It is virtually impossible to imagine finishing an Italian Christmas dinner without the inevitable Panettone
Panettone is one of the most typical Italian Christmas cakes. Its origins are deeply rooted in the ancient history of Milan. Legend has it that its birth, at the court of Ludovico il Moro, was almost accidental, the result of the imagination of a pastry chef named Toni (“pan di Toni”, Toni’s bread, hence “Panettone”). The dessert, as we know it today, is the final result of a long evolution, rich in fascinating stories and legends. Nowadays Panettone comes in thousands of variations depending on the region you are in and on your tastes. Whichever way, one thing is for sure: Italians wouldn’t even fathom Christmas without panettone.
A good panettone requires hours, actually days, of work for the experienced hands of pastry chefs, made through slow and patient work using top-quality ingredients. It’s prepared by baking a leavened dough made of flour, water, eggs, butter, with the addition of raisins and little pieces of candied fruit. The result is a finely textured sweet bread loaf, cylindrical in shape, with a round base and a domed top. When first sliced it unleashes an intense aroma of bread and citrus.
The panettone has long crossed the boundaries of its native city. Every Italian bakery must test itself with the preparation of panettone, which has become the symbol of Christmas throughout Italy. There are also festivals for tasting different kinds of panettone, which has enchanted all Italians from north to south. During its regional expansion, Panettone has kept its main feature, which is the preparation with a double or triple rise, but it has adapted to the regional confectionery ingredients and traditions.
In Campania, among the “Made in Naples” panettone we include the use of Pellecchiella apricots, typical of the Vesuvian area, to which an orange paste is added to the dough that gives the cake a unique aroma. A novelty from Campania in recent years is Pan Rubus, which comes from the combination of the freshness of raspberries (hence the name Rubus, or raspberry in Latin) and the intense flavor of dark chocolate.
Pugliettone has recently been born in Puglia, a unique product because it is characterized by the particular method of cooking in terracotta and for which only regional ingredients are used in the filling. This declination of the panettone with an Apulian character is not just a dessert but the union of flavors, aromas and traditions typical of a multi-faceted territory, which takes place in the perfect marriage of figs from Salento, lemons from the Gargano, aromatic essences from the Murgia Bari, orange peel from Tarantino and typical Toritto almond glaze.
In Sardinia, in the province of Nuoro, the concept of Panettone has been taken beyond the Christmas season alone with Assoladu (a term that in Sardinian indicates a place beaten by the sun), the summer panettone that combines the enveloping flavors of the typically winter dessert with the freshness and aromas of the first summer fruits. To the classic base of the panettone, organic Milis lemons were added, manually candied to maintain all the organoleptic properties of the fruit, and white chocolate, which sweetens the taste and gives a sense of inner satisfaction. Another essential and characteristic ingredient of the territory is Crannatza, a sweet wine obtained from Vernaccia di Oristano, of which the aromatic part is used, which gives a delicately liqueur scent. The result is a symphony of aromas, composed of the exotic notes of citrus fruits, the sweetness of white chocolate and the elegance of fortified wine that recalls almond blossoms.
In Sicily, the best pastry chefs have interpreted the panettone with pistachio from Bronte, candied orange from Sicily, Modica IGP chocolate and Malvasia, to best express the island in its flavors and aromas. In this context, an interesting “made in Sicily” evolution of the panettone concept is the “Ciàuru”, a dessert from Canicatti. Sweet in taste and strong in perfume (in Sicilian dialect, the word Ciàuru indicates an extremely pleasant smell), its undisputed protagonist are Sicilian citrus fruits, resulting in a distinctive fragrance of Sicily.
If you want to taste Ciàuru, you will find it on Aim.store.