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Upside-Down Panettone French Toast (Rabanada de Panetone) and The Story Behind Panettone

Who doesn’t love panettone?  At my table, it is a family tradition!  In Brazil, Christmas dishes can vary from one region to the next, or even from family to family, yet panettone seems to be a near-unanimous national preference. Old-fashioned French toast (or rabanada in Portuguese) is another tradition handed down by my late maternal Grandmother,  a Portuguese descendant. By uniting two family traditions, I came up with my own, with this scrumptious Upside-Down Panettone French Toast (Rabanada de Panetone) — a festive treat that can be served either for Christmas breakfast or as a dessert.   Way cool, don’t you think?

Upside-Down Panettone French Toast (Rabanada de Panetone)

‘Wait a minute!  Isn’t panettone Italian?’ someone might ask… So ‘why is panettone a tradition in Brazil?’ Good question!

This dome-shaped sweet bread loaf from Milan, Italy is a tradition in Brazil because my native country is home to the largest number of Italians outside of Italy.  🙂  They have brought their traditions along with them, and influenced both Brazil’s cuisine and its culture — especially in the Southern and Southeastern regions.

Although panettone is marketed under several brand names around the world, Bauducco is the most popular one in Brazil.  In recent years, Brazilian-made panettone has been available in the US at Walmart supermarkets, among other places. Panettone is also enjoyed in many other countries in South America, Portugal, Southeastern France, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland.  Its popularity is due to its delicious taste, low cost, and abundance.  The most traditional type contains candied fruits and raisins– but nowadays, many variations are available, such as this one with chocolate chips.

Panettone and Its Story...

Some of the other panettone flavors found in different parts of the world include tiramisu, lemon, pear, fig, and herbs.

Panettone is far older than one might imagine.  Its origins date back to the Roman Empire, when ancient Romans used to sweeten a type of leavened cake with honey.  Many centuries later, in its previous fruitcake-like shape, it appears in a sixteenth-century painting by the Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder…

A scholar, a peasant and a knight under a tree in the Land of Plenty. Pieter Bruegel the Elder -- The Land of Cockaygne, 1567

…as well as receiving mention in a contemporary cookbook of that time, Opera dell’arte del cucinare,  penned by Bartolomeo Scappi — personal chef to popes and cardinals.

But only later, in the 18th century, did panettone come to be associated with Christmas.   It was referred to in the writings of the Milanese illuminist Pietro Verri, who recorded its name as “Pane di Tono” (luxury cake).

In the early 20th century, panettone began to be produced in large quantities in Italy, where it acquired its present tall, domed shape and light texture.  Its popularity soon spread to other countries, where it began to take on different flavors.

Nearly all who take a bite become instant fans.  Personally, I can enjoy panettone plain, toasted and spread with butter or jam, in sweet sandwiches, tiramisu, trifles, bread puddings, panettone french toasts, and in many other culinary creations.

Upside-Down Panettone French Toast (Rabanada de Panetone)

OK, I confess it…  I’m a huge fan of panettone!  Great is whoever invented it, and blessed are we who can feast our souls enjoying its sweet, airy richness.  Well, whether Bauducco brand or not, grab your panettone and come to the kitchen with me to prepare the best panettone French toast that you will ever have…

Upside-Down Panettone French Toast (Rabanada de Panetone)


P.S.: I am curious… What is your favorite panettone (brand and flavor)?

Print Recipe
Upside-Down Panettone French Toast
A festive, gorgeous french toast made from panettone, pears, and raspberries, that can be served for Christmas breakfast or as a dessert.
Votes: 8
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Votes: 8
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
  2. Peel and slice pears crosswise into rounds about 1/2-inch thick. Remove seeds carefully with a sharp paring knife. Using a medium to small star shape cookie cutter, cut into stars. Place the star-shaped pears in a large bowl, and toss all sides gently with a mixture of lemon juice (to prevent discoloration), cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the star-shaped pears and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar and cook, agitating the skillet, until the sugar has dissolved (about 30-60 seconds). Remove from heat.
  4. Lightly grease a dark 9- inch round baking pan with butter (or butter flavored non-stick cooking spray). Arrange the star-shaped sautéed pears into the buttered pan. Then, arrange raspberries (about 1 to 1-1/2 cups) in the empty spaces and sprinkle raspberries with a pinch of powdered sugar.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in milk, white sugar, and vanilla. Dip, tossing gently, panettone cubes into the egg-milk-sugar mixture just to moisten. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of the panettone cubes to the pan, arranging into a single layer over the layered fruits until no empty spaces are seen.
  6. In a small bowl, mash with a fork 1 cup of raspberries with 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar. Then, pour and spread this berry mixture over the layered panettone cubes. Using a teaspoon, spoon mascarpone cheese over the mashed raspberries (or place cream cheese cubes over the panettone cubes) .
  7. Next, layer the remaining panettone cubes on top and pour any leftover egg-milk-sugar mixture over the layered panettone cubes, making sure that there is no empty space left. (At this point, the panettone French toast can be covered and refrigerated overnight if desired).
  8. Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of brown sugar on top and bake the panettone French toast, uncovered, for about 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on a rack.
  9. Run a knife around the edges gently. Place a serving tray/plate over the top of the pan, and carefully flip it over to unmold the panettone French toast onto the plate. If desired, sift a bit of powdered sugar on top of the panettone French toast to give a snow effect and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Extra fresh berries can be served on the side. Serve panettone french toast warm for breakfast, or chilled as a dessert (In this last case, drizzle berry coulis or Port wine sauce on top).
Recipe Notes

Raspberries are cultivated in both Southern and Southeastern Brazil.

Panettone French Toast… and panettone French toast…

…Panettone French toast.  Upside-down panettone French toast!  Festive panettone French toast 

my panettone French toast.  A delightful panettone French toast served for breakfast… 

48 Responses to Upside-Down Panettone French Toast (Rabanada de Panetone) and The Story Behind Panettone

  1. Lail | With A Spin December 11, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    I can never say no to any French toast. Love them. Very festive and flavorful Rabanada de Panetone. Thank you for the detailed history.

    • Denise Browning December 11, 2013 at 11:19 am #

      Thanks, Lail! I have eaten several french toasts but nothing like this one! 🙂

  2. [email protected] Riffs December 11, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    This really is way cool! What an interesting idea. Great twist on French toast. I’ll bet this tastes wonderful! Thanks for this.

  3. Sugar et al December 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    I have never ever imagined a version of French toast could look so beautiful. I am a BIG fan of Panettone too and adding it to this dessert just makes me love it more. Gorgeous beyond words!

    • Denise Browning December 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      Thanks a lot, Sonali! I have eaten and eaten this like there is no tomorrow… 🙂

  4. Kumar's Kitchen December 11, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    wow…you are seriously a genius to combine these two heavenly treats into one…can’t imagine it remaining plated for more than a minute at our home…everyone is sure going to finish it off till the last crumb…gorgeous dish,delicious food clicks and a lovely article on food history,thanks 🙂

    • Denise Browning December 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

      Thanks, Kumar! The whole thing has almost disappeared within 24 hours. 🙂

  5. Little Cooking Tips December 12, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Perfect! We don’t have fresh raspberries here in Greece, so we’ll have to improvise something to substitute (any ideas?:) ), but it sounds really delicious!
    Thank you Denise for another beautifully executed, delicious recipe!:)

    • Denise Browning December 12, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      Thanks a lot! You can use strawberries or any other berry instead of raspberries.

      • Little Cooking Tips December 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

        Sounds great! We ‘ll use some strawberries&blackberries together:) Thank you!

  6. Shashi @ December 12, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    I had no clue that Brazil was home to the most Italians outside of Italy!
    Your panettone/french toast sounds fabulous – love the pear in it!

    • Denise Browning December 12, 2013 at 8:09 am #

      Thanks, Shashi! Italian immigrants have influenced both our cuisine and culture a lot.

  7. The Café Sucre Farine December 12, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Panettone and raspberries? How could you go wrong? This looks perfect for holiday (and everyday) entertaining! Pinned!

  8. [email protected] is How I Cook December 12, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    Pannetone is not something I’ve ever eaten. You are now making me wonder what I am missing. I’ve seen many recipes but I am not a fan of candied citrus and if I recall that is in there. Perhaps there are other varieties? Love the art history!

    • Denise Browning December 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

      Abbe: There are different flavors of panettone. This French toast was made with the chocolate chip one.

  9. Amy (Savory Moments) December 12, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    This looks so delicious and really beautiful! What a great idea and very festive!

    • Denise Browning December 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      Thanks, Amy! Welcome to FBTY. I am happy that you have stopped by…

  10. Nami | Just One Cookbook December 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Denise, this is a brilliant idea! And you reminded me that I haven’t bought (never made from scratch…) Panettone this year! How could I forget! This year everything (including holiday cards) are delayed… actually I haven’t started anything Christmas besides setting Christmas tree! >_< I must catch up, and this french toast is really a great idea that I'd love to make!!

    • Denise Browning December 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      I understand, Nami! Yes, the holidays are awesome but quite a busy time for everyone. I hope you find a time to shop and enjoy the season!!!

  11. Julia | December 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    This looks wonderful, Denise! What a great take on a traditional Christmas food in Brazil (as I just learned from your post :)). So, since you made it in a cake pan, does it make it a dessert then? Is Rabanada de Panetone usually a dessert, or is it more of a breakfast item?

    • Denise Browning December 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

      Hi, Julia! This is a versatile, mildly sweet dish that can be serve either as a dessert or for breakfast.

  12. Ash-foodfashionparty December 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    How interesting, never knew the fact. I remember making panettone long long ago and now I just buy it, the quality is so good outside. Love french toast of any kind, I know this would be awesome.
    Girl, Christmas is almost here, I must say I’m a bit stressed. Just like Nami, haven’t done much as yet, then again, I just do it for fun, so I will sorta take it easy.
    hugs m’girl. This sure does look yum.

    • Denise Browning December 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      Thanks, Ash! Take care…Wishing you a very happy season and holiday! xx

  13. Karen (Back Road Journal) December 13, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    This would certainly make a beautiful Christmas brunch item. It is so nice that it can be prepped the evening before.

    • Denise Browning December 13, 2013 at 7:14 am #

      Thanks, Karen! This is certainly good for breakfast/brunch and as a dessert as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Daniela December 13, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    OMG, Denise,This Panettone cake looks divine.
    The pictures, colors and the creativity in your post is outstanding.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. Meena Kumar December 13, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Hi Denise,just came to say thank you so much for stopping by my blog and look what I see here awesome looking Christmas dessert !! …oh yumm!! is all I can say.
    Love the mix of fresh fruits and dry fruits in the dessert.

  16. Deb December 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    Christmas traditions are such a precious combination of our individual histories! The Panettone French Toast is an extraordinary example, just irresistible Denise! Happy holidays!

  17. Coffee and Crumpets December 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I love pannetonne, and I love using it for a French toast. This is an excellent way of making a one pan version! I love it!

  18. sowmya December 15, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    I love panettone… Thanks for unique idea to use some leftover panettone bread 🙂
    Beautiful clicks .. french toast looks yum 🙂

  19. Raymund December 16, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    That looks fruity delicious! perfect with a dessert wine

  20. Shu December 17, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Pannetone? AND french toast? Altogether?? NUTS. I hopped over from Coffee and Crumpets when I saw that in the commentluv link underneath your comment, because there was no way I could not click on a title that had two of those things together. That looks stunning, I could murder one right now! Love the story behind panettone; I had no idea, just been eating it with no regard 😉 Thanks for sharing it and happy christmas to you!

    • Denise Browning December 17, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      Thanks so much for the visit, Shu! As well as for the nice words. I am looking forward to stopping by on your blog.

  21. Amira December 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    The pictures in the non-English version are much bigger and clear than the English version!!! That’s discrimination my friend hahahaha :). I loved loved they way it looks … OMG so juicy and tender. Sure gonna look for it at Walmart next visit and definitely will try your recipe. Thanks for sharing … I’ve missed all your great recipes.

    • Denise Browning December 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      Thanks so much, Amira! It is so good to have you visiting me again here. I have missed your posts as well. See ya in a sec!

  22. Ana October 7, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    Denise hello, nice images and this recipe is delicious. I loved your site, congratulations.


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