Winter 2021, retreat upon retreat to find deeper levels of tenderness, vaster horizons of perspective, sweeter tastes on our tongues, more time to attend to our landscapes, more generosity with ourselves, more awareness of everyone’s vulnerabilities, more space for friends.
The TangoForge Advent brings you a daily treat, from today until Christmas Eve, 24.December. This year’s advent shares the treasures I discovered in 2021, along with a few longstanding insights that get me through dark seasons.
Memories of advent calendars are tactile and delightful. Searching the ornate image for the tiny numbers, gently prying open the paper, puzzling out the secret meaning of the miniature illustration …
Anticipation of each day’s gathering around the calendar is accompanied by the growing excitement for sparkly, delicious, unknown treats to come.
This year –like last year– we need every treat and ritual we can find…
Advent 2021 Day 1, 28.November
First things first:
Order the Panettone
This first message of the second TangoForge Advent season again begins by entreating you to deliciousness. Order a fine Italian panettone. Determined to arrive to Italy in time for panettone last year, I ate five.
Like dances, the terrible ones are excruciating and the good ones are sublime. Understand the difference: Real panettone is made with “llevito madre”. That is a living yeast, like a sourdough, but it doesn’t have a sour taste. It’s used mostly for bread, pizza, etc. Industrial bread and commercial panettone is made with instant yeast or chemical rising agents. Llevito madre requires more skill because it changes with weather, humidity, and variations in the flour.
Panettone has a rich taste because it is full of eggs and butter. But these ingredients weigh down the dough. It requires a very skilled baker to coax such a dough to rise. Add the further weight of raisins (the traditional flavour, now also possible with candied citrus, figs, chocolate, apricots…), and he faces a mighty challenge, checking the dough constantly throughout its rising periods. The cost also must take into account the high cost of ingredients wasted in occasional failed batches that are an inevitable part of the process.
The baker must attend to the dough at all hours throughout the three-day rising period, and after baking must promptly invert each loaf into a basket to prevent the tender strands of gluten from collapsing under the rich weight.
Now you understand why it’s expensive. What I love about that expense is that what we’re paying for is intensive, attentive labor, and refined skill – as well as a lot of eggs, butter, and fruit.
Snare a true artisan Panettone from Olivieri 1882 or Perbellini. Both ship directly around the world and offer classical Panettone, special contemporary flavors, and Pandoro, a similar Christmas cake without fruits (and therefore able to be a bit taller) which I love equally. In the US, you can order Perbellini from Formaggio Kitchen.
The ancient fermentation method results in a cake that lasts for well over a month, so they are perfectly safe for shipping.
Panettone are beautifully wrapped for gifting to others or yourself.
Although intended as dessert, Panettone also makes a perfect luxurious Christmas day breakfast.