Panforte / Sienna Cake – this one’s with a twist…

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!



7 thoughts on “Panforte / Sienna Cake – this one’s with a twist…

  1. Aha, this is a very timely cake recipe – I was wondering if you will have something for me to make for my Christmas dinner dessert. I remember I had so much fun following your Christmas Pudding recipe last year! 😆

    Thank you for sharing this and I will let you know how my Panforte/Sienna Cake turns out.

    Big hugs to you, dear sweetrosie!

    choesf 😀

  2. Oh perfect! That sounds delicious – especially with the wattleseed and pepperberries. I’m making most of my Christmas presents this year so this looks like it might fit in with the tubs of Turkish Delight and fudge. Does it keep well? With the honey and the lack of liquid, it looks like I could make this a few weeks in advance.

  3. Hey there ninazero 🙂 This is perfect to make in advance. It stores very well indeed. You’re right – the honey/sugar syrup sets the confection and helps in the preservation.

    Making all the Christmas pressies?? Brilliant idea. Last year I made nougat, I liked it, nobody else did:it stuck in monty’s fillings. Fudge sounds nice, what kind? Do you remember all those slices with condensed milk, coconut, squashed-up biscuits and the like? Here’s a hot tip *shssshhh* I think they are in for a retro revampy return, so get ready to break out the glace cherries and copha… 🙂

  4. hello my dear choesf 🙂 I hope that you have fun making the panforte, and I especially hope your family and guests like it 🙂 Have a look online and see what it costs to buy, that should impress anyone who is still doubtful LOL
    love and hugs xx

  5. Last year I made a dark chocolate fudge with the idea that the kids would leave it alone because it uses a 70% bitter chocolate. No dice. The little buggers stuffed themselves. It was easy to track the offenders – they had a big ring of cocoa around their mouths. Sort of like reverse blackface makeup. So funny.

    This year I was going to branch out to butterscotch, mint and perhaps Irish Coffee. We’ll see how enthusiastic I feel.

    Nougat sounds good – I LOVE the stuff (such a shame when Callard & Bowser took theirs off the market). What recipe did you use?

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