Updated: May 6
Enter into Google "Why is Panettone" and the top two search results will be "so hard to make" and "so expensive". And well, the first informs the second. Ask any baker - do you make Panettone - and you're likely to receive a slow, negative shake of the head. As one of the most difficult and intricate breads to make, it is considered by many bakers to be the holy grail accomplishment. Done well, and you end up with a bread that is so soft as to be feathery in texture, with a supremely open crumb, and a height that vaults well above the paper encasing it. Their shelf life is weeks long on the counter - months in the fridge. A delicate, yet hearty treat made only for the most special of occasions. And as a baker and panettone lover - I can attest, there's a lot of really terrible panettone out there. Most options available in a store are some version of a yeasted, sourdough-ish brioche studded with never enough candied fruit to be satisfying. Panettone definitely follows the adage, if it's cheap, it isn't good, and if it's good, it isn't cheap. (You can check out the most popular mail order, year-round panettone in the country HERE and see what we mean!)
The classic panettone use only sourdough - but with a very special starter called lievito madre, or pasta madre - a firm starter that's rolled into a spiral to help keep the pressure and firmness in tact. Then there are two dough builds, the "primo impasto" and "secondo impasto". Not only the temperature, but the pH of the dough must be monitored and strictly controlled throughout the four day process - and if ANYTHING goes awry at any point - the entire batch must be scrapped. So why make it? Bakers who have endured the years long struggle to perfect their Panettone in spite of the odds will tell you - Pride. The pride of accomplishing something so incredibly difficult is unmatched. There are so few bakers, and even fewer small, artisan bakers in the US, who make Panettone, even fewer still who make it well, that there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of knowing you beat the odds to achieve the holy grail of baking.
To learn more about the entire process, we couldn't say it better than Olga Kousteridi who was featured on the Wordloaf blog hosted by Andrew Janjigian. Her step by step instructions, tips and straightforward storytelling is everything you need to know about Panettone and then some. Read the story HERE - it's time well spent!
Our Panettone is a monthly special - we think you should treat yourself more than once a year - that makes even an ordinary day a special occasion. Check out the current pre-order situation HERE and find out what wildly delicious flavor we're baking up this month.