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Viva (Canadian) Panettone!

Unwrap the cake and a heady waft of vanilla greets you first. Next come the sweet and citric aromas of candied orange and lemon peel.

Now, if you’re anything like us, you’ll be primed to carve a thick wedge from the round and have a taste — so go ahead.

The dome is crisp, and the crumb beneath, moist and rich but also airy and delicate. There is complexity in the flavour profile, but it strikes only the traditional notes. Candied lemon and orange peel, raisin, vanilla, and sweet- ness balanced by the barely detectable tang of a natural sourdough starter. This is a classic Milanese panettone — made in Saint-Léonard, Montreal.

Panettone is very challenging. It takes three days and is one of the most difficult things to bake,” says Éric Goeury, of his experience taking up the iconic cake after 20-odd years making viennoiseries and other European essentials. “I tried. I failed. I tried again. I failed.

But he kept at it for a decade, honing recipe and technique. He mastered the 20-day Italian method of turning quality fruit into candied peel. He acquired (and learned how to look after) a centenarian Italian-born sourdough starter, which is essential to his panettone’s creamy-soft crumb and ensures its long shelf life without artificial preservatives. And finally, he brought on Anthony Daniele, a collaborator with Italian roots, and together they tweaked the recipe further.

Two years ago, on the same day their company, Viva Panettone, was launched, their Le Signature was chosen as the Canadian entrant for the inaugural Coppa del Mondo del Panetonne, held in Lugano, Switzerland. This year, they competed at the World Cup finals in Milan as well. We will be cheering them on this holiday season—with a slice in hand.

Photograph by Jacob Richler