King Panettone

Is that a Louis Vuitton??!

So how many xmas breads will it be this year? An armload like that of 2010? On Sunday we had every intention of getting cozy and drinking hot chocolate around the newly installed stufa, but the morning was shaping up so nice that we decided to cross one more thing off of our holiday to-do list: buy some panettone. This year, however, we nixed industrial-made supermarket panettone and headed into Milan for the 4th edition of Re Panettone, a fairly new event that brings the best of the best all under one roof.

Pride and panettone

While a corner of the building was set aside for Malvasia tastings (at a small cost), the rest of the floor space was occupied by 35 participants from northern to southern Italy. Some of the stands were decorated to the hilt, with my favorite being Ol Pastisser of Clusone, Bergamo. Traditional or non-traditional? The choice is up to you, but when it comes to good panettone, the really, really good panettone, your palate will be so impressed by their excellence that it becomes difficult choosing which one(s) to buy. At 19€/kilo they aren’t cheap, but I overheard a woman saying that while they were all great, the best panettone comes from Milan. We eventually settled for 2 from Ol Patisser – a traditional panettone with candied fruit, and a more creative version with mountain strawberries and white chocolate. We also picked up an item called La Focaccia from Pasticceria Tabiano in Tabiano Terme (Parma). This isn’t the focaccia as the world knows it, but is a rich egg and butter dough studded with candied fruit slices. The shape resembles panettone but its distinctiveness lies in the very soft and light texture and a hint of sweet liqueur.

Making panettone at home is possible if you’ve got the time and patience to spare. Artisan breads require atleast a day and a half, and you’ll need some pasta madre “mother dough” to begin the process. The steps involve making a first and second dough that calls for a 12-hour rest period in between. Another 45 minute rest period after the 2nd dough before scaling, shaping, and placing into those pretty brown and gold-patterned paper pans. The panettone must then proof for 5 hours before baking. This abbreviated clip on youtube takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes peek at Ol Pastisser in Clusone.

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