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  • 2019 Panettone and Italian Christmas Cakes

2019 Panettone and Italian Christmas Cakes

Without question the most celebrated Italian Christmas Cake is Panettone and it is one of the triumphs of the Italian baker’s art. No traditional Italian Christmas celebration would be complete without a Panettone.  Curiously, this is not a “cake” in the classic sense, as it uses a natural “mother-leavening” to reach its dizzying dramatic heights and airy texture. It is, however, so rich in eggs, butter, dried fruit, and raisins that the term “cake” still best describes it.

Our collection of panettone includes five different variations to choose from. The original Panettone recipe is always credited to the bakers of the city of Milan. Its history is ancient and can be to traced to Roman times but it was the Milanese bakers of the late 19th and early 20th  twentieth century who perfected this complicated and delicious cake-like bread, which requires days not hour to make.
 
 
Our Milanese Panettone or “High” panettone is the classic formula with a distinctive tall domed top, sweet-smelling, rich in eggs, butter, candied fruit and raisins.

As with most good ideas, the Panettone spread throughout Italy, and in the neighboring Piedmont region, a new variation developed: The Panettone Piedmontese which is lower in height and wider in circumference, but still rich in eggs, butter, and loaded with candied fruit and raisins. The real departure from the Milanese version is the addition of the baked on hazelnut, almond studded icing “la Glassa” that covers the domed top. This sweet crust adds immeasurably to the cake like quality and has been our most popular Panettone.

We have three other variations on the Pimontese Panettone. Our Muscato Panettone has, in addition to the rich batter, the addition of Muscato wine.

 

And our Chocolate Panettone has replaced the candied fruit with chocolate chips.

  Finally, we now offer a Personal Panettone which is one-serving and is used for Christmas table favors.

Pandoro or literally “Golden Bread” is another Italian Christmas cake-like bread and a tradition which developed in the Veneto region’s city of Verona.  The dramatic, tall, almost crown-like shape of this cake-bread may also explain why it is sometimes referred to as “Royal Bread”. Like Panettone it is ancient in origin and was reserved for the nobility as it is rich in precious ingredients: eggs, sugar, and butter. Imagine, if you will a light, air, buttery, sweet- smelling cake. Besides the dramatic difference in shape from a Panettone the biggest difference is the absence of any dried fruit or raisins. Our Pandoro comes with an envelope of vanilla scented powdered sugar which is traditionally dusted over the cake before cutting and is meant to resemble the Italian Alps in winter.  Italians often debate on whether they prefer Pandoro or Panettone best.
Panforte Margherita is named for Queen Margherita, the first queen of the united Italy. Its name literally means “strong bread” and traces its origins to the Tuscan city of Siena. Panforte is enjoyed all year long and is not limited to Christmas celebrations like Panettone and Pandoro. It has an ancient history and is often cited as being originally created for the Crusaders on their long and perilous journeys to the Holy Land. This dense, almond-studded cake is made with the highest quality orange peel, honey, and spices. It is quite possibly the mother of all fruitcakes. It has excellent keeping qualities and high food value, which made it a perfect traveling food for the Crusaders. It is now popular all over Europe when served with a cheese course.

Baba Rum are small, baby brioche cakes that are first baked then soaked in a rum alcohol syrup.  Infused with this rum syrup these moist petite cakes are the mother of all liquor cakes. This centuries old Neapolitan traditional dessert is completely authentic and expertly-preserved in jars and ready to bring to the table. Intoxicatingly delicious, this is clearly a dessert only for adults.

            The origins of the Neapolitan baba are in dispute.  Many point to other parts of Europe as the source but all agree that these moist cakes of Naples eclipsed what came before and have never been equaled.

Torta di Frutta  is a Christmas fruitcake the Di Camillo Family has been making for over fifty years. It was, in fact, the very first product that we began shipping to the Gourmet stores in New York City in the late 1970s. It is a perfect marriage of our dual-ancestry as its shape and texture are reminiscent of Tuscany-Panforte but with decidedly North American fruitcake ingredients. It is bursting with dates, whole California walnuts, sweet glacé cherries, and just enough cake batter to hold it all together. Cake-and-confection merge into one in this dense, rich cake, beautifully presented in a see-through, hand-tied box.

 

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