This initiative started many years ago when a few people of Gubbio, in Umbria region, decided to celebrate Christmas in a different way. Since then the cerimony repeats itself thanks to a special committee consisting of volunteers giving for free their work for about three months. Four hundred metres of light as the crow flies (1312 feet) to announce Christmas and to get Gubbio an authentic record. This shining shape reproducing a fir (height: 800 metres, 2624 feet; width: 400 metres, 1312 feet), appears rightly. Christmas tree made up of 500 lamps connected by 12000 metres of electric cables (40000 feet), which covers a mountainside of Monte Ingino from about 500 to 900 metres of altitude.
From 7 December 2009 to 10 January 2010
Almost every region in Italy has its own Christmas cake, but this Milanese specialty is by far the the most famous and most difficult to make.
1 oz. baker's yeast
3 oz. flour
2 cups flour
7 tbs. sugar
1 whole egg
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup melted butter
6 tbs. raisins, soaked and squeezed
2 oz. candied orange and lemon peel, diced
1 1/2 tbs. butter
Mix the yeast with the flour and as much water as necessary for the dough to be elastic. Wrap in a towel and put into a warm draft-free place (an unlit oven, for example) until doubled in size (it should take approx. 30 mins) and the surface is uneven. Make a small fontana with 4 tbs. flour. Crumble the dough cake on top of it, add 1/2 cup warm water and knead until the dough is elastic. Let rise in a warm place for 3 hours.
Punch down the dough, and then, knead in another 4 tbs. flour, with as much warm water as necessary. Place the dough in a warm place to rise for 2 hours. Combine the sugar, the whole egg and the yolks. Mix well and cook in a double boiler for a few minutes, beating the mixture with a whisk so that it becomes light and airy. Let cool.
Make another fontana with the remaining flour. Put in a pinch of salt, the risen dough, the butter and the egg mixture into the middle. Knead energetically for 20 mins. When the dough is smooth and elastic, add the raisins and candied peel. Grease and flour a sheet of waxed paper and place the dough in the center. Make a ring around it with a rectangular piece of cardboard and let rise in a warm place for at least 6 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Cut a cross on top of the cake with a sharp knife and put 1 tbs. butter in the middle. Cook the panettone in a pre-heated 400ºF oven for 40-45 mins. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted in the center comes out dry.