What is Panettone? – Where to order the best panettone online

“They thought I was definitely crazy.”

That’s the reaction pastry chef Roy Shvartzapel says he had six years ago when he told his colleagues and friends he was starting a panettone business only online.

“People said, what are you thinking? This will never work. No one in America knows what panettone is, let alone enough people to buy enough to justify a business,” the resident said. bay area. But Shvartzapel, who had worked with great chefs like Pierre Hermé, Ferran Adrià, Thomas Keller, and learned to make panettone from Iginio Massari– a man considered the godfather of Italian pastry chefs – knew he was on to something.

Chef Roy Shvartzapel

Courtesy

“I believed, maybe because I had spent so much time in Europe, Italy and France, that it was only a matter of time before someone introduced a category that already existed. I did not introduce this category of panettone which is not the inedible $ 7.99 panettone produced in June that we all knew. I did not invent anything. I may have been a catalyst to attract panettone attention in the United States and introduce people to a level of quality of a product that has been around for a long time. ”

The response has been lively. So lively, in fact, that Shvartzapel can’t keep his panettone in stock. Christmas preorders on his bakery website have been closed for almost two weeks. However, the site is still accepting New Year’s pre-orders and, for a holiday exclusive, Shvartzapel has teamed up with Michelin-starred Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Beverly Hills to create two limited-edition flavors. which sells for $ 150: candied orange with raisins and orange with hazelnut gianduja.

While panettone is undoubtedly having a culinary moment, its long history is worth exploring. Here’s everything you want to know about it.

Roy's panettone
Roy Shvartzapel’s panettone comes in two flavors: orange, candied grapes and chocolate.

Nicolas muncy

What exactly is Panettone?

Panettone is a lightly sweet bread (or cake, some say) that is traditionally eaten during the holiday season. It has a dome shape, and the best have an airy texture with a rich, buttery taste. The traditional version includes dried fruits like candied orange peels and raisins.

Panettone is often confused with pandoro, another Italian pastry eaten around Christmas. However, Pandoro is originally from Verona and generally does not contain any dried fruit. It is traditionally made in a larger star shape and topped with powdered sugar.

Where was it created?

According to legend, the roots of Panettone go back to the 15th century. As John Mariani wrote in The dictionary of Italian food and drink and the Washington post then Underline, “the cake takes its name from a 15th century legend of an Italian baker named Toni. His beautiful daughter was courted by an aristocrat who offered to work as an apprentice in the bakery, just to be near the object. of his affection. The An apprentice created a very rich and popular cake which became known as “pain di Toni,” or Tony’s bread. (In today’s English, the name of the bread is pronounced usually “pan-neh-To-nay”.) ”

Whatever the true origin story, experts agree that panettone has deep ties to Milan. “An entire city identifies with this candy. It’s important for Milan, and for the Milanese ”, Stanislao Porzio, author of the book panettone and the founder and organizer of Re Panettone, the Italian national festival dedicated to gastronomy, told BBC. “But it’s also very important for bakeries all over Italy. The panettone has become the typical Italian Christmas dessert.

panettone
A pastry chef adds raisins to the dough while preparing a traditional panettone on December 6, 2017, at Pasticceria San Gregorio in Milan.

MIGUEL MEDINA / AFPGetty Images

While panettone originated in Italy, Italian immigrants to South America between 1880 and 1900 brought their recipes with them when they first settled in Argentina and then in Brazil. Panettone took off in South America, and now Peruvians are consuming their country’s version, made from dried papaya, around Christmas and Peru’s Independence Day in July.

How should I eat and store it?

Shvartzapel recommends consuming your panettone at room temperature or slightly warmed with coffee, tea or dessert wine. He suggests cutting it in half vertically (through the paper mold) with a serrated knife, then cutting it into smaller pieces. Panettone has a shelf life of 30 days, and to preserve its freshness, it should be kept tightly closed in the bag in which it comes at room temperature and away from direct sunlight or heat.

Why is there such a price disparity?

The best panettone takes a lot of effort to produce. Shvartzapel, for example, takes around 40 hours to make. He starts with a natural starter made from water, flour and wild yeast, which he then mixes with flour, eggs, butter and sugar. After that, he kneads the panettone and lets it sit and rise several times before baking it. To create and preserve the domed structure, Shvartzapel and other chefs hang their panettone upside down to cool.

Hang panettone Christmas cakes upside down to complete preparation
Panettones hang upside down in a Milanese bakery.

Images of CavanGetty Images

The price disparity between panettones like those offered by the bakery Shvartzapel From Roy, which sells them for $ 75, and those available for around $ 10 on Amazon comes the time it takes to create the top quality versions and the ingredients they use. Bauducco, which offers versions on Amazon and in supermarkets in the United States, is the largest producer of bakery products in Brazil and the largest manufacturer of panettone in the world, exporting to more than 80 countries.

Mass-produced panettone is made using a commercial process with commercial yeast and preservatives, which purists avoid. There is also a range of quality among the ingredients. Dino Borri is the main buyer of Eataly North America, which sells panettone from around 20 different producers. In terms of ingredient variation, Borri says that while traditional Italian versions of panettone are still made from butter, some producers use a cheaper type of fat, like margarine, which also explains the lower prices.

panettone
Eataly sells Panettones from around 20 different producers, with flavors ranging from classic candied fruit and pistachio to dark chocolate and in sizes up to 10 kilograms.

Eataly

“It’s very difficult to make a good, high-quality product for a lot of people,” Borri says. “This is why even the three Michelin star chefs make their own panettone. It is a handcrafted product and you can make an amazing panettone if you use unique products. Overall, the skills of the chefs, the ingredients, and the process they use to make the panettone explain the price difference.

There is also a range of sizes. A standard panettone weighs one kilogram, but Eataly sells panettone in sizes up to 20 kilograms. Borri says the bigger the panettone, the more humid and airy it is inside.

the pope françois smells a panettone offered to him by a pastry chef
Pope Francis smells of a panettone offered to him by a Vatican pastry chef on December 19, 2018.

VINCENZO PINTO / AFPGetty Images

A Panettone festival in New York

Cristiano Rossi grew up in Italy and came up with the idea of ​​launching New York’s inaugural panettone festival after opening two Italian pastry shops in the city.

“I realized the Americans couldn’t get all the panettone we had in Italy and they think it’s just a sweet bread with raisins and candy, but in Italy we have panettone filled with cream. pistachio or chocolate or truffles or vin santo, ”says Rossi. . “Last Christmas I brought panettones from famous producers to America and sold over 500 in two days!

Festival

Courtesy

After that Rossi saw that there was a demand for premium panettone from top Italian chefs and decided to launch the New York Panettone Festival in Long Island City, which started last weekend and continues Dec. 18-19. The festival is free and open to the public. Panettones from chefs, including Massari, are available for sale, and the response last weekend was strong: 3,000 visitors attended and bought all the inventory, causing an early closure on Sunday.

Rossi plans to open an Italian gelateria, the Cafe Santa Chiara, in early 2022 on the ground floor of 52-41 Center Boulevard, a 44-story residential building in Hunters Point South, near the festival venue in Long Island City.

He said a new trend in Italy is to serve salted panettone with olive oil and guanciale and salt in place of sugar. It’s not yet clear if these will make an appearance at Rossi’s upcoming panettone festival.

Here are some of the best panettone you can buy online:

Confit Orange Grape Panettone

Panettone Amarena Cherry 17.6 oz

Traditional panettone

Sullivan Street Bakery
goldbelly.com

$ 55.00

Panettone Coffee

williams-sonoma.com

$ 49.95

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