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Milanese people are good as Panettoni

Our tour in the little Vergani’s temple, that bakes this typical bread loaf since 1944

by Beba Marsano
December 24th, 2014

During the times of Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, it was eaten only at important events.
In Italy, in the post-war period, it was only con- sumed at Christmas. We are talking of panettone, the Milanese bread loaf, that now has its own little temple: a fragrant perfumed boutique near Porta Venezia – via Mercadante, 17, in Milan city centre.

A Vergani’s idea, the haute pâtisserie house born in 1944 that today sets the goal to deseasonalise the typical Milanese bread-like cake, also known as one of the symbols of the city of Milan, made with flour, sugar, eggs, candied fruits and sultana.

As Siena already does with its panforte. “We bake an average of 6,000 panettoni per day, from the little pieces – 100 grammes – to the bigger ones – 5 kilos – to those that weight 50 kilos, but only on demand, in more than ten different versions: classic, with almond frosting, with apricot and pears or chocolate and orange, till the excellence line with Sicilian candied oranges, Tuscan acacia honey, Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar and stone ground wheat germ flour”, Vergani family, guardian of the Milanese traditions handed down over four generations, says.

In this avant-garde concept temple, both small shop and café, traditions and old forgotten cus- toms are still alive.

For breakfast, a soft slice of classic panettone is served with a cup of barbajada, typical Milanese chocolate-and-coffee-based drink, consumed till the Thirties and then almost forgotten.
For a sweet snack, a slice of candied ginger and chocolate panettone served with cinnamon and Earl Grey tea. Protected by a strict policy, with detailed ingredients and percentages, Vergani’s panettone is the handmade result of 72 making hours, as the 500 years old recipe wants: “It is the longest and most difficult preparation of all the pâtisserie”, Stefano Vergani says.

Alessandro Manzoni, Pietro Verri, Pope Pius IX (who received a huge panettone sent through a special coach in 1847) and Prince von Metternich were real fans of the Milanese bread loaf. Despite the revolts, during the Lombardy occu- pation of Austria, Prince von Metternich himself said Milanese people were not as good as gold, but “as good as panettoni”.

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