As a child of Midwestern suburbs, my first introduction to panettone, a Italian holiday bread, definitely in the aisle of TJ Maxx. Starting in early November, tall boxes, often in metallic or metallic tones with a small ribbon taped to the top as a sort of handle, began appearing on department store shelves. They remain there during the holiday rotation until they are slowly pushed out for Valentine’s Day Candy.
While this provenance expert has it’s fans, detractors are inevitable – and they’ve got jokes. A reviewer on Twitter Written, referring to a tagline on the bread’s packaging. Some offered intros to Johnny Carson’s classic song “There’s Only One Fruit Pie in the World,” while one blogger described it as tasting like an air freshener.
I wouldn’t go that far, but there’s something of an artificial taste to department stores (and even some supermarkets) types. I would hear and see people rave about their annual cardboards, but the few I’ve bought off the shelf have dried and splintered outer shells that flake off into cardboard-like strips when cut. . “Just not for me,” I thought.
Well, I thought wrong.
This year, I enjoyed a pair of fresh panetoni – made in Arzignano, Italy and imported within two days – and I am a total convert. Wear on panettone themed earrings, Sweatshirts and OPI nail polish. This is the Christmas dessert for me. The two that I have – a classic cookie packed with dried fruit and a chocolate encrusted one – are incredibly light and sweet like an air cake. Aromas of candied citrus, butter and lightly caramelized vanilla are evident upon opening the box. There’s nothing heavy or artificial (read: air freshener-like) about them.
I spoke with master pastry chef and bakery owner Nicola Olivieri of Olivieri 1882 about his panettone manufacturing process and how his product differs from the many shelf stable versions found in the US
“The first and most important part of the panettone process is taking care of Lievito madre (mother yeast), “Olivieri said.” This is the basis of our dough, and in other words, the base of our panettone. We have an entire team totally dedicated to taking care of it – it takes almost a whole day to get the panettone powder ready and we mix it three times per day at a very specific temperature. ”
When it’s ready, says Olivieri, the first batch of dough will be mixed. Then it rests for about 14 hours in the fermentation room until the volume triples. The dough returns to the mixer along with the remaining ingredients, such as dried fruit or chocolate. Once everything has been mixed well, it is allowed to rest. It is then shaped and placed into a paper mold.
Want more great articles and recipes? Registration Salon Food Newsletter.
“We then let it rest again in a low-temperature fermentation room for 24 hours,” he said. “Next is Scarpatura, a typical craft involving marking the superior part of panettone in four parts in the form of a cross. Then they directly go to the oven to bake. After baking, they lie upside down for 14 hours to avoid flattening due to the high amount of butter and only the mother’s flour to leaven. ”
According to Olivieri, because his panettone has such a long fermentation time, it has a “really soft, smooth texture that’s completely different from the dense, dry texture you usually find in department stores.”
The difference in taste is immediately noticeable, as is the difference in price. You can sometimes find seasonal bargains in stores for as low as $1.99; Olivieri’s costs about $75 each. Customers also need to plan to eat them within a few days of arrival. Since they’re not packed with preservatives, they won’t last forever.
And indeed, after a few days, the few leftover slices started to get a little stiff around the edges. Don’t worry, though – that’s your cue to make panettone french toast, the ideal breakfast for the day after Christmas.
More stories about holiday sweets:
https://www.salon.com/2021/12/22/if-youve-never-had-fresh-panettone–youve-never-really-had-panettone/ If you’ve never had a new panettone – you never really had a panettone