Panettone, the queen of sweet breads

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Just in time for the holidays, this dessert is delicious served warm or, chilled, the next day!

BUDINO DI PANETTONE (Bread pudding, with thanks to Carlo Middione)

Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup peach preserves (or jam)

Half of a 1 1/2 pound loaf of panettone, cut into 1/2 inch slices

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups milk 

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup dry or sweet marsala

1 ounce brandy

1.  Adjust rack to upper third of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Using 2 tablespoons of the butter, grease a 2-quart, oven-proof casserole dish (oval or rectangular).  Spread the peach preserves evenly over the bottom of the dish.

3.  Layer the slices of panettone over the preserves, overlapping the slices as necessary.  Set aside.

4. With a whisk or an electric beater, beat the eggs together with the sugar.  Slowly beat or whisk in the milk and heavy cream.  Add the marsala and brandy and mix again.

5.  Pour the mixture over the sliced panettone and let soak for half an hour.

6.  Dot the panettone with the remaining butter and bake for 40 minutes or until the custard is set and the top is golden.

7.  Serve the pudding warm with additional peach preserves mixed with a small amount of marsala and a dash of brandy (optional).

—E.B.