In Argentina, Pan Dulce is present at every Christmas party.
It’s a snack steeped in tradition, visible on every Christmas table, a symbol of the festive season.
What is Pan Dulce?
Pan Dulce, or Panettone, is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan, and is usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year in Italy, southeastern France, Brazil, Peru, Malta, Germany and Switzerland, and is one of the symbols of the city of Milan.
In South America, especially in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Chile, it is a Christmas dinner staple and in some places replaces roscón de reyes/bolo rei (King cake).
According to Wikipedia, Pan Dulce usually 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 star section shape more common to pandoro.
It is made during a long process that involves the curing of 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 slices, vertically cut, accompanied with sweet hot beverages or a sweet wine, such as Asti or Moscato d’Asti.
In some sense it is similar to the classic Christmas fruit cake, but it has lighter, fluffier characteristics similar to that of bread, hence its name “Pan Dulce”, which literally means “sweet bread”.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Pan Dulce in my three years here in Argentina, but the Pan Dulce made at Plaza Mayor, a traditional Spanish restaurant, is really the best so far I’ve ever tried in Buenos Aires, and possible Argentina.
Veronica, a friend who lives near a Plaza Mayor branch, told me that each year during the festive season, long queues snake around the block where the restaurant is located, as people line up under the hot sun to get their loaf (or two) of Pan Dulce. I’d laughed about it when Veronica told me about these ridiculous queues to buy bread.
Never did I imagine that I’d be one of those mad people forming the queue – but I did.
Beyond my common sense and usual need for productivity, I spent one and a half hours queuing up, under the blazing hot Buenos Aires summer sun, waiting impatiently in line to be able to purchase Plaza Mayor’s renouned Pan Dulce.
Here’s a picture of the queue if you think I’m gone bonkers exaggerating..
I finally entered the restaurant to buy my Pan Dulce
And here’s the Pan Dulce that I spent 1.5 hours of my life queing up for..
Frankly speaking the best, best, best Pan Dulce I’ve ever eaten.
Full of walnuts, raisins, almonds, prunes and lemon zest – at only 85 pesos for each loaf, it certainly beats many other bakeries in my neighbourhood.
But..am not sure if I’d be so crazy as to queue up again next year…!
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! GOD BLESS YOU!