August 29, 2014
Tasting a cake means analyzing its sensory characteristics following a precise order, moving from the overall sensory examination to the breakdown of each individual ingredient and ultimately the pleasure of the experience.
The ritual. Some take it for granted, and others neglect it, however, the cutting of the panettone cake should follow a well-thought-out procedure. First of all, the product should not be cold, but at either room temperature or slightly warm, because any heat promotes the release of its fragrances. We don’t want that! The paper around the panettone cake should be peeled off delicately. The paper wrapping that covers the bottom also needs to be slowly removed and then placed back. By doing so, each cut slice will come off more easily from the paper base.
Sense of sight. The following should be gazed upon: both the internal and external colors, the distribution of the air pockets, the texture and the shape of the cake. Furthermore, the richness of the cake structure and its freshness should be examined as well.
Sense of smell. This is the most complex analysis because there are many elements that come into play: the cake’s aromatic fragrance and its multiplicity; the intensity of the butter, the natural yeast, the candied fruit and the vanilla. All of those should be evaluated by persistence and depth.
Sense of taste. This is the most pleasant but difficult part because, on the one hand, we experience the pleasure and excitement of the actual tasting; on the other hand, we need to perform an objective analysis, as connoisseurs. At this stage, we analyze the complexity of the cake’s structure and sweetness; the intensity and smooth texture of the butter, the natural yeast, the candied peel of the orange and the citron, the raisins and any other fruit if present, as well as the texture and sweetness of any filling. At the end, an overall evaluation of the balance of flavors, their persistence and aftertaste need to be performed and gormandized.
Sense of touch. Touch is a sense that is perceived not only by hand, but also by mouth. Therefore, one must assess the resistance and softness of the cake during the cutting, as well as the texture and moisture, both with one’s fingers and mouth.
Overall assessment. This is where a subjective analysis is expected: that is the result of the multi-sensory feelings experienced during the tasting. First, the pleasure, then the degree of satisfaction and, finally, for your pleasure, the temptation to have another bite.