Pandoro is a type of sweet bread from Verona that’s traditionally baked and served during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Pandoro is made with a yeast dough that has been liberally enriched with copious amounts of butter and eggs.
What sets pandoro apart is its shape: a tall frustum with an eight-point star cross-section. A classic pandoro contains no candied fruits or raisins, but modern varieties often add other fillings like chocolate chips and flavored cream.
By the 15th century, sweet bread made with butter and sugar had become a commodity among the Venetian noble families and was served throughout the year, regardless of the season. Due to the golden color of the dough, and the fact that the chefs in service of the wealthier families often decorated them with gold dust or thin sheets, they were called “pan de oro” (it. “golden bread”).
It was only in the late 19th century that a pandoro started becoming a Christmas staple. A Veronese pastry chef Domenico Melegatti took inspiration from a staple 13th-century Christmas sweet bread, Nadalin. Nadalin was shaped like a star to represent the comet that guided the Magi to Bethlehem and a newborn Jesus Christ. Melegatti decided to recreate the shape with a taller, fluffier dough. He trademarked his recipe in 1894, and the star-shaped pandoro quickly became a Christmas staple in the Veneto region, with the rest of the country soon following suit.