A Festive Feast Skye McAlpine: Panettone Mascarpone & Almond Cake

At no time does the term ‘dessert stomach’ apply more than at Christmas time. Sat around the dinner table, washing down the last of the roast potatoes with a glass of bubbly, repeatedly turning down that last, lonely Brussels sprout… until someone says it; ‘anyone have room for pudding?’

Full stomach instantly forgotten, it’s when the Christmas Pudding, Yule Log, or, when you’re dining with Skye McAlpine, the panettone gets brought out. A traditional Italian Christmas cake, it’s the perfect way to round off our Festive Feasts with Skye McAlpine series—and this year’s Christmas meal, more importantly.

 

“All I have done here, is layer the panettone with a mascarpone and almond buttercream to create an even more decadent confection. As to the decoration, let your imagination run wild: sugared almonds, glacé fruits, fresh flowers, the world is your oyster.

I just can’t tell you how good this is.

- Skye McAlpine

“For my part, I like to dip redcurrants in egg white, roll them in caster sugar until they shimmer like frosted berries, then add them to the cake with small bunches of fresh thyme and rosemary.

“One last little note: any leftovers are sheer bliss with a mug of coffee for breakfast the next day.”

 

What you’ll need

  • 250g salted butter
  • 500g softened icing sugar
  • 320g mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 panettone cake (about 1kg)
  • Redcurrants
  • Egg white
  • Caster sugar
  • Candied orange segments
  • Sprigs of thyme

 

How it’s made

  1. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Sift in half the icing sugar and beat until well combined. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the mascarpone until just combined, taking care not to overbeat or the mixture will become grainy and lumpy. Stir in the ground almonds.
  2. Using a bread knife, slice off the ‘muffin top’ from the panettone to create a level surface; discard the trimmings (if I don’t gobble them up there and then, I cut them into small fingers to serve for breakfast or afternoon tea). Peel away the wrapping around the sides of the panettone, then cut horizontally through the middle with the bread knife to create 2 or 3 tiers of cake. How many will depend on the height of your panettone; some are a little taller and comfortably allow for 3 layers, while others are squatter and allow for 2.
  3. Place the bottom layer of panettone on a cake stand or serving dish and spread a generous dollop of the mascarpone and almond cream on top. Top with the second layer of panettone (and repeat with a third layer, if you have one). Spread the last of the cream over the top and sides.
  4. Dip a handful of redcurrants in egg white and roll them in caster sugar—this is the frosted berry effect I was talking about earlier—and then add them to the cake with small bunches of fresh sprigs of thyme and candied orange segments.

 

Find your fill of Skye’s delicious recipes in her new book A Table in Venice.