Made months in advance and hung upside down to preserve its shape, panettone is part cake, part bread, all sweet Italian Christmas tradition. Like the best breads, panettone begins with a mother yeast (lievito madre), natural, acidic, sourdough that gives this dessert its iconic dome-top shape. Indispensable to panettone’s making, lievito madre grows continually, taking on characteristics of its origin, or terroir. The yeast joins select flours of the highest quality, pure cane sugar, filtered water, farm-fresh European milk and butter, local honey, 100% pure Madagascar vanilla pods, free range eggs and whole nuts and fruits in a recipe that’s equal parts tradition and taste.
“Tradition and innovation”, “roots and evolution” and “substance and creativity” summarize the oxymoronic mission of Loison Panettone, a company that manages to stay artisanal even as it earns international notoriety. Born as a small wood-oven bakery, Loison Panettone began as a small workshop in Costabissara, a town on the outskirts of Vicenza, and became a well-established company whose product is in demand worldwide over 75 years (and three generations of Loisons) later.
Dario Loison joined the company in 1992 and eventually became its leader. Inspired by the Italian slow food and DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta – roughly, “protected designation of origin”) movements, Dario lives what Michael Pollan preaches: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Except in his case, it’s his great-grandfather: Tranquillo. Tranquillo Loison opened his bakery in 1938, and soon saw his bread limited by World War II rations. Post-war, the economy improved and increased demand for sweets led Tranquillo to begin producing focacce with figs and raisins, a repertoire his son, Alessandro Loison, expanded with wedding cakes and fresh pastries. In 1955, Alessandro began specializing in panettone and pandoro cakes, and Dario, his son, has brought Loison Panettone’s lievito madre to international notoriety, one cylindrical creation at a time.
All of Pusateri’s panettone producers forgo the use of artificial flavours, ingredients, colours and preservatives. The density of the dairy, butter and sugar and of course the natural yeast makes this dessert shelf stable. Leftovers can be enjoyed grilled with jam (marmellata) or a hazelnut spread, baked into bread pudding or soaked in egg and milk and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar for the most decadent Ital-French toast you’ve ever served.