Nonna Pallina, an artisanal bakery and ice-cream shop in Palmanova (Udine), was among the 10 gold medals for the best “panettone tradizionale” (traditional panettone) at the last Panettone World Championship set up last October in Rome by the Federazione Italiana di Pasticceria, Gelateria e Cioccolateria (the Italian Federation of Bakers, Ice-Cream and Chocolate Makers). More than 300 bakers from Italy and all over the world (including Spain, Japan, France, USA, China and Morocco) competed for the second edition of the title and ran for the categories “classic”, “innovation” and “decoration”, and Nonna Pallina's owners Renato Talotti and Tiziana Merlini got the prestigious acknowledgement for their classical panettone.
The bakery L'Oca Golosa in Gorizia took part in the event too, but got its Head Pastry Chef Valentina De Luca an award at another competition. Its pandoro (another typical Christmas cake originally from Veneto) was judged as one of the 10 best artisanal ones by Goloasi.it in its 4th national competition for best panettone (traditional and with chocolate) and best pandoro.
According to the legend, the very first panettone was baked... in the 15th century! At that time, Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), also known as “Il Moro” (the Moor) was in charge of the Duchy of Milan, as a regent from 1480 and as the Duke himself from 1494 to 1499. The story goes that one year, at Christmas' Eve, the cake for the lavish ducal banquet burnt in the oven and so there would be nothing to serve as a dessert the next day. To fix such a disaster, one of the bakers at Ludovico's kitchens, a guy named Toni, put together in a hurry all that was left: eggs, butter, sugar, flour, quite an amount of good yeast and, most of all, raisins and candied fruits. It resulted in such a soft, delicious cake melting under one's teeth, that it became a huge success and started off as “the” Christmas cake for every Milanese. That's where it gets its name from: “Pan de' Toni”, Toni's bread, which finally morphed into “panettone”.
From the North it slowly spread throughout the country, and nowadays all good bakeries and pastry shops around Italy are specialized in panettone, producing it in countless varieties: without candied fruits and raisins, with chocolate chips, with lemoncello cream, covered in white chocolate... the final choice is up to you!