I’m always amazed that pannetone isn’t more popular among my friends and family because I think its one of the most delicious sweet treats around. It may be due to the fact that high quality pannetone, which is markedly better, is fairly expensive ($20-40 per cake). Another reason could be that it doesn’t fit into a common American conception of cake or bread, because it is something in between. The dough is cured — like sourdough — and proofed — like challah — and the result is a tangy, fluffy sweet bread. The cake is dotted with some variation of candied orange peel, citron, raisins, almonds, or less commonly other fruits and nuts like cherries or pistachios. It is occasionally (deliciously) stuffed with sweet cream. A close friend who seems to know about everything that falls within the realm of good taste turned me on to pannetone years ago, and she’s such a fan that she served it at her wedding (paired with great success with a chilled, oxidized Grenache Blanc dessert wine). Corti Brothers carries two brands: Bardi and Loison. Darrel Corti promotes the Loison with much more vigor and I think it is superior. Traditionally these cakes are served at Christmas and Easter (at Easter its sometimes called focaccia, not pannetone); recently I enjoyed — in celebration of the spring equinox — the Loison Focaccia Mandorlata. This is the “Panettone with Almonds,” but it also has raisins, candied Sicilian oranges, and Calabrian citron. The Mandorlata is one of the more humble easter cakes at Corti Brothers, costing $20.89. It’d make a lovely easter brunch offering or dinner party gift in lieu of wine. It was delicious, especially eaten with family in a backyard bursting with buds and bees!