I’m back with my vegan panettone review 2022, the back-with-friends edition, and I’m also adding a vegan egg nog this year for the first time.
The expert panel returns
This year, I’m back in London and my expert panel welcomes back Kip of epic vegan Thai supper clubs and a long-time blogger.
A bumper crop
This year, I purchased seven of the eight available vegan panettoni! Eight, can you believe it?! This is the largest number of vegan panettoni since we started this series in 2019.
I have updated this review from the original five I started with (in the photo below) with two additional one which came on the market later in November. I also was in Italy recently and have updated this review with the sole new vegan panettone I found. See more below. I have definitely over-panettone’d this year.
Panettone is a traditional leavened and baked Italian Christmas cake typically containing sultanas, candied orange peel and delicate aromas. It originated in Milano sometime in the 18th century. It’s packaged in attractive boxes and they’re often given as gifts.
Since I can remember, it’s been ubiquitous in shops all over Italy and the fashion has taken hold in the UK too. You can now also find chocolate and other flavour panettone. Commercially made vegan panettoni were rare. Now, they’re available in large supermarkets!
Baking without animal products is obviously possible and the results are delicious. All these panettone are vegan. Instead of dairy butter, these are made primarily with olive or other vegetable oils. One of them contains palm oil, which we generally avoid. Although palm oil is suitable for vegans because it comes from a plant, there are other factors making it a substance we like to avoid if possible. All the panettoni in this review are made in Italy.
Artisanal panettone and pandoro
Last year, we mentioned a few local artisans who were making vegan panettone and pandoro (a fluffier version without sultanas, raisins or candied fruit). I’ve not yet seen the local artisans make these available. Keep an eye on them and, again, if I can manage it, I’ll update this review with artisan offerings.
MAKE YOUR OWN
If you want a challenge, you could try to make your own with VegsideStory (complete with video instructions) all the while practicing your Italian! Or try A Veg Taste from A to Z’s recipe in English.
And now for the reviews
The vegan panettone review for this year resulted in pretty unanimous judgments.
Prices do not include shipping or delivery. A note on packaging, the external boxes for each of these, but one, are paper or cardboard and widely recycled. The plastic bag in which each of these panettoni is wrapped is not recyclable unless you have access to specialty recycling facilities.
The winners for 2022
This year, the clear winner is Pasticceria Scarpato, which is being sold by Selfridges (£24.99 for 750g). Every year so far, Selfridges has found some superb quality vegan panettoni despite moving away from inventive flavours (see the reviews from 2020 and 2019).
This panettone has very fine quality sultanas and orange and citron candied peel. The cake texture is chewy and moist. It’s a dense one, but not overly so and you can see the open crumb. The aromas are balanced and we loved the golden colour from the addition of turmeric. A unanimous first place.
And the newcomer Artysan by Organico (£13.49 for 500g) is my next outright winner. It has a bold and pleasing box design and it would make a terrific gift.
The dough is dense, pleasingly chewy, with caramel notes. The sultanas and citrus peel are plump and of excellent quality. It has a nice colour too. Not golden like Scarpato’s above, but a lovely and natural cake beige.
Tied for second place
Seggiano’s (£18.20 for 500g) vegan panettone was Kip’s clear second place. Its texture is much lighter than all the others and that difference made a notable impression. You can see the very open crumb and contrast this to the smaller crumb of the other panettoni. This panettone contains sultanas and no candied peel. A great option if you don’t like those.
You might note its shape is more like pandoro instead of the usual squat panettone. The citrus aromas are present despite there not being any candied peel.
The image on the box is of a putto kissing Venus. I couldn’t identify the precise artwork from which the image is drawn. Perhaps it’s a famous artwork from Brescia, where Seggiano was founded. I searched with little success. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. It’s a bold choice.
I couldn’t decide between Seggiano and my perennial favourite, Vergani (£18.95 from Feast Italy, fka Red Beetle, which is still one of my favourite purveyors of highest quality Italian products in the UK). This panettone usually wins as the best one for me (see 2021, 2020 and 2019 reviews).
Once again, Vergani uses top notch ingredients, including juicy sultanas and gorgeous candied orange peel. The texture is on point, chewy yet not overly dense and the aromas are balanced. It was a close second to the Scarpato/Selfridges.
And then I tried La Finestra sul Cielo (lit. the window on the sky) (£15.96 for 750g), and it joins Seggiano and Vergani in second place. I can’t decide between them!
This is a lighter, fluffier dough and lighter in colour like Vergani. I didn’t detect as many candied peel as I’d have liked. This is a great option if you’re not keen on them. The sultanas were excellent and plump. I loved the packaging as well. It can even be reused because it folds out into a large and tall paper bag. I think this one and Artysan win on packaging.
Good options, just not great
The following are all good options, they just weren’t standouts in comparison to the previous five.
This year we have John Lewis with their Chiostro di Saronno‘s (£16.00 for 750g) first entry into the vegan panettone space, at least first to us since 2019.
The packaging looks pretty and colourful. However, it’s not paper. The inside lining is plastic, so none of this is recyclable. It also contains palm oil, so we won’t be buying this again. Palm oil is a cheap filler without flavour in these types of uses (when it’s used in traditional cuisines in parts of Africa, it does have a pretty fantastic flavour). So manufacturers use it to increase their margins.
The flavours are muted because the ingredients are simply not as high quality as the previous panettoni. There’s aromas, but not the actual items providing those aromas. The sultanas aren’t as juicy and the texture is a bit dry. Notwithstanding all this, seeing John Lewis offer this product is an interesting expansion of vegan products. And an option at this price point and location.
Finally, we have the solid option of Probios (£9.00 for 300g). You will find this in Holland & Barrett and elsewhere. The smaller the panettone, the higher the likelihood it’ll be on the drier side. I don’t know why this is, but that’s been my experience.
All Probios’ products are organic and they manufacture a variety of vegan products. This panettone was spelt and chocolate. It has a good flavour. For us, it didn’t pack a flavour or texture punch like the others. It’s a bit on the dry side. Nevertheless, add a bit of coffee or a liqueur or the vegan egg nog we tried (more below) and you’re good to go. The price point is also attractive.
For the first time we’ll include a drink alongside the reviews. We tried Black Lines’ Oatnog (£20 for 750ml) for the first time. It was delicious. It’s an oat milk based alcoholic drink, infused with all the winter warming spices, and laced with rum. Unlike some milky-based drinks and American-style egg nog, it’s not viscous. This is a light and flavourful drink. The expert panel thought it was pretty perfect for this type of bevvy.
It’s available directly from their website and in selected supermarkets, see Black Lines’ social media for all updates.
Other vegan panettone available, but not reviewed this year
Evvivo £23.90 for 500g, which we reviewed in each of 2021 and 2019. It was available at Planet Organic in the past, so you might want to check there. It has always placed high on the list and so I’d recommend it for this year as well. I wonder if it would have displaced the tie for second place this year?!
At another level …
Coming in at €41 for 750g and in a lovely design confection, this gourmet vegan panettone is made by Antonino Cannavacciuolo. He’s a renown non-vegan chef. Not available in the UK and I’ve not tried it. I also wasn’t up to paying that price, frankly.
Let me know which one(s) you try and happy festive season!
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