I am in Costabissara, in the province of Vicenza to dive into the “sweet paradise” of the Loison family, three generations who have been able to continually question themselves to keep up with the times and with tastes. Born as a small bakery oven, in 80 years, the Costabissara laboratory has been transformed into an established artisan company whose products are in demand all over the world. Here we meet with Dario Loison and his great PANETTONE.
In your ‘VENEZIANA’ Which spices have you adopted? From Vanilla from Madagascar (Slow Food Presidium) to the precious mix of Black Pepper from Lampong (Indonesia), Timut (Nepal) and Jamaica, from Asian turmeric to South American Tonka beans with an eye to sought after single origins of cocoa coming in particular from Cuba and Venezuela.
The Museum boasts a collection of over 350 vintage postcards dedicated to Christmas seen through the eyes of children. My favorites are the three little chefs who proudly bring their delicacies to the table, including panettone, and this delightful little girl who drops a box of panettone in an elegant hatbox in the snow.
What are the distinctive qualities of a good panettone?
Softness, scent and purity of the fruit of which we have been champions for more than twenty years. We were the first ever to use the Ciaculli late mandarin, the Savona chinotto and the Calabrian fig, which is elaborated, baked and worked by hand with the addition of wild fennel, all this marrying the Slow Food world of which I have been part of for many years.
What about the ingredients? Tradition is our main ingredient while passion is the heat that heats our ovens and our desserts, now on tables all over the world. The Christmas holidays are coming. A must Loison on the table? Surely the ‘black-salt’ panettone, naturally leavened, with clarified butter, Cervia salt, chocolate chips of Venezuelan origin and stuffed with a salted caramel born from a French recipe.
Loison bakery grants three generations of people able to constantly challenge themselves to keep up with the times and with food trends. Born as a small wood-oven bakery, through 75 years, the small workshop of Costabissara has become a well-established company whose production is in demand all over the world. In 1938, when Tranquillo Loison opened his small bread bakery in Costabissara , close to Vicenza, Italy, bread was a staple food for the majority of the population. However, the introduction of ration cards during World War II limited its distribution and consumption. The end of the war and the improvement of the economy led to an increase in the demand for sweeter and tastier products. That is when Tranquillo began producing focacce with figs and raisins. His son Alessandro soon expanded the range of products adding spreads, wedding cakes and fresh pastries that he would deliver personally to local coffee shops and families. In 1955, Alessandro began specializing in the production and sales of Panettone and Pandoro cakes, yielding about 20-30 kilos a day. This new activity, together with the pastry line, was immediately much more profitable than selling bread alone, a product that was discontinued in 1960. In 1992, Alessandro’s son Dario joined and eventually took over the company contributing to its international expansion as a symbol of what’s ‘Made in Italy’. Loison has its own Museum and Library featuring a collection of historical postcards, antique confectionery items and books on the history of bread baking and pastry. A place where to breathe and promote culture. Dario Loison at times undertakes the role of university professor and gives lectures on entrepreneurship at Italian universities. Loison hosts groups of students who visit our company for a day to understand how and where ideas are born.This year I tried the Panettone Limoni, naturally leavened, typically shaped where the surface is cutted with a typical cross cut. The yellow dough is eniriched with Sultana raisin, candied lemon peels and filled with delicious lemon cream. The other I tried is the Cherry Panettone (with red cherries) A beautiful and sensual panettone well leavened and literally filled with lightly sugared cherries taht pair greatly with te sweetness of the dough.
Aromas, taste and aromas are those of a very good and artfully made industrial panettone, with pleasant toasted notes of butter, candied fruit and vanilla making a contained sweetness enhanced by the generous quantity of fruit.
This cake got the attention of food blogger Federica Cegalin.
Her recipe ‘Cioccolatini ripieni di panettone all amarena’ (panettone stuffed with red cherried) is featured in the Insolito Panettone, a collection of dishes created by top chefs, friends, bloggers and fans who consider panettone not only as a Xmas cake, but also as an ingredient in sweet and savory dishes throughout the year. You can check the preparation here
For more info
Let me take you to Venice to taste the traditional cake Veneziana. It’s delicately soft on the palate and it’s delicious for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. It’s a mixture made of milk, eggs, flour and butter, topped with sugar and almonds. Loisoncreated two new tentalizing Veneziana one with chocolate and spices, the other with apricot and spices. From the Madagascar Vanilla (Slow Food Presidium) to the prized mix of Lampong Black Pepper (Indonesia), Timut (Nepal) and Jamaica, from the Asian turmeric to the South American Tonka beans, with an eye to Cuban and Venezuelan cocoa
Two new delicacies that seem to pay homage to the Serenissima Republic, for seven centuries a crossroads of peoples, cultures and flavors. The amazing packaging, signed “Sonia Design” showing off images of the lagoon atmosphere, of magnificent traditions and magnificent architecture, taken from ancient postcards kept at the Loison Museum. The two veneziana will be previewed at Vinitaly,in Verona from April 15th to 18th,
at Area C Sol Agrifood stand A10. A tasty opportunity to celebrate the 80-year anniversary of Loison’s sweet journey.
Colomba di Pasqua is a traditional Italian Easter yeast bread. It is shaped like a dove (colomba in Italian), the symbol of peace and resurrection. The birth of the colomba dates back to the year 572, when King Alboin, after three years of siege, captured the town of Pavia in northern Italy on Easter Eve. Evading the guards, an old baker was able to reach the king and offer a dove-shaped leavened bread. “Alboin,” he said, “I offer this symbol, as a tribute to peace, on Easter day.” The sweet scent and the convincing message persuaded the king to give a promise of peace. That’s the legend.The dove we know today has a more recent origin and, I should say, a more prosaic version of the history. In the early 1930s the Milanese company Motta specialized in panettone, a cake produced only for Christmas. Unhappy to have their machinery unused for many months, Motta decided to package a similar product to be sold during the Easter holidays.
The shape of the sweet dove was a choice dictated not only by symbolism, but also to welcome the arrival of the spring. The new cake was (and still is) a huge success. It is typically soft, fragrant outside and moist inside, naturally leavened for a whole night, then filled with a mixture of flour, sugar, eggs and candied orange. After a long rest, the dough is portioned in different sizes for an additional four hours of leavening, then covered with almonds, sugar and amaretto. Since its birth, the colomba was enriched by many variations and a variety of different icings and fillings.
After baking, it must rest at least seven hours before it is finally packaged.
So many colombe…
From Loison toFraccaroto all those of the Regina Colomba event, held in Milan a few days before Easter. I would like to mention the very young pastry chefs of Alma, the celebrated International School of Italian Cuisine in Colorno, near Parma, where I discovered and tasted their very soft creation: the colomba with chocolate and black cherry flakes. Pleasantly soft and spongy and intensely fragrant. A sweet message of peace.