Here we are again, with the summer coming to an end and Christmas fast approaching, the first panettones are starting to appear. Supermarkets have already set their Christmas aisles up with their own, and Google is full of online retailers selling them.
Panettone, the Italian Christmas cake that should be added to the Unesco Intangible heritage due to its worldwide appeal, it is now eaten all over the world, not just on Christmas day and it has moved beyond what we now call “Classico”, its original and nowadays, almost boring recipe, also known as Panettone Milanese, from Milan, where it was originally invented.
And whilst the Panettone shape has not changed, pastry chefs and chefs have taken the cake to an all new level. From the ingredients used to the baking process, there are plenty of options available for consumers, with prices starting at £3 and going all the way to £100 and above and due to their current status, it is not unusual to find artisan panettone in special boxes, from fashion designer to hand painted ones. Panettone has become much more than a cake, it is a status symbol. The industrially made panettones are only given as gifts to people because we have to, after all is Christmas. Everyone, and not just in Italy, is after the artisan panettone, and this demand, has made Panettone being produced all over Italy, with plenty of pasticcerie now making theirs using local ingredients so that there are thousands of panettones being sold.
But what is the difference between an artisan and an industrial panettone? To answer this question we first need to understand what a Panettone is. The Panettone is defined by the Italian law as a cake with the classic panettone shape, muffin, made with the following ingredients: flour, sugar, fresh eggs (with at least 4% of yolk), butter (at least 16%), dried grapes and candied fruit (at least 20%), yeast and salt. This is the recipe for the classic, traditional, Milanese panettone, for all other styles or fillings, the other ingredients are added as long as the base remain the same. The main difference between artisan and industrial panettone is in the use of preservatives. Industrial panettone tend to have them added, their shelf life is much longer, sometime a year. Artisan panettone don’t, they have a much shorter shelf life, depending on the style or filling of the panettone, it varies from one to a few months.
So, if the recipe is written in the law and all panettones must have, at least these ingredients, what is the difference between an artisan and industrial panettone and why such a big price difference? The main reason is in the quality of the ingredients. For all ingredients there is plenty of choices, from very cheap, low quality, to expensive high quality. Artisan pastry chefs always choose the highest quality ingredients, they never compromise on quality. Another difference is in the yeast used, artisan pastry chefs always use mother yeast instead of brewer’s yeast, and lastly, artisan pastry chef play and improve the “original” recipe, changing the percentage of the different ingredients, they don’t just use the minimum necessary as indicated by the law to call the cake “panettone”.
We do believe, and there are plenty of food critics that agree with us, that there is a substantial difference between an artisan and an industrial panettone, from its scent to its softness, with plenty of holes inside. Industrial panettone are often dry, with little or no holes, with low quality ingredients and little flavours. Industrial panettones are ok, their price is good, but try an artisan panettone and you will never go back, we believe that it is better to one artisan panettone this Christmas than not 3 or 4 industrial ones.
And the panettone is now vegan friendly, the first vegan panettone have been produced. The vegan panettone are still very rare and mainly an artisan affair. The butter is replaced with a vegetable alternative and by doing so, it is more difficult to produce a good quality panettone, it requires more skills, butter is a very important ingredient in the panettone’s recipe, even if vegan panettone could not legally be called as such because they do not contain butter.
Check our range
of artisan and vegan panettone or if you have tons of patience, why not try to make yours following our panettone