Panettone: The good, the bad and the pricey

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Panettone is having A Moment. The Italian sweet bread has increased in popularity every holiday season, and this year, a San Francisco-baked version even landed on Oprah Winfrey’s list of “Favorite Things for 2018.”

So we decided a blind tasting was in order. We put that version, called From Roy, up against some venerable Italian brands, another Bay Area-baked cake and some wild new flavors (well, wild as far as panettone goes).

But we didn’t ask just panettone fanatics to join. We enlisted all manner of sweet-tooth colleagues, from the office foodies with snarky opinions to cubicle-mates who’d never heard of panettone, much less tasted it.

Here are their views, along with pricing and “where to buy” information, with an expanded list of stores at the bottom. Opinions were all over the place — on one grading sheet, the comment “too orangey” was followed by one that said “not enough orange” — so we were able to determine only a first-place dessert, along with some “highly ranked” ones, some “they loved it or they hated it” versions and a couple of also-rans. (As one colleague said, “This is what happens when the Food Department invites the hoi polloi to a tasting.”)

Still, this should give you guidance about which panettone to buy for the hostesses, grandmas and name-droppers on your gift list.

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Manresa Bread’s Triple Chocolate and Candied Orange Panettone: Scoring the most first-place votes was this trendy, baked-in-Los Gatos panettone made by Avery Ruzicka, head baker for Manresa Bread, which supplies bread to the Michelin-starred Manresa restaurant and its three bakeries. Let’s face it: You can’t go wrong with chocolate (it’s Valrhona), even if tasters weren’t sure if this needed more candied orange or less. The dough is not as light as a traditional panettone, but tasters adored the super-crunchy, sugar crystal-flecked dome on this one.

Price: $45 at the new Manresa Bread Cafe in downtown Campbell. Also available at the Los Gatos and Los Altos bakeries and online at (Call bakeries first for availability.)


From Roy’s Candied Orange Raisin Panettone: Coming in right behind the Manresa version was the San Francisco panettone baked by the company that caught Oprah’s attention. Her folks liked his Banana-Caramel Panettone, but

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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