With seasonal panettone, the magnum makes a big impression

Rick Mindermann, store director at Corti Bros. Market, hoists a 22-pound panettone magnum.
Rick Mindermann, store director at Corti Bros. Market, hoists a 22-pound panettone magnum.

Shoppers bring their carts to sudden stops and block aisles to stand and stare up at it.

“Awesome!” and “Unbelievable!” are typical comments.

The novelty that’s creating the buzz is the 22-pound panettone classico magnum on display at Corti Bros. Market in East Sacramento (three more are in the storeroom). It’s 16 inches tall, 18 inches wide and five feet in girth. The price: $252.

“We’ve affectionately nicknamed it ‘the ottoman,’” said store director Rick Mindermann with a chuckle. “You could just about throw it in front of your easy chair and put your feet up on it.”

Panettone is a yeasty, seasonal bread that shows up in specialty stores every December. The Corti Bros. pastry was handcrafted by artisans at the Loison bakery in Vincenza, Italy, and spiked with pale-green sultana raisins and small bits of candied lemon and orange peels. Loison has specialized in panettone since 1938.

That’s a lot of panettone, Rick. “It’s enough to feed 120 to 150 people,” Mindermann said.

OK, but, really, who would buy it? “We’ve sold the magnums for about a decade every holiday season,” he said. “(Buyers have included) families having Christmas reunions, and corporations on both coasts. We’ve shipped magnums nationwide. One year a big company bought four of them for a massive party.”

For centuries, panettone has been known as “the bread of luxury” in Italy, “designed to be apart from normal bread when the holiday season rolls around,” Mindermann said. “It’s a bread that exists as more of a cake. It begins life as an acidic dough with a starter, and a little bit of that batch is used for the next batch, just like sourdough bread.”

If you want a smaller panettone, choose from what Mindermann calls “the largest selection of panettone in the U.S., with 23 varieties.” They range from $10 to $130, and are quickly selling out.

Corti’s is at 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 736-3800,

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.