I'm a fan of Panettone...
WELL, here we are, the final furlong. I hope you're all well prepared for the next few days, and you can take some time to relax and unwind after what's been a funny old year.
This is the final Christmas-themed recipe for you, and it's a handy one to have in the old notebook as it makes use of one of those gifts that only ever seem to be given at this time of year.
The panettone is a uniquely seasonal cake, originating in Milan in Italy sometime in the early 20th Century, along with its fruit-free cousin, the pandoro.
It's a rich, buttery brioche-style cake, proved over a very long period of time like sourdough, which lends it an unmistakably light but enjoyably chewy texture, and is baked gently to produce a beautiful hazelnuthued crust.
Most recipes insist upon a threetime prove lasting up to 20 hours for the perfect results - it's unlikely we'll see this as one of Paul's signature bakes on Bake-Off anytime soon!
There are as many recipes as there are peaks in the Dolomites, but the general recipe includes confit citrus peel, candied angelica and raisins.
It's lovely just sliced with a hot cup of coffee or tea, but I enjoy it toasted and buttered too, and it was whilst spreading butter on a slice in January this year that I happened upon today's recipe.
Many of us are given a panettone for Christmas and we don't quite know what to do with it.
Often, they sit in their beautiful pained boxes or tins until they're thrown out or re-gifted.
This is criminal; even if you don't particularly like simple tea-breads like these, you do have in your hands the basic ingredient for a really wonderful dessert, and one which can be whisked into life in minutes.
We're making a festive version of a classic bread and butter pudding today, and one that would grace any dinner party.
Baked gently in individual ramekins or pots, and served with a rich sauce made of spiced clementines, this will make a party end on a high note, or just make a post-Christmas supper a wee bit more special.
If you want, you can serve the puddings with a scoop of ice-cream or just some chilled pouring cream, and these puds are versatile enough to be made one day and gently reheated the next, which can save a lot of fuss and bother on the day.
It's full of all those warm wintery spices, that lovely buttery bread sitting in a smooth creamy set custard. Absolutely wonderful.
Do give it a go, especially if you're gifted a panettone this Christmas, and haven't much of a clue what to do with it. And, as this is my last despatch before the big day, may I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.
May your turkey be moist, your pudding flambe perfectly, and your sprouts remain, ahem, trouble-free (the trick is to par-boil them and then change the water).
I'll be back next week with some tempting New Years' canapes to help the party sparkle.