Everyone is crazy about artisanal panettone – Italian Cuisine

Everyone is crazy about artisanal panettone

As we approach Christmas, talk about trends by the way artisan panettone it might seem obvious, but it is not. From year to year, in fact, around the dessert of the holidays typical Milanese a real movement has been created that involves foodies even before professionals, all in search of perfect leavened. A treasure hunt that now keeps producers and consumers busy for practically twelve months a year in the name of seasonal adjustment, as proven by the success of the summer panettone. Naturally, it is in these weeks that the climax is reached. When, to the delight of gourmands, the best pastry chefs, chefs and bakers compete with doughs, top ingredients and unusual fillings.

A little data
According to a recent one Nielsen research, dedicated to the evolution of consumption of this dessert in Italy, 7 out of 10 families do not give up on tradition and bring panettone to the festive table and even earlier, given that massive purchases are already starting to October. Half of this audience of consumers prefers artisanal productions, also preferred to those "premium" industrial. And if it is true that the same research has shown a slight decline in the market for “anniversary” sweets, it is also true that of all the panettone is the one that has suffered the least from this contraction. Also thanks to the "change of use": no longer just dessert at the end of the meal, it is also chosen for Breakfast (even at the bar!) e snack.

The characteristics of the top panettone
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many fervent supporters give life to a thick chat, on social media as on convivial occasions, where everyone has their say. tastings, correctness of the dough, quality of the ingredients. If you want to join the conversation too, here are the main things to know to judge competently whether or not what you have in your hands is a good panettone. Point one, the perfume: the butter, but also the aroma ofOrange and the discreet but present underlay of the natural yeast. Three elements that you must also find when tasting. The pasta must not present alveolations, that is holes, too big (at times they look like caves!), but dense and regular. Rather, when breaking the slice with your hands, you need to check that the dough is racy, a sign that the leavening took place correctly, developing vertically. Another thing to evaluate is the cooking. No to dark brown panettone, almost black on the surface, with the characteristic bitter aftertaste of burnt. But a firm no even to those that are too heavy, with the wet crumb which, once pressed, remains where it is without lying down again: an unequivocal sign that the panettone is raw! Raisins soft and candied fruit pleasant under the teeth, tender and not sticky, which taste of fruit and not just sugar, will mark the extra point that can make the difference.

Undisputed champions
All these parameters, judged by experts and amateurs, contribute to the success of individual brands. Some of which are now firmly at the top of the national rankings for several years. As Vincenzo Tiri which, in Potenza, makes what – according to experts – is probably the best panettone in Italy, which has almost become an object of worship. They are not far behind, being able to boast legions of loyal fans, the Campania Salvatore Gabbiano from Pompeii (10 references, including Cuba with chocolate and rum) e Sal De Riso, "Pastry king" of the Amalfi Coast who offers among others the Cilentano with buffalo butter, white figs, walnuts and wild fennel. The fact that these samples come from Southern Italyby successfully bringing their interpretation of a Milanese specialty to the podium, it no longer surprises anyone. After all, the confectionery tradition is very rooted in our South. Not to mention the fact that among the most distinctive ingredients of the panettone there are candied fruit and there is no doubt that the best come from Sicily. He knows it well Angelo Inglima which, in Canicattì (AG), combines them with pistachios from Bronte and chocolates from Modica.

Milan and panettone
This does not mean, of course, that the Lombard capital is ready to give up the scepter. In the shadow of the Madonnina, the panettone rite knows no decline and takes place in the discreet and elegant atmosphere of historic pastry shops and gourmet shops. As Marquesses 1824, famous for decorated panettone, which this year dedicates its most chic creations to the Christmas ballet of the Nutcracker. While the pastry chef Vincenzo Santoro of pastry Martesana he thought of ideally combining the Milanese dessert with the Viennese Sacher to create the Panetùn de l'Enzo, with a dark chocolate glaze and apricot filling in jam and semi-candied fruit. The timeless Peck, temple of Milanese gastronomy, accompanies the “special edition” gianduia, mandarin and hazelnut glaze with a surprising hazelnut and white truffle cream. Finally, the pastry panettone is greedy and fashionable Jasmine: in their beautiful colored striped boxes, they are enclosed in a traditional and creative version, such as the one with gianduia di Valrhona, candied Ciaculli mandarin peel and Piedmont hazelnuts.

The list goes on
As proof that panettone is now a national flagship, the prestigious productions are multiplying every year everywhere. Among the most awarded, those of Olivieri 1882 which declines the Christmas dessert in 12 variations of flavors and formats: from peach, amaretto and chocolate to apricot and salted caramel, now a great little classic of the pastry shop of Arzignano (Vicenza). The panettone of the collection are also absolutely for connoisseurs AT Pâtissiere from Andrea Tortora who, in his workshop in Mantua, bakes sweets at the limit of perfection, acclaimed by gourmands. Its secret? Carletto, the mother yeast created at the age of 17 together with his pastry chef grandfather. A selected yeast, loved and pampered over the years also for the pastry chef from Brescia Francesco Bedussi, which also produces candied fruit on its own. Instead, he is a third generation baker Antonio Follador, a member of the Academy of the masters of sourdough, who in his oven in Pordenone expertly mixes traditional panettone, almond, glazed, with Peruvian chocolate, berries or pistachio, a great top seller in recent years.

Young leaveners grow up
The world of modern leavening lives on research, experimentation and contamination between different artisan realities. The Bolognese of Brisa oven which have given life to unprecedented partnerships with shops and bistros animated by the same philosophy, such as gastronomy Gigliola of Lucca or the Food Typography from Milan. Young teams with which mixtures with very original additions have been studied: lemon, dates, sesame, or quince, lemon and chocolate. It is making a name for itself among the young leaveners Simone De Feo from the Cremeria Terminus of Reggio Emilia. Born ice cream maker, he developed a passion for mother yeast thanks to the master Rolando Morandin and today he bakes soft, stringy and … very pop panettone. Like the Panettone Nero “to listen to”: a coffee-flavored gianduia dough, with drops of salted caramel, linked to an electronic music project to be combined in streaming. Speaking of contaminations!

And then there are chefs and … pizza chefs
Now there is no restaurant or chef who has not tried his hand at making Christmas sweets. To the San Domenico of Imola, two Michelin stars, the chef Massimiliano Mascia and the pastry chef John Morning they bake three panettone including the semi-candied "three apricot" one, dehydrated and in drops of soft jellies. Roberto Di Pinto, Neapolitan who moved to Milan with the restaurant Sine, perfumes his O 'Panettone with the aromas of the pastiera. Always in Milan, Eugenio Boer of the BU: R restaurant, in collaboration with the pastry chef friend Jean Marc Vezzoli, has revisited the classic of the holidays by including honey from sulla di ape nera, candied fruit from maestro Corrado Assenza, Selva della Valtellina eggs, malga butter, Tahitian vanilla and Cervia salt. While Daniel Canzian in his Emporio he offers the MIO panettone perfumed with an intense roasted orange paste. A lot of “roast” even in the panettone with salted and smoked butter on the restaurant's grill Andreina of Loreto (Ancona), a Michelin star: the idea came to the chef Errico Recanati, famous for its refined cooking on the grill. The Veronese “pizzaricercatore” Renato Bosco chooses for its panettone evocative names of the fillings: Recioc is with coffee and white chocolate, AmaRè with dark chocolate and black cherries. After all, it should not be surprising that a pizza chef is familiar with the leavened cake par excellence. Thus, the Brianza area Cristian Marasco from the Blue Cave of Merate (Lecco) has created the "three-dough" panettone, a limited edition, which combines 8 other recipes including that of the "fake panettone": without raisins or candied fruit, with orange and Madagascar vanilla paste, in the gourmet version it is accompanied by 4 pastry bags filled with mascarpone, chocolate and coconut creams, hazelnuts and pastry.

A salty surprise
If you found so much sweetness a bit "cloying" … let's conclude this long roundup with a total outsider, decidedly salty and made in Puglia. It is the Pancapocollo, the salumificio's panettone with capocollo from Martina Franca Santoro di Cisternino (BR) conceived by the butchers together with Emanuele Lenti of the homonymous bakery in Grottaglie (TA). Ideal to serve, lukewarm, with Christmas appetizers and open the menus of the most beautiful, greedy and … leavened party of the year!

Francesca Romana Mezzadri
December 2021

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