Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Panettone: No Nuts/Perfect Amount of Fruit

Panettone, left from Bauli, Italy's No. 1 maker of the Italian Christmas cake. Photo from Web.

HEAD’S UP: December again already. It’s the gifting season, which means more things to do with less time to do them in. Don’t despair. At VEVLYN’S PEN, we are here to help. For the next week or so — 12 days before Christmas ending on 22 Dec. — each day we will introduce a product/item, brand or nifty shop that we believe is worthy of consideration for those very special gifts.

Gift Idea No. 5:

the kind of fruitcake that people who don’t like fruitcake can sink their teeth into. (Why does fruit cake have such a bad reputation – it’s delicious? Apparently, all of that fruit/nuts represent too much deliciousness.)

Panettone, on the other hand, may have deliciousness in just-right portions. The Italian Christmas cake is not loaded with calories; it’s not too sweet; it is not sticky. Panettone is a tall cake with a domed top and cylindrical base. Scattered throughout its moist, fluffy texture are candied orange, citron, lemon zest and raisins. While the fruity version is the most popular, there are also chocolate and plain versions. Generally, it is enjoyed with beverages such as hot chocolate and sweet wine. It is most popular during the holiday season. During the Epiphany festival in some regions it is favored over galette des Rois (King cake)

Panettone has a soft, fluffly texture and far less fruit than a traditional U.S. fruitcake.

In the countries where panettone is sold it is available in supermarketes, grocery stores and some bakeries. In New York, traditional-size cakes cost as little as $8. Googling “where to buy panettone” yielded many results. (

Panettone (pronounced /pænəˈtoʊni/) is a deriviative of the Italian word panetto, or small loaf bread. The suffix -one means "large bread." It is 4.74 to 5.9 inches high and weighs about 2 pounds. It dates to the Roman Empire, and it is generally accepted that it originated in Milan. Panettone is popular outside Italy, too, particularly in South America, thanks to Italian immigrants. The Spanish refer to it as Panetón or Pan Dulce.

Over the years tension has increased between the Italians and South Americans around panettone, mainly because the former accuses the latter of not adhering to the strict guidelines for making the cake. Making panettone is exacting and time-consuming, including certain amount of natural yeast that acts as a preservative. A days-long process is responsble for its fluffiness.

Someone has been enjoying chocolate panettone and wine.

For the last couple of years the Italians have been working to obtain a Protected Designation of Origin, and have taken their complaint to the World Trade Organization. Though no success yet abroad, they have managed to protect the authenticity of panettone at home with the Denominazione di Origine Protetta designation. No company operating in Italy can use the name panettone unless they meet the prescribed standards.

So which panettone should a consumer buy, Italian, South American or some other kind? Read the label and make a decision: Panettone made using margarine and powdered eggs or panettone made using butter, fresh eggs and other traditional means?

The answer is obvious, no?

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