Panettone is a traditional Italian cake with a sourdough base (referred to as the mother yeast), and an open, light, yielding texture. Traditionally risen slowly over a few days, panettone is baked in a tubular mould that results in a dome-shaped top and good height. Classic panettone contains candied citrus and raisins (in Italy this is taken as seriously as any classic recipe), but there’s a yearly competition that gives bakers a chance to get creative with flavours. In the UK, popularity has grown over the past few years, and some panettone brands have even made specialist flavours for the UK market – it appears we are fonder of caramel than other countries. Here are some of our favourite panettones for 2020.
Best panettones to buy
Waitrose & Partners apricot & peach bellini panettone (500g)
Winner in its category in our 2020 Christmas Taste Test Awards, this is a twist on a classic panettone, with streaks of sweet, jammy peach and candied apricot filling. Our judges praised it for its super-soft, rich, and deliciously buttery dough, reminiscent of a good brioche. Wrapped in a traditional brown paper casing inside a pretty box with a carrying ribbon, this is a good-value, great-tasting option.
Waitrose & Partners (£10)
M&S triple-chocolate panettone (750g)
Runner up this year was another break from tradition, a panettone with a light and buttery base, a chocolate exterior, white, milk and dark chocolate chips, and a soft chocolate ganache-like sauce inside. Made by the Di Gennaro family in Fossano, this is sweeter than a classic panettone, and great for anyone who isn’t a fan of dried fruit.
In-store at M&S (£10)
Muzzi panettone with Fabbri Amarena cherries (1kg)
Muzzi have been making panettone for over a century, and their mother yeast is over 80 years old. Still produced in Foligno, the company makes several different flavours of panettone. We’ve tried the pear and chocolate, classic and marrons glacés flavours (among others), but it’s this one, a collaboration with Fabbri using their fantastic Amarena cherries, that we are loving this year. All Muzzi panettones have soft, yielding doughs and masses of flavour. Buy an extra jar of the Fabbri cherries or a bottle of cherry liqueur to serve with it as a dessert. This comes hand-wrapped in pretty, branded paper with a thin ribbon bow.
Melbury & Appleton (£26.99)
Fiasconaro x Dolce and Gabbana mandorle di Sicilia (1kg)
This new-for-2020 panettone with a soft, indulgent texture makes a really special gift (for yourself or anyone else) because of the gorgeous limited-edition tin (which also makes a very good cake tin in the future). Stuffed with raisins soaked in Vecchio Samperi (an aromatic, aged marsala wine), pearl sugar and almonds, and covered with icing and even more sugar and almonds, this is perfect for people who don’t like the candied citrus in the more classic versions. Very special and very moreish.
Sous Chef (£39.99)
Lina Stores traditional panettone (1kg)
If a classy, pared-back gift look is what you are after on the panettone front, then Lina Stores’ packaging is a winner – it really is very pretty. Inside, you’ll find a classic panettone with a soft, buttery texture and plenty of raisins and candied orange.
Lina Stores (£25.95)
Loison Panettone with marrons glacés (600g)
Family-run Italian bakery Loison is best-known for its panettones and pandoros, which it has been making for over 75 years. Anyone who loves the flavour of chestnuts at Christmas will love Loison’s extra-special marrons glacés panettone. It starts with the bakery’s light, buttery signature panettone, then candied chestnuts and sweet chestnut purée are dotted throughout.
Sous Chef (£18.50)
Seggiano classic panettone (500g)
Slightly drier than many panettones (and that’s not a bad thing), this cuts easily, and goes very well with a glass of sweet wine for dipping (softer varieties don’t stand up to this kind of treatment as well). This is made in small batches with organic eggs and butter, and is pleasing in its simplicity. Try it in bread and butter pudding, as the texture soaks up the custard well and bakes to melting softness.
Fiasconaro luxury pistachio panettone x Dolce and Gabbana (1kg)
This panettone made by Fiasconaro in Castelbuono, Sicily comes topped with a white chocolate glaze studded with pistachios, plus a jar of outrageously good pistachio cream to slather over slices with the gold spreading knife provided – if you are a pistachio fan, look no further. This light-textured cake has no added fruit to compete with the pistachio spread. The square cake tin makes a beautiful package for a gift, if you can bear to give it away.
Crosta & Mollica apricot panettone (500g)
Filled with candied apricot, this panettone makes a change from classic citrus flavours, and has the same soft texture and heady floral aroma. Beautifully wrapped with a ribbon and gift tag for giving away, or at this price, buy one for Christmas breakfast – it goes very well with a glass of prosecco or coffee, if you prefer.
And if money is no object….
Sal de Riso gold panettone (1 kg)
Made by the Sal De Riso bakery on the Amalfi Coast, this is likely the most exclusive panettone you’ll have come across, with a blow-the-budget price tag to match. It’s made using a 60-year-old mother yeast, and comes covered in edible gold leaf on a special plate. The heady aroma is much stronger than many panettone, perfuming the room as soon as you open it, and the flavour delivers the same punch – it’s a mix of honey, vanilla and candied orange. There’s also chocolate frosting, and chocolate pieces inside.
Christmas baking recipes
This review was last updated in December 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@.