Thursday, 19 December 2013
Christmas = Panettone & Torrone
The origins of this cake appear to be ancient, dating back to the Roman Empire, when ancient Romans sweetened a type ofleavened cake with honey. Throughout the ages this "tall, leavened fruitcake" makes cameo appearances in the arts: It is shown in a sixteenth-century painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder and is possibly mentioned in a contemporary recipe book written byBartolomeo Scappi, personal chef to popes and emperors during the time of Charles V. The first recorded association of Panettone with Christmas can be found in the writings of 18th century illuminist Pietro Verri. He refers to it as "Pane di Tono" (luxury cake).
However, all of the above "legends" that involve the concept of a person named "Toni" are specious and not credible, and are clearly the work of English-speaking sources and not Italians. Tony or Toni are not Italian nicknames, but English nicknames for "Anthony" (also an English name), and the etymology of the word "panettone" does not contain a person's name. It is "panetto," meaning "loaf," with the augmentative Italian suffix "-one" that lends the connotation of something "large."
Torrone is a traditional winter and Christmas confection in Italy and many varieties exist. Traditional versions from Cremona, Lombardy, range widely in texture (morbido, soft and chewy, to duro, hard and brittle) and in flavor (with various citrus flavorings, vanilla, etc., added to the nougat) and may contain whole hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios or only have nut meal added to the nougat. Some commercial versions are dipped in chocolate. The popular recipes have varied with time and differ from one region to the next. Torrone di Benevento from Benevento, Campania, sometimes goes by the historic name Cupedia, which signifies the crumbly version made with hazelnuts. The softer version is made with almonds. Although originally resembling sticky paste, it now differs only marginally from the varieties of Torrone di Cremona. Abruzzo, Sicily and Sardinia also have local versions that may be slightly distinct from the two main denominations from Lombardy and Campania. The following information is printed on boxes of torrone distributed by Ferrara Foods, West Deptford, NJ 08086.