Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas: panettone

Ahhh, panettone. I *adore* panettone. I'd eat panettone all year long.

Thank goodness for my waistline, this typically Milanese "fruit cake"--not too sweet, not too many bits of candied fruit, like Goldilock's porridge, it's "just right"--is offered only around Christmastime....More......

It's not easy to make, either.

Just like any yeast egg bread, it has to be kneaded and punched and raised and kneaded and punched and raised. Any home bread maker knows two cycles of this probably will suffice for regular bread. Not for our Mr. Panettone. It gets kneaded and punched and raised for three whole days.

Then just the right amount of plump raisins and small bits of citrus-based candied fruit are scattered in. Word to the original-recipe-fans: NO sugary bits, or almonds, on top! (Save the sugary bits for the Milanese Easter time "colomba," or "dove," sweet bread, which has a similar consistency, but the eggy bread has been slightly flavored with orange, and the candied bits are only orange...though I brush the sugary bits off...they're really too much.)

Don't like fruit cake? I adore it, so I think you're crazy right from the start, but I'd suggest that you at least try panettone ("big bread") before turning up your nose. Really. There is so much sweet bread and so few candied fruit bits that even you might like it.

In fact, if you're brave enough to try to make it, here's the web site with a recipe (which I haven't tried...*I'm* not that brave) AND the photo I used for my accompanying needlepoint design (my own photo was too big, and just wouldn't upload into my StitchPainter needlepoint design making program):

THE RECIPE, by "paola77":

Oops, I just realized that the recipe will be in Italian. If someone asks for it in English, I'll translate (this also is an encouragment to read my blogs, and comment...silly I may be, but not stupid!).

Don't want to make it? If you're in Italy, the variety of brands is confusing. What to choose?

I love doing taste tests, so a few years ago, I surprised my wonderfully patient, adoring and adored husband with a panettone taste test.

I bought one of the cheapest I could find (a "house brand" of one of the less expensive supermarkets in town), a middle price range, but still produced on a large industrial scale kind (I'm even going to tell you the brand and kind name: "Motta," their "Ricetta originale/Original recipe" kind), and--the catalyst for the taste test--the supposedly superior kind--costing five times as much as the Motta one (YIKES!)--supposedly baked by the local upscale bakery.

Rigorous taste test methods were applied.

Equally sized slices placed on exactly the same kind of plates, with the name of the brand taped to the bottom of the plate. I closed my eyes, and mixed the plates around until--even if I had wanted to keep track of which was which--I couldn't tell one from the other, then brought them to the table.

Mr. Smirky thought he'd be able to identify HIS most expensive one right away.

The least expensive one stuck out like a sore thumb to both of us, even just to the eye: such unappetizing pallor, such paucity of raisins and candied bits, so greasy, while the taste was definitely not worth the calories (and panettone is choc-o-bloc full of them, so choose wisely, I say!). It was even a bit yucky.

The other two--may I have a drum roll, please?--were EXACTLY ALIKE, in appearance, consistency and taste!

Even I had expected the really expensive one would be at least a teentsy bit better, but I craftily hid my surprise, and thoroughly enjoyed my "I told you so" Home Economics lesson.

So, from that time on, and I've tasted other brands at other people's houses (eh, just not up to snuff), ours is a "Motta Ricetta originale" house. (Remember, folks, I get no kick-backs of any kind...this is honest freely offered praise; the only payback is sharing the exquisite tastiness with you.)

So, just where did this marvelous gift from the Cosmos come from?

There are conflicting stories about the origin of panettone, and bread was broken and shared around family tables and fireplaces everyday and for special occasions, such as Christmas (various Christian allusions are evident), for centuries (millennia), but the birth of this kind of "big bread" as a Milanese Christmas desert is commonly believed to have taken place during the reign of Ludovico "il Moro" Sforza at the end of the 15th century. (He's a fascinating mix of cunning, treachery, ineptitude, courage, culture, beautiful eyes and one of the biggest honkers you've ever seen in your entire life deserving of posts all his own...yet another promise for future posts.)

Want to needlepoint a design for your personal non-commercial purposes of a panettone with Xmas-y bits thrown in? Here's my needlepoint design based on the image I found on Paola77's recipe page:

I snapped MY picture for you, yesterday, 24 December 2010....There's no beautifully arranged slice because I ate it!

Merry Christmas to all!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...