February 3, 2023


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What is panettone and who controls it?  The gold rush continues

What is panettone and who controls it? The gold rush continues

Who owns the panettone?

In the past decade, the classic Christmas game has broken into its Italian borders and gained worldwide fame. Like burnt Basque cheesecake and French croissant, panettone is being tested and transformed far from home, with new flavors like black sesame, Aperol spritz and cacio e pepe. There are Japanese versions brewed with sake and Brazilian ones stuffed with dulce de leche; Mini supermarket $2 and truffles about $200.

When the standard was set, probably in 15th-century Milan, panettone was a domed sweet bread with a soft, shiny golden crumb, scented and studded with candied fruit. It belongs to the same luxury holiday traditions as the German one stolenpolish chalk And the British Fruits: once-a-year treats from stores of expensive butter and eggs, refined flour, sugar and spices from Asia, and fruit preserves from the Mediterranean. Chocolate bits were added later, and regional ingredients such as lemons on the Amalfi Coast and hazelnuts in Piedmont.

When Italy was unified, panettone became a national symbol of Christmas; Rolled and extravagantly wrapped loaves became status symbols and popular gifts. But with the advent of commercial baking, the product inside the boxes became increasingly dry and flat-tasting, with cheaper ingredients like candied butternut squash and milk powder.

The sudden rise in esteem for panettone revives interest in the bread and sparks new conflicts among those who make it. Disagreements broke out between fundamentalists and radicals, between traditionalists and modernists, and between Italy and the rest of the world. Battles have broken out in labor unions, legislatures, and across the Internet, where there is an enthusiastic global community of sourdough bakers Weigh In things like hydration, acidity, almonds vs. hazelnuts.

Panettone follows the arc that pizza follows: food that isn’t considered particularly interesting in the overseas home hunt, is adopted by foreign artisans, then returns to great fanfare, said Laura Lazzaroni, a journalist and baking consultant.

“We never really fell in love with pizza, but we didn’t think much of it,” she said. “Then people started coming home from America saying, ‘I had better pizza in California than — insert my hometown name in Italy here — and we need to do something about it. “

Now that panettone’s reputation has risen, so has the stakes for Italian bakers, who are vying not only for ownership of the tradition, but also for market share. Pastry trade group Conpait estimates the market will be around $650 million this year, with a 10 percent growth in “artigianale” over “industriali” products. Best lists, prizes and contests like new Coppa del Mondo del Panettone Spreaded.

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“This is a world championship, not a church bake sale,” said Giuseppe Pivaretti, who started the World Cup in 2019.

The fight for control of panettone has been raging for 20 years, ever since Italian exporters raised alarms that foreign-made versions were taking over the global market.

Panettone has long been popular in Argentina, Peru, and Brazil, where Italian food arrived with immigrant populations in the late 19th century. Many of the panettones sold in American supermarkets are made in South America, mainly by giants buduku And the Donofrio.

Unlike tomatoes from San Marzano or mortadella from Bologna, panettone from Milan is not a local specialty that is protected under the EU’s labeling system. Luigi Piasettoa leading baker in Padua, leads an effort to have panettone declared part of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World” by UNESCO, as a Neapolitan pizza It was in 2017.

In 2005, the Italian government approved Laws that specifies the ingredients, and acknowledged that “natural fermentation” is required to produce the “Made in Italy” labeled panettone. But the code does not distinguish between wild yeast and cultured yeast, between organic flour and bleach, and between fruit sweetened with sugar and glucose—distinctions that are becoming increasingly important to bakers and customers.

Like all breads, traditional panettone has been naturally leavened, giving it a taste, flavor, and texture that is lost in translation to industry, much like the transition from aged cheddar to American cheese.

The best of them combine the fluffiness of cotton candy, the creaminess of French toast, the gentle pull of a fresh donut and the buttery smoothness of pound cake. Modern bakers are now trying to recapture these qualities, despite — or because of — the notorious challenges of making panettone from scratch.

“It’s the hardest product to make,” Pevaretti said. Panettone is not a recipe; It’s a lifestyle.”

Eugenio my patha nationally respected master of Brescia (his panettone is called simply, “L’immortale”) said that it takes 10 years to train an employee to do it right.

Massari’s American attorney, Roy Schwartzappel, put it another way: “Pannettone is the top of the mountain” for bread.

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Two separate doughs are required, each a tough mix of high-gluten flours to provide structure, sustain prolonged fermentation and absorb incredibly high amounts of fat and sugar. The first dough is slowly fermented to a certain level of acidity, which takes between 12 to 24 hours, depending on microbial activity, and requires constant monitoring of temperature and humidity.

Despite the high skill barrier, hundreds of individual panettone producers have flocked to a bewildering new array of competitions. Not to be confused with the Coppa del Mondo de Panettone Panettone World Championshipor with Panettone day The competition held in Milan, with Tenzon Del Panettone (Duel Panettone) in Parma, or with the Eminent Citizen Artist Dale Panetton Competition. Japanese panettone appreciation Communitywhich was founded in 2020, held its first tournament last month.

said Giorgia Grillo, whose pannettone has often been a finalist in Nero Vaniglia Pastry shop in Rome. “There are a lot of tournaments.”

The Coppa del Mondo is the only major building outside of Italy, though not far from the outside: Mr. Piffaretti’s bakery It is located in Lugano, Switzerland, about 50 miles from Milan. However, his competition seeks to expand the scope of the panettone, allowing entries from countries such as the United States, Spain, Algeria and France. This year, a round of the competition took place in Singapore, home to many of Asia’s most prestigious culinary schools. (Italians still win the most titles, and cooking schools and hotel chains have started flying winners to teach workshops in places like Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai.)

Although each contest requires bakers to comply with the 2005 Italian law, other rules are often influenced by sponsors, such as producers of Agrimontana fruit or Dallagiovanna flour, which require contestants to use their products. (Like Italian soccer players, Italian pastry chefs often wear uniforms plastered with sponsor logos.) These competitions are scorned by many champions, like Mr. Piacito, who uses only his own flour blend and a 90-year-old starter.

He and Mrs. Grillo belong to the Confederation of Militant Sourdough Owners, W.L.L Accademia dei Maestri del Lievito Madre e del Panettone (Masters Academy of Sourdough and Panettone). Its members broke away from the larger Accademia dei Maestri Pasticciere (Academy of Masters in Pastry) in 2020 on the question of whether panettone can be fermented with added yeast or only with natural fermentation, called “lievito madre”. the head of the group , Claudio GattiHe called it “the only possible way to make a real Italian panettone.”

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High-end pastry shops and design houses such as Gucci And the fornasetti It has long dominated the global market for artisan panettone. Small artisan bakeries are now trying to get in, with popular flavors like Nutella, prestige ingredients like melted Belgian butter and Madagascar vanilla bean, and new technologies. Oliveri 1882in Vicenza, makes not only his prized classics but also a limited “super classic”, with three batters and four days fermentation. conclusionin Verona, it’s folded into candied orange and lemon paste along with traditional peel cuts.

The American Panettone Revolution is leading up to now Mr. Schwartzappelwho baked at Balthazar, Bouchon & Pierre’s Bakery its me In Paris, where panettone is popular. He became smitten, describing his first bite as “a harmless, delicious cloud”.

“I hadn’t thought about it before,” he said.

But he found that he could think of nothing else. He moved to Brescia, Italy, to study under Mr. Massari. In 2006, Mr. Shvartzapel returned with two goals, both fanciful: to open a multi-panettone bakery, and to take the panettone beyond Christmas, with fresh fruit and seasonal flavours. a little later the bakery, from Roywhich opened in San Francisco in 2015, the Panettone organ landed on Oprah’s favorites list, and a star was born.

Although Mr. Schwartzappel’s innovations are widely respected in Italy, they have brought more drama to the panettone debate. Like many modern sourdough bakers, he feeds “open crumbs” with visible air pockets and gluten skins that make his creations tall and bulky. On social media, Mr. Schwarzappel’s alveoli have become a global talking point.

Some bakers, such as Mr. Pevaretti, feel that this loose appearance makes the panettone inauthentic; Others think it is a return to tradition.

Last year, baking consultant Ms. Lazzaroni curated a museum exhibit about the evolution of Italian food from 1970 to 2050, including three types of panettone: one from the industrial producer Alemagna, one made by Mr. Massari and one from Mr. Shvartzapel.

“Panettone is an excellent example of how Italian taste can go back and forth, contamination and then rebirth,” she said. “It would be a mistake to see it as something that only belongs to us.”