Natalia Nikitina and her "Signor Lievito"
Milan, and Italy, are now getting ready for the holidays. We’ve just celebrated Saint Ambrose (the patron saint of Milan) and around the Castello Sforzesco the ‘mercatino di obei obei’ had filled the street with little stalls selling gifts and traditional Christmas treats. In addition to the roasted chestnut, candy almonds and marrons glacés are loaves of panettone wrapped up like presents.
Panettone, in fact, was born in Milan in the 15th Century and has become an Italian tradition, a brioche with candied fruit and raisins. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Natalia Nikitina, a baker who has been whipping up her own panettone, in our showroom over green tea and little marmalade brioche from Pasticceria Sissi just off Piazza Risorgimento. “These are the best because they use “pasta madre lievito” Natalia told me, referring to the sourdough yeast the bakery is known for. “The long fermentation keeps the dough from getting too tough and is much better for digestion.”
They were light, bouncy, and delicious—filled with the perfect amount of apricot jam. While enjoying them, I listened to Natalia tell me about the importance of natural yeast. She is in the process of creating her own micro-bakery, Signor Lievito, which will open in just a few months. Some years ago, she was in Naples with her husband Roberto and was given a small amount of sourdough culture. “It was 120 years old! A true old soul and I named him Signor,” Natalia told me. Not only did Signor make her baking better, but the desire and obligation to keep him alive turned into a business.
Here at Morpho + Luna, we were so taken with Natalia’s story, of the attention to detail, of the natural process, and of a small business blooming to life. We photographed Natalia in her home kitchen in Milan as she prepared loaves of wonderful sourdough while wearing her Morpho + Luna apron. The bread is light and fluffy with a crisp crust. As we tear into it the fruity perfume only achieved with a mature sourdough fills the air.
This December the 14th, Morpho + Luna and Signor Lievito will be celebrating together with a Christmas party you are all invited to. Natalia will host a tasting of her delicious Panettone ‘classico’. Until Signor Lievito officially opens in February at Via Maestri Campionesi 26, you can visit Natalia on Instagram @Signor_Lievito.
It is a true joy to work with inspiring women like Natalia, and we look forward to introducing her to you soon.
Founder and Creative Director