First the disclosure- I have never eaten a panettone. But I see them everywhere in December. I understand that around this time of the year Italians enjoy these as a Christmas sweet. Some industrial-produced store-bought ones are a few dollars each. But I see ‘artisan’ ones everywhere, and they cost like $40, $50 or even more each.
Why are they so expensive? And are they so much better than the cheap ones? The ingredient list for the expensive ones doesn’t seem to contain pricey ingredients.
So I am genuinely perplexed. Please don’t take this question as confrontational. I am just genuinely ignorant about this topic. Thanks.
(John Hartley - a culinary patriot eating & cooking in Northwest England)
The cynic in me suggests you have already identified the reason. Put the word “artisan” (American) or “craft” (British) near any foodstuff and it immediately becomes expensive.
I can’t say "alll expensive ones are better but some absolutely are. Some of the artisan ones are more moist, have better tasting dried fruits in them, and in general better ingredients (real butter etc).
Some just charge more because of a fancier tin/etc I’m sure.
I don’t have a go to brand to point you towards but years ago before you could find them everywhere, Williams Sonoma sold one that was absolutely deliacious. I haven’t bought it in years so no idea if it is the same now or not. But having those highlighted the differences between a really good one and a heap mass produced one.
The more expensive ones are imports from Italy right? Like @harters said, they are not mass production, artisan or craft. I have tasted the industrial ones and the famous ones from Italy, the better ones use real ingredient, butter, sometimes with alcohol, fruits confit, or even chocolate. They are similar to brioche, which is a type of bread that requires some work, and the price of brioche to ordinary bread in a bakery here, I would say 3 times more expensive.
But one point is interesting, even if they are from famous specialist from Italy, they can be bought and kept for months. Unlike cakes or pastries from shops, they need to be consumed quickly. I find the difference in quality doesn’t justify the extremely expensive ones. They can charge that price because the place is famous.
Don’t forget panettones are for Christmas and new year. Festival food has another price tag.
A few years ago, panettones started to get fashionable in France, the price was quite expensive. Now even the supermarket’s own store brands have their panettones, the price lowers consecutively.
I used the quotes not so much to criticize the craft movement. In fact, I like quite a lot what some of the craft movement is doing. I enjoy my ‘craft’ bread for example, but a mass produced ciabatta may be $3 and the craft one may be $9. So if we assume craft products are 3 times costlier. Then in the panettone world, the craft one is like 10 times more expensive, which was the source of my original confusion.
Walked past an Italian grocery yesterday, it was after my meal at Ipuddo. Saw on their display, chocolate panettone on promotion, instead of 19€/ $23 now 14€ / $17. Got one without hesitation, even the new year is long gone!
Two types of chocolates inside the cake: “grain” and cream. Not very sweet. The cake itself was soft, but not extremely fluffy like some. Not dry and not wet like the one we had tasted in December with lemon confit and alcohol. I sense some alcohol but looking at the ingredients list, there were none, must be the 3 day of natural leavening they talked about on the box. Both of us enjoyed the cake.
Eric Bordelet’s Apple cider was a perfect match with the cake.