Greg Wade, the head baker at Chicago’s Publican Quality Bread, credits his passion for panettone to Philadelphia’s Marc Vetri, who sent his own delicious panettone to Wade every year, inspiring Wade to try his hand at the notoriously difficult bread. But even a highly trained and experienced baker like Wade struggled to get it just right—so much so that it took an impromptu visit from yet another chef, the renowned Italian pizzaiolo Gabriele Bonci, to tell Wade he was doing it all wrong. After the two men went through multiple tries and tweaks, Wade got it right. Now he gifts and sells the loaves every Christmas, making every single one himself.
To roast and skin hazelnuts, preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 7 minutes, until golden. Let cool slightly, then transfer them to a kitchen towel and rub off most of the skins.
Panettone molds are available at baking supply stores or at Sur la Table.