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.
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.
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.
- Michael DiCamillo