Panforte – An Italian Christmas Favourite

One of my Youtube subscribers asked me if I had ever made Panforte.  The simple answer was no.  In fact I hadn’t really heard of Panforte so I looked it up and watched a few videos.  Panforte is a type of dense, chewy, cake which is made with nuts, normally almonds and candied peel. 

There appears to be a ‘white’ version and a ‘black’ version.  The difference between the two usually means the addition of cocoa powder and some white pepper in the black version.  It seems that the cake originates from Siena in Italy.

Although I saw some recipes and videos that included different fruits, such as dried figs, prunes and soft dried apricots and a host of different types of nuts, I decided to stick with what I believe to be the more traditional ingredients of almonds and candied orange and citron peel.  I did, however make one concession, that of using some hazelnuts as well as I really love the flavour of hazelnuts. 

The cake is very easy to make and doesn’t really take very long. It is usual to line the bottom of the cake tin with edible rice paper, which sticks to the cake and is eaten with it.  However since I didn’t have any edible rice paper I decided to use parchment paper and to remove that after baking.  That would leave the bottom sticky so, as well as coating the top, I also coated the bottom with icing sugar to stop it sticking to the serving plate.

That worked very well indeed as did the entire process to leave me with a very tasty cake, with a chewy fudge-like texture and filled with the wonderful flavours and textures of the fruit and nuts. 

The cake is very good indeed and perfect for Christmas.

Panforte 
Panforte – Video

Ingredients:

  • 260g(2 cups) almonds and hazelnuts( I used 2/3 almonds and 1/3 hazelnuts)
  • 320g(2 cups) candied peel(or chopped mixed peel will work very well too) chopped into small cubes
  • 300g(1 1/2 cups) caster or granulated sugar
  • 150g(1/2 cup) honey
  • 160g(1 cup + 2 tbsp) plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • Icing sugar for coating top and bottom, and sides if desired.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/430F.
  2. Grease an 8 inch cake tin(preferably with a loose bottom) and line the base with edible rice paper or parchment paper.
  3. Place the sugar and honey into a saucepan and heat until all the sugar is dissolved into the honey and the mixture just begins to bubble.  Use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush off any sugar which coats the inside of the pan as everything heats up.
  4. Mix the spices into the flour.
  5. In a large bowl place the nuts, flour and candied peel and mix together until all is coated in the flour.
  6. Pour the melted sugar and honey into the dry mixture and stir to combine everything.   You will need something like a sturdy wooden spoon as the mixture becomes very hard to combine.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and use a spoon dipped in water to press the mixture down until it is flattened, level all over and completely covering the base of the cake tin.  You can use a wet hand too.
  8. Sprinkle about 10g of icing sugar over the top.
  9. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cook for about 6 minutes.
  11. Use a knife to loosen the edge of the cake from the side of the tin. 
  12. Remove the cake, still on the base, from the tin.
  13. If you used edible rice paper simply place the cake on a wire rack to cook completely.
  14. If you used parchment paper turn the cake out, upside down, on paper towel,  remove the parchment paper and and sprinkle the base of the cake with icing sugar using a hand to rub all over.  Use enough icing sugar to coat the bottom so it isn’t sticky. Allow the cake to cool for another 10 minutes and then turn over and remove the paper towel.
  15. Sprinkle icing sugar all over the top and rub with a hand to coat the top, and the sides too if you wish.
  16. Allow the cake to cool, so it firms up enough to cut cleanly for serving.





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