Panettone, the Italian festive cake traditionally containing dried and candied fruit has, in recent years, increasingly graced Christmas tables all over the world, as an alternative to the rich, heavy puddings that strangely often follow one of the largest meals of the year. And, back in Italy, a new generation of artisans are creating panettone with an assortment of exciting ingredients to reinvigorate this most traditional of Christmas fare.
What is panettone?
Panettone is a light, brioche-style fruit bread made from flour, butter, sugar, and citrus peel. The crumb is airy, with a yellow tinge, while the outside is baked to a toasty brown. Dome-shaped (when star-shaped it’s called pandoro), panottone undergoes a complicated leavening process similar to sourdough. Originating in Milan, panettone became particularly popular as a gift in the early 20th century when bakers began to produce them in large batches. Supermarkets, delis and department stores are packed with panettone pyramids in the run up to Christmas.
The New Breed
Across Italy, bakers are finding new and exciting ways to craft superior panettone. Pepe Pasticceria in Sant'Egidio del Monte Albino use limoncello in theirs, or how about La Pasticceria Vignola, which produces a dairy-free, vegan friendly version using olive oil. Nicola Fiasconaro of Sicily’s Fiasconaro says the secret to making a great panettone is all in the mother yeast – his is 65-years-old!
Fancy making your own panettone at home? Try these recipes, first off, here’s how to make mini panettones laced with cognac.
Or how about this mini version, stuffed with vanilla cream?