I've picked up some small imported panettones here at a local market. I've had panettone before, and always thought it was just an okay fruitbread (I generally like any fruitbread even if it's mediocre) that I'd eaten at other people's houses at Christmastime. Often these were large, expensive panettones, usually received as gifts (as an upscale and better-accepted version of fruitcake,) and were served sliced and put on a tray with other Christmas goodies.
This brand (Tres Marias, but I'll be interested in hearing about any other good brands) is so much better and, frankly, more memorable than any of those other panettones. The shape is small -- the size of one of those giant muffins -- enough for two servings about, or could be sliced into 4-5 thin slices. The ingredients list is as follows (in five languages, but I'll reproduce the English :)
Panettone - Naturally Leavened Bakery Product: wheat flour, sultanas, butter (12%), candied orange peels (9%), natual yeast, glucose syrup, emulsifiers, monodiglycerides of fatty acids; malt extract, flavourings, salt. Store in a dry place, away from heat sources.
YUM! I've a few questions about for the hounds: what are sultanas? Are they just a fancy kind of raisin? If so, what kind of grape, and are they treated in a certain way? I am really not a raisin fan, and I LOVE the sultanas in the panettone. Also, is candied orange peel usual in panettone? If it was in those other versions I never tasted it. Also the butter (12%) could have something to do with why I love this product so much :), -- and I've seen big, fancy, very very expensive ( I mean, 15-35$ for some of these babies) that were made with things like butter oil (? is this clarified butter) and even hydrogenated shortenings. All the ones I've looked at have been imported from Italy, like this standout Tres Marias brand.
Also, if any Italian-heritage (or not) bakers out there have a good homemade panettone recipe, I'd be interested. Also, tips on baking, and if it's possible at home to make something as good as this product. The idea of a homemade panettone on the level of this Tres Marias one is enough to send me over the edge....