KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Christmas is a time for feasting, and for feasting well.

From roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce to a Christmas pavlova crowned with pomegranate seeds on a bed of Chantilly cream, our tastebuds are spoiled for choice.

Then there are Yuletide breads, from delicately spiced gingerbread to Stollen, those sugar-dusted Bavarian loaves filled with fruits and nuts.

Perhaps there is no bread more synonymous with Christmas than panettone, that Italian bread reserved for year-end festivities.

Originating from Milan, panettone is a cylindrical sweet bread which in its traditional incarnation is studded with candied orange peel and raisins.

Twenty-Two Bakery, a sourdough bakery by baristas turned bakers Ang Bo Ling and Yap Yee Teng, has been rolling out panettone every year since they started in 2018.

Besides their fan-favourite Panettone Classico, they also make a decadent Panettone Cioccolato using Valrhona dark and milk chocolate as well as a hit of sweetness from organic dried cherries.

Twenty-Two Bakery has been rolling out 'panettone' every year since 2018 (left) such as their Panettone Fragola e Cioccolato (right). — Pictures courtesy of Twenty-Two Bakery
Twenty-Two Bakery has been rolling out 'panettone' every year since 2018 (left) such as their Panettone Fragola e Cioccolato (right). — Pictures courtesy of Twenty-Two Bakery

Ang says, “For those who don’t like raisins, an alternative to the classic version is our Panettone Fragola e Cioccolato which uses candied strawberries and dried strawberries. We also use a creamy and less sweet Valrhona white chocolate for a hint of vanilla.”

For those who adore raisins, however, go big with Twenty-Two Bakery’s Panettone Caramello. Here, caramel chocolate is used to give the bread a subtle sweetness. Ang shares, “This was inspired by our childhood memories. We use organic jumbo raisins and sprinkle peanuts on top to give it an extra crunchiness.”

This wintertime smörgåsbord of baked goodies doesn’t end there. Head over to Orito in Sri Hartamas, famed for their delicate choux pastries, for an entirely new pâtisserie menu.

Orito founder Justin Tang says, “We have a new milky pecan choux, two new cookies (walnut chocolate and cinnamon) and two new doughnut flavours (home made Nutella, and blood orange curd). We also have a new Paris-Brest called So Black.”

That cheeky moniker refers to the addition of black sesame to Orito’s signature pastry, the Paris-Brest — an almond encrusted pâte à choux filled with a nutty praline crème mousseline.

Expect a plethora of fine 'pâtisserie' at Orito in Sri Hartamas (left) such as their stunning cardamom 'babka' (right). — Pictures by Kenny Mah
Expect a plethora of fine 'pâtisserie' at Orito in Sri Hartamas (left) such as their stunning cardamom 'babka' (right). — Pictures by Kenny Mah

Created in 1910 by Maisons-Laffitte’s renowned pâtissier Louis Durand, its iconic wheel shape pays homage to the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race.

Don’t overlook the humble and unassuming cardamom babka. While Orito first stunned customers with their chocolate-hazelnut and cinnamon babkas, this new flavour gives the sweet, braided bread a deeper resonance with the season; its piney and almost fruity notes remind us it’s time for the holidays.

For nutrition conscious merrymakers, Wise Crafters has launched their Be Oatsome Christmas Combo. The bundle includes five 350g tubs of oatmeal and two 380ml bottles of kefir drinks, with free delivery within 15km of Bandar Sunway.

This PJ-based healthy food start-up, known for their creative flavours of overnight oats, has also recently replaced their oatmeal glass jars with new eco-friendly, kraft paper tubs this Christmas.

Founder Samantha Ng explains, “With this new packaging, we can lighten the burden of our delivery heroes as it is lighter and safer to carry, protect our environment and creatively delight our customers. They can reuse these paper jars and form an eco-friendly Christmas tree by tapping it up to form a triangular shape!”

Wise Crafters has launched their Be Oatsome Christmas Combo which includes five tubs of oatmeal and two bottles of kefir. — Picture courtesy of Wise Crafters
Wise Crafters has launched their Be Oatsome Christmas Combo which includes five tubs of oatmeal and two bottles of kefir. — Picture courtesy of Wise Crafters

She adds, “People living with non-communicable disease (NCD) are at higher risk of severe COVID-19-related illness and death. Therefore we hope our interesting design will attract more people to eat healthily and stay fit during this festive season.”

What’s more evocative of Christmas than cinnamon and chocolate? This is precisely what Derry Teh, the 26-year-old owner of Ground, the Damansara Uptown café known for croissants, coffee and bombolone (Italian filled doughnuts), considered when he developed their new Christmas beverages.

Their Hot Cinnamon Chocolate is a luxurious cuppa, with the perfect accompaniment of a Christmas tree cookie while the more playful Iced Cinnamon Chocolate Macchiato has a candy cane hanging from its edge, its green and red stripes putting you immediately in the mood.

Teh shares, “Cinnamon reminds me of Christmas, the very scent of Christmas. Chocolate and cinnamon are elements that go well together so I thought, what better way to welcome Christmas than with these in our Christmas inspired drinks?”

Christmas beverages at Ground in Damansara Uptown: Hot Cinnamon Chocolate (left) and Iced Cinnamon Chocolate Macchiato (right). — Pictures courtesy of Ground Coffee
Christmas beverages at Ground in Damansara Uptown: Hot Cinnamon Chocolate (left) and Iced Cinnamon Chocolate Macchiato (right). — Pictures courtesy of Ground Coffee

For those of us who can’t live without coffee, we hanker for something truly special during this time of mistletoe rendezvous and reindeer rides. Over at Sunday Coffee & Cakes in OUG, their refreshing and resplendent Orange Cold Brew pairs citrus and caffeine to keep you in a celebratory mood.

Senior barista Darren Lee shares, “We use freshly squeezed orange juice and our signature house cold brew, a black coffee without milk. Then we combine it using a milkshake blender or shaker.”

The result is a creamy foam not unlike the frothy Schaum capping a well pulled glass of Bavarian Weißbier. While Sunday’s Orange Cold Brew is entirely non-alcoholic, the wheat beer analogy reverberates when one recalls how, in the Netherlands, Witbier (Dutch for “white beer”) is often infused with orange peel.

Clearly there’s something magical about the scent of an orange and a good head of foam. But let’s not forget the coffee component, which is crucial to the final taste.

The Orange Cold Brew at Sunday Coffee & Cakes in OUG is a citrusy, caffeinated delight. — Picture courtesy of Sunday Coffee & Cakes
The Orange Cold Brew at Sunday Coffee & Cakes in OUG is a citrusy, caffeinated delight. — Picture courtesy of Sunday Coffee & Cakes

Lee says, “We always change the beans used to make our signature cold brew so it’s always interesting. Mostly we aim for a brew that comes out slightly acidic.”

What a feast of flavours, then, that awaits us — from cardamom and cinnamon to orange and chocolate — for which we are nothing if not grateful.

It has been a tough time for everyone, and F&B (food and beverage) businesses have not been spared. Which makes Christmas more than merely festive this year but also an important business milestone for F&B operators — a blessing in more ways than one. A reason to rejoice.

Ground’s Teh puts it best when he says, “For us and other F&B establishments, being able to celebrate Christmas together coming out of a challenging year and a half is especially important. More than that, it helps us remember never to take things for granted.”

Twenty-Two Bakery 二十二號烘培坊

Pre-order their panettone from their websites:

FB: facebook.com/twenty2bakery/

IG: instagram.com/twenty2bakery_/

Orito

B.0.5, Plaza Damas 3, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Sri Hartamas, KL

Open daily (except Mon closed) 10am-6pm

Web: orito-kl.com

FB: facebook.com/oritokl/

IG: instagram.com/orito_kl/

Wise Crafters

To purchase their Be Oatsome Christmas Combo, visit wisecrafters.my/products/be-oatsome-this-christmas/

Ground Coffee

No. 27, Jalan SS 21/34, Damansara Utama, PJ

Open daily 10am-6pm

FB: facebook.com/groundcoffeekl/

IG: instagram.com/groundcoffeekl/

Sunday Coffee & Cakes

14, Jalan Selera 1, Taman Bukit Indah, KL

Open daily 9am-6pm

FB: facebook.com/people/Sunday-Coffee-Cakes/100063545554844/

IG: instagram.com/sundaycoffeeandcakes/