Now, I have made this many times, and I did make one this weekend but…it got gobbled up and so I am relying on a photo from this lovely website:
Now I have that (very important) bit out of the way let me tell you the story.
Panforte,or Sienna cake as it is sometimes known is a rich, spicy kind of cake dating from 12th century Italy. It is dense with toasted nuts and glace and/or dried fruits and heady with spices. Bound with a syrup of honey and sugar it is served in tiny wedges – perfect with coffee or fortified wines.
Just the most perfectly lovely thing for Christmas, it makes a a very special gift – have a look at the price you have to pay for a wedge in the shops – ooh,la,la, so pricey! Of course, all those fruits and nuts do cost a few $$ but it is a very sophisticated, very delicious treat for guests or to give as a special gift.
Now, there is another twist to this story. My director asked me to develop a corporate Christmas gift to give out to very special VIPs at the Christmas “do”. I thought that panforte with some of the traditional ingredients substitued with native flavours would be just the ticket 🙂
We will wrap it in cellophane,tie it with narrow ochre and black ribbons and pop on a lovely little tag and piece of curly bark for the finishing touch.
The orignal recipe is from a now defunct Australian food magazine called Successful Entertaining. This recipe was in the 1986 Autumn/Winter edition.
- 125g blanched toasted almonds (I left the skins on)
- 125g hazelnuts ( I used macadamias and pistachios; about 100g of macadamia and roughly 50g of pistachios)
- 50g mixed peel ( I used an extra 50g fruits instead of mixed peel and just used the zest of an orange and a lemon for the citrus component)
- 130g glace fruit (so, here I used 180g different dried fruits like figs, muscatel raisins, dried apricots and glace ginger. The mix is your choice, glace only, glace and dried – whatever you fancy)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa (use a good quality one, it will make a difference. Please do not use drinking choccy or hot choc mix)
- 75gplain flour
- 1tsp cinnamon ( I used 2 teaspoons of ground wattleseed and 4 crushed pepper berries as well)
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup honey (I used Australian organic bush honey)
Coarsely chop the fruit.Toast the nuts in the oven on a baking sheet until they are all nice and toasty brown. Be careful nuts get toasty brown very quickly LOL
Put into a bowl with the fruits, cocoa, flour and spices.
Put the sugar and honey into a small pan, heat slowly until the sugar dissolves. Then boil gently until the sugar has dissolved and it reaches soft-ball stage (115C)
Put this quickly into the bowl and mix very quickly.
Well grease and line the tin, with baking paper.I used a springform round tin. It was 20-23cm, round abouts, this cake is not supposed to be more than a centremetre or two high.
Press down well and smooth the tops
Bake in a 150C oven for 30-35 minutes.
Leave in the tins to cool.
Dust the top with icing sugar. I added a teaspoon of ground wattleseed to the sugar for an added Australian twist.
Write and let me know what you think!