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The 2007 Pannetone Roundup

Okay all,
Since the 2006 thread on this subject went over so well, I have decided to ressurect the subject. Here is the place to tell wich pannetones have left you extactic an which have left you flat. Premade, boxed pannetones and fresh backed ones are both valid candidates but please specify which you are talking about. Ironically in my experiance the few bakery produced, non-boxed ones I've tried have always seriosly underwhelmed me. Okay everyone, ready, begin!!!

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  1. By far the best pannetone I have ever tasted came from Williams Sonoma at Christmas. They come in a decorative tin and have chestnuts in them. One year I went in and bought 5 of them to give away. I am now banned from Williams Sonoma by my dh as only one of them exited my house. The rest went in my tummy. Linda

    6 Replies
    1. re: Linda VH

      Yeah a lot of people reccomended the Sorini Pannetone (The actual baker's name of the willams sonoma distributed version) last year and tended to also sing its praises. The only reason I didnt go out an get one is that I personally am in the minority who prefer their pannetone without chesnuts (also without marzipan or chocolate coatings or red wine manintaion of the rasins.) I understand that in italy the chesnuts are supposed to be an aftertought; that the are used to fill the cavity in the cake left after two weeks of having its innards ripped out for breakfasts.

      1. re: jumpingmonk

        Any pannetone that I've had since the Sorini ones were underwhelming - the candied chesnuts and the texture is so wonderful. I actually worked at Williams-Sonoma one Christmas when I was living in the midwest, and the manager would lure us in to work on early and very cold Sunday mornings by plying us with Sorini pannetone french toast with the cinnamon-maple and/or passion fruit syrup.

        1. re: jazzy77

          I went to Williams Sonoma yesterday looking for it - and can't seem to find it! : (
          So far we have been staying with what Costco carries. How does it compare to the others? I have tried other ones but they are not as good, so I have kind of stay w Costco, although now that there is a Whole Foods nearby I am considering trying theirs as well.

          1. re: tarepanda

            The Whole Foods version is so-so not terrible but not all that good either if there's a Trader Joe's near you you might want to go with thiers-among chain-store house-brand versions, it's probably the best. Just get it in regular not cranberry.

            1. re: jumpingmonk

              Oh, I've never had a panettone nearly as good as this, though I'd look to, as it's very expensive (the Williams-Sonoma version, that is). My best friend is a TJ's manager but we both agree their's doesn't hold a candle to the W-S. I'd love to find a recipe for something this good.

      2. re: Linda VH

        Another vote for Williams Sonoma Sorini Panettone. It is wonderful stuff and my family can't get enough of it.

      3. Just as a point of order, I believe the correct spelling is: panettone...

        1. I am one of those who prefer Pandoro, the other sweet Italian Christmas bread, to Panettone. For those unfamiliar with Pandoro, it is a cakier, buttery bread that comes in a high, conical shape and is golden in color. I typically go out of my way to find the Bauli brand- in the big pink hatbox- because I think it is the best brand avaialble in the U.S. (though not easy to find in the NY-area). Does anyone have any brands of Pandoro that they suggest?

          HOWEVER, for all you Panettone lovers, I strongly urge you to look into a product by the name of "Panbriacone". Panbriacone (the name is a play on words that implies "drunkard bread"), is a Tuscan artisan panettone-style bread made by Pasticceria Bonci. They stud their most succulently sweet tissues of Panettone with moist sultanas and then *soak the whole thing in sweet wine*.... it is a flaky, soft, buttery delight with a sweet taste of fruit and the most delicious aroma (the special smell of Italy at Christmas will fill your kitchen instantly upon opening the package- I promise). The alcohol flavor is slight but distinctive, just enough to make the bread special. I hunt this bread down every year since I first discovered it in '03. The only shop I have ever seen it in is Dean & Deluca, but I understand that A.G. Ferrari online is carrying it now, as well. I've already got my supply for this year- I bought four boxes (two as gifts, one for Christmas Eve and one just for me!) on the very day that D&D first put out their display last week (after stopping in two weeks ago to ask when would be a good time to come back), so I feel safe encouraging everyone to go and get theirs! It comes in a very attractive gift box, and costs around $36.00. Check out:
          I think they have an English version of the site, too.
          To my knowledge, there is no better Italian Christmas bread available in the U.S.

          12 Replies
          1. re: vvvindaloo

            I'm more of a Pandoro girl myself. It's Xmas brekkie in our family, preferably toasted. Some relatives even put Nutella on it, though I think that's overkill.

            1. re: piccola

              I'm with you- toasted is nice, but a good pandoro needs no embellishment! Do you prefer a specific brand of Pandoro, or do you buy a locally-baked fresh one?

              1. re: vvvindaloo

                I wish I knew where to get a fresh Pandoro! We usually get the Motta because it's so easy to find, or the Paluani. The Bauli is really good, but rare.

                1. re: piccola

                  Do you have a preference between those two? I am looking to do some comparing this winter, and am choosing my brands. I'd appreciate any opinions on them. Have you ever tried Balocco? I am curious about Corsini, but it seems like I'll definitely have to mail order that one... yes, I'm obsessed :)

                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                    You know, because we only buy one a year, I haven't had the chance to compare them side-by-side (but I'm thinking I should...).

                    I know there's one that has a slightly bitter "crust," which I don't like as much. Not sure which it is, though.

                    Haven't tried the Balocco - please tell me how it works out!

                    1. re: piccola

                      thanks, piccola... i'll post my results/impressions

            2. re: vvvindaloo

              In NY, Garden of Eden always carries the Bauli brand Pandoro and Panettone. They have a large assortment of artisanal Panettone and Pandoro in gorgeous packaging, great for gifts.

              I found some really delicious Panettone last year at Ceriello's in Grand Central Market..

              1. re: Fleur

                Thanks, Fleur! Are you sure they always have it? Coincidentally, I whizzed by the one on 23rd in a cab last night and hastily scanned the window displays looking for it (its become a compulsion!). No dice. But I know there's another store on 14th, so I'll give that a try. Oh, the pandoro you bought at Ceriello- was it Tre Marie? I bought one from them a couple of years ago (much more expensive) and it was hard and dry... ;( But I figured it was more due to storage conditions than brand- I know they are supposed to be very good. Thanks again for the tip.

                1. re: vvvindaloo

                  I'll walk by Garden of Eden over the weekend, and I will ask the manager.

                  They usually have a huge display, at least they did last year.

                  The Tre Marie is the brand of Panettone at Ceriello. ! I bought them after News Years on sale and used them to make Panettone Bread Pudding which is always delicious.

                  I am also going to check Fairway.

                  1. re: Fleur

                    Fleur- if you happen to be going there for yourself, then I'd really appreciate your checking around real quick to see if they are carrying any Bauli this year... otherwise, please don't go out of your way for me! Thanks again for your help!

                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                      I was at Fairway today and they have an entire aisle piled high with Panettone and Pandoro. Three sizes of Bauli at ridiculously low prices.

                      Commercial Panettone is of varying quality. Last year we had the Sullivan Street Bakery Panettone...much,much more expensive, and not really any fresher, or any better.

                      Fairway also had piles of Panforte di Siena, one of my Christmas favorites. But they only have the Biano, not the Nero.

                      I bought a few Panettoner for Christmas. They make delicious Bread Pudding and French Toast.

                      For all of you who are eating your way through Panettone, and it's only December 8, aren't you worried about all that fattening stuff so soon before Christmas?

                      1. re: Fleur

                        thank you (1st para)
                        yes (last para)

            3. My favorite Panettone comes from Emporio Rulli in Larkspur, CA, just north of San Francisco in Marin County. I bought it for years when I lived locally, and I buy it on-line and have it shipped to me now. I've given it as gifts and now have people asking me when their panettone is coming. http://www.rulli.com

              1 Reply
              1. re: DiningDiva

                I agree Emporio Rulli make great pannetone- four kinds.I like the Paradiso pannetone with chocolate shavings the best. Here's a report about the different types.

              2. Panera is selling it fresh baked in their stores nationwide. Less than $8. Worth a try. Worst case, it'll make fancy French Toast...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cathy

                  I'm glad someone mentioned the Panera panettone! I tried it as a sample the other day and ended up buying two. Very tasty, but I'm not sure how it measures up to other more traditional Italian brands.

                  I am not familiar with most of the panettone brands mentioned, but I think the Panera one at $8 is definitely worth a try.

                2. I am a huge fan of Williams Sonomas Pannetone. I love the chestnuts in it. So much better than candied fruit pieces.
                  I just have a difficult time paying $34 for one.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                    I've never tried WS version because of the price. I'll order a $100 turkey, but for some reason, $34 for pannetone seems to be too much. But I'll get one this year due to the praise.

                    I usually buy TJ's, which is quite good, but not so good that I have to buy it. I usually find these sweetened yeasted holiday breads never live up to my expectations.

                  2. Funny thing to find this discussion. We did our annual trip to Williams-Sonoma on The Plaza today to pick up our Christmas panettone. I've just gone in and counted tins -- this is #9 for us. Tradition has it that we open it during our weekly family night gathering so that everyone gets a first whiff. Then it's closed up until Christmas Eve. The other tradition is the argument among the five children over who gets this year's tin. The answer is simple: We keep it.

                    Perugina's panettone is actually pretty good, though not in the same class as the Sorini cake. Perugina has in the past produced a 3.5 ounce version that was great for gift-giving, but I haven't seen it for a couple of years.

                    It seems everyone is getting into the panettone production act. Our local high-end baker, Farm to Market, does their version, which is a bit dense, but good. Novices should look carefully at the packaging before buying. Brazil is not a good source. Sorry. Novices should also shy away from baking their own, unless you are quite adventurous. Once was enough for us.

                    The last piece of panettone is always cherished.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Konbit

                      Yeah, I know what you mean. I tried baking my own once; wound up with something the approximate density of a bowling ball. To do it right you proably need to be a dab hand with yeastwork. Also I undestand that many of the factory pannetones rely on biga (sorta like sourdough starter) so that making a pannetone almost requires that you appretice yourself to a previos baker and recive some of his biga when you turn journeyman. BTW its not just Brazil, in my experiance, ANY pannetone that hails from South America is sawdust dry. (Plus I'm not a big fan of the habit of using glace cherries instead of candied citron peel.)

                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                        I am looking for some in the San Antonio area. we just got a Panera here, anyone tried their version? Other suggestions have been Whole foods, World Market or TJMAXX, any ideas?

                        1. re: SAnativegirl

                          They sold the last fresh one in front of me Saturday morning. Guess I will have to order one just to be certain to get one. I hve the 2007 holiday pre-order form in front of me.

                          Made French toast from one from Italy, sold at a Mexican Market for $4, yesterday...

                        2. re: jumpingmonk

                          I tried making it one year as well but the ingredients are all pricey and after not such a stellar result I think I will stick to buying our yearly loaf. If made well using quality butter,fruits,flour,spices it makes sense to be a costlier bread when purchased.

                          1. re: jumpingmonk

                            Hey, hey, hey ... stop dissing Brazil. You made me break into my Bauducco Panettone from Brazil and it is excellent and not dry at all. They use Sunmaid raisins and a few non-traditional fruits that you wouldn't notice without reading the ingrediants (crystalized mango & orange), but it is mostly a generous amount of golden and regular raisins ... good babka-like texture. They do use margarine in addition to butter and there are a few preservatives. It was 99 cents for one of those small single-serving deals (2.28 oz) at Grocery Outlet.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I was by Garden of Eden a couple of weeks ago, and I dont think I saw any Bauli's, though Tre Maria's were in abondance. The catch with Maria is that they make so many versions it can get a little bewildering. I am also of the opion that in the case of Maria's the is actuall a difference in flavor depeding of wether you get one in a tin, in a box or the paper wrapper (I think paper is the best, followed by box)

                            2. re: jumpingmonk

                              Jumpingmonk, bite your tongue. In Argentina they call it pan dulce and it's full of candied fruit, raisins, and pine nuts. Very fine. Is traditionally served with hard cider.

                          2. i am just about halfway thru a trader joes panettone, and it's pretty decent. i am sure there are better, and i'm probably gonna buy one before christmas...but to quench my urge now i resorted to this one. at $5.99 it's a deal.

                            1. Madi Gran Panettone from Costco is pretty good. $6.99 for 2lb 3 1/4 oz. Pic attached.

                              1. i just finished the TJ's panettone this morning and darn if i didn't run into the 35 oz Bauli versions at home goods for $9.99 apiece.....i got em both. they had two other italian brands as well but the names escape me. cannot wait to try the bauli.