Arden & Amici, a brand that aims to bring the best of Italian baked goods to the UK, provide us with tips on how to serve panettone this Christmas.
There are various legends explaining the origins of this much-loved Italian treat. One example comes from the origin of the world ‘panettone’. In the 15th century, during a Christmas celebration at the court of of Duke Ludovico, the chef accidently burned the dessert. This left the chef worried as the Duke still expected a dessert to be served to his guests. A scullery boy named Toni helped the chef by offering him a sweet bread he had made from leftover dough and candied fruits. This bread was served to the guests instead and was loved by everyone, resulting in the bread being named ‘Pan De Toni’—hence the name panettone.
See also: Food for Thought
Working with long-standing amici (the Italian word for friends) to find the best examples of Italian baking, Arden & Amici have encapsulated the Italians’ love of food, friends and sharing in all of their products. The secret to good panettone is a unique recipe and method. Arden & Amici have perfected this in the last five decades with their own panettone, where their story started in a small baker’s shop in Turin, Italy.
During the early sixties, friends Vincenzo, Antonio and Bruno quickly built a reputation for the quality of their pastries and panettone. They soon decided to build their first bakery in an old convent: the result was truly divine and their panettone was enjoyed all over Italy and beyond. The recipe for their panettone demands that the cake is made exclusively using a natural sourdough that is referred to as ‘Mother Yeast’. The sourdough is a live organism, which has been reproducing itself since 1974. It feeds on water and flour and ‘breathes’ in air from the environment—it is these characteristics that make the dough so unique.
Their sons and daughters now run the bakery and their passion for quality lives on as they carefully nurture that all-important ‘Mother Dough’ by hand, every single day, just as their fathers have done for the last 50 years. The whole process is intricate, complex and steeped in tradition but the result is a wonderful panettone that is distinctly soft, with a characteristic taste.
See also: Slow Food
How to enjoy panettone this Christmas
Panettone is the perfect gift for friends and a great alternative to the heavier cakes and puddings that we normally associate with Christmas.
It is usually served in slices, as we would do with cake, but it is the accompaniments that truly make it special. The Italians will eat panettone at any time of day served with an espresso—at Christmas time in the UK it can be a delicious substitute for a heavy English breakfast. When served with a nice chilled glass of prosecco, the fine bubbles of this Italian sparkling wine make it the ideal pairing for a Christmas or New Year’s morning indulgence.
Later in the day, perhaps after lunch as a dessert, serve it as they do in some regions of Italy with crema di mascarpone: a cream made from mascarpone, eggs, dried or candied fruits and a sweet liqueur such as amaretto. If mascarpone cheese is unavailable, zabaglione can be used as a substitute.
Switch the drier prosecco accompaniment for a sweeter sparkling wine, like Moscato d’Asti, for an extravagant afternoon snack or pair the panettone with any of the Italian sweet dessert wines for an indulgent after dinner treat.
See also: Introduction to the World of Prosecco
Our thanks to Arden & Amici for their assistance in writing this article. The Arden & Amici Italian bakery range also features a variety of delicious sweet biscuits including Biscotti, Canestrelli and Cantuccini, as well as both soft and crunchy Amaretti. All of these sweet treats can be paired with coffee and cocktails, or be used to make enticing desserts. Arden & Amici Panettone comes in a variety of sizes and flavours including Classic, Chocolate and a luxurious Prosecco edition perfect for the festive season.
Their tips on how to serve pannettone this Christmas will be a delicious addition for Christmas parties, read more on The Master Chefs for sweet gift ideas perfect for the festive season.