Diego Crosara, pastry art director of the historic Marchesi pastry shop, wins first place at "Artisti del Panettone 2023”.
On November 26, 2023, the Marchesi pastry shop achieved an important milestone, taking the top spot in the "Artisti del Panettone 2023" competition and winning the best traditional classic Panettone category, thanks to its pastry art director Diego Crosara. This recognition is the result of almost two centuries of research and passion, obtained through constantly evolving work and a deep love for ingredients like 100% Italian wheat flour, naturally processed six-crown raisins, and Sicilian oranges.
In recent years, the popularity of Panettone cake has rapidly grown all over the world with an artisanal production that has surpassed industrial manufacturing. But like all good things, its success also took time and only arrived after many centuries.
The origin of this extraordinary creation is shrouded in legend. Historically we know that people around the globe have enjoyed sweet breads made with leavened dough and honey since the 1st century. But the "modern-day" panettone probably first emerged from the ovens of medieval Milan: author Giorgio Valagussa wrote in the 1470s that the Duke of Milan used to serve a slice to the members of his household on Christmas Eve.
In the 15th century, panettone was an unleavened bread with an unremarkable taste. Starting in 1800, the use of yeast increased its shape and flavour and candied fruit added a touch of sweetness. With growing popularity came greater creativity and, starting in the Belle Époque, fashionable Milanese pastry shops began to compete, creating panettone cakes with increasingly artistic decorations.
Today, in addition to the classic traditional panettone, Marchesi 1824 produces a panettone with no candied fruit, a version with chocolate and pears, one with candied chestnuts, and many other versions. Natural starter yeast allows its properties to be released, enhancing the flavour and aroma and making the cake lighter and more digestible.
With its universal and timeless appeal, the Panettone cake remains the undisputed star of the Christmas holidays and a symbol of the city of Milan. Giuseppe Ciocca, the most renowned pastry chef between the 19th and 20th centuries, once said: "Panettone exerts its prodigious and delicious attraction not only on children, but also on the winsome lass, the flirtatious and capricious woman, the serious and mature matron, the rugged man…in short, on everyone.”