the house that Pandoro built). "Pandoro is considered a little bit more chichi, most people that like Pandoro better like it because they do not like candied fruit. It's kind of like a bit of war like everything else because we like to make everything into a war in Italy. Milano make panettone and Verona make Pandoro so there's a geographical component as well," explained Monica.

Pandoro are shaped like a star shaped bell and come in full size or mini sizes in a variety of flavours with a packet of vanilla icing sugar. You open up the bag, empty the icing sugar into the bag, close it up and then shake which distributes the icing sugar all over the bread - the result is said to resemble the Italian Alps during Christmas time.

When I went to buy a Pandoro one year (to make a gelato filled pandoro, also definitely worth trying!) they suggested that I try making one but I was on a different path so I saved it for later. A lot of pandoro trees have mascarpone and other fillings while I wanted a more shelf stable but no less delicious one that could sit on the table without needing refrigeration as it is so hot here during Christmas.

Pandoro Christmas Tree

Enter pistachio paste, that deliciously sweet version of Nutella made using pistachios instead of hazelnuts. I literally had half a jar left so 300grams/10.6ozs in total. Other people use redcurrants to simulate baubles on the Christmas tree. With no fight left in me being so close to Christmas I didn't want to have to track down redcurrants (a battle I remember from previous years without any measure of fondness). So when I saw some perfect specimens of raspberries at a steal I purchased two punnets.

This pandoro Christmas tree was done before I even knew it. I had put aside an hour to make and shoot this because it's always better to have more time than less. I ended up finishing this so early that I didn't want to wait 50 minutes for Mr NQN to get off the phone so that he could help me with pictures. Usually I steal him for 2 minutes so that he can shake some icing sugar or I can use his hands in a photo while I take the photo. Who else could I ask? Milo and Teddy although willing, are completely unsuitable for the task and the only other person around was Peter who was installing our new floors. I waited a few minutes until he appeared in the doorway then asked if he could be my hand model.

"This is my big break!" he said smiling. He washed his hands and grabbed the icing sugar sifter and sifted away. But given he is used to working with much bigger tools, there was an avalanche of icing sugar rather than a light sprinkling. But somehow I think that really works to give it a more Christmassy vibe don't you think?

So tell me Dear Reader, do you like pandoro or panettone? Are you ready for Christmas?

Pandoro Christmas Tree

Pandoro Christmas Tree

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 0 minutes

  • 700g/1.5lb Pandoro
  • 300g/10.6ozs pistachio paste
  • 150g/5ozs fresh raspberries

Buyer's note: Italian delis will have Pandoro and pistachio paste. I have also found large 600g/1.3lb jars of pistachio paste at Costco.

Pandoro Christmas Tree

Step 1 - Open the Pandoro bag and add the icing sugar provided. Close the top of the bag and then shake gently to distribute the icing sugar all over the Pandoro. Slice across the base and then slice the rest into four even slices.

Pandoro Christmas Tree

Step 2 - Place the base on a serving plate. Stir the pistachio paste very well so that it isn't lumpy. Spread a generous amount across the base. Place the next size layer on top but at an angle so that the points do not line up with the bottom layer. Repeat with pistachio paste alternating the placement of the pandoro. Leave a little pistachio paste so fill in the outlying star points which is where you will place the raspberries. Place the raspberries on the star points and add some extra icing sugar on top. I also added some gold leaf which you can do if you're feeling fancy! I love serving this with gelato (pistachio or your favourite flavour).

Pandoro Christmas Tree

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