What is panforte?
For Tuscans, and nowadays many Italians, panforte means Christmas. A centuries-old tradition from the province of Siena, panforte is a rich cake made of almonds, candied peel, and honey peppered with winter spices, with a unique flavour and texture. There are several variations on the recipe for panforte, but to create this one, I went back to the official requirements of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture for Panforte di Siena IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta). If you fancy something different, I also created a cherry, hazelnut, and chocolate version which you can find here.
Unlike many traditional British Christmas sweetmeats, panforte is suitable for vegetarians without adaptation. You can enjoy it with coffee, tea, or even a dessert wine or vin santo. The ingredients in the recipe below are the official ones. You can of course, substitute plain flour for ‘0’, any clear honey for the millefiori, and candied lemon peel for the citron. Citron is a fruit very much like a lemon, but distinct. I’ll be blogging about it later in the week. You can also leave out the rice paper disc, if you wish, but be sure to butter the bottom of the tin in that case and to remove it before it cools completely, or it will stick.
You can find a video of me making this recipe here.
- 1 sheet rice paper
- 150g (1 cup) type ‘0’ flour
- 200g (2 cups) unpeeled almonds, toasted
- 5g (1 teaspoon) ground coriander
- 3g (1/2 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- 1g (1/4 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- 1g (1/4 teaspoon) ground cloves
- 220g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 50g (3 tablespoons) Tuscan millefiore honey
- 50g (1/4 cup) water
- 220g (3 cups) candied orange peel, cubed
- 150g (2 cups) candied citron peel, cubed
- icing sugar
1. Grease a round 22 cm (9 inch) cake tin, line the bottom with rice paper and the sides with greaseproof paper.
2. Mix the flour, almonds, and spices together in a bowl.
3. Put the sugar, honey, and water in a saucepan and heat very gently to melt the sugar and honey together. Be careful not to let the mixture caramelize.
4. Add the candied peel to the syrup and stir to coat the peel, about 30 seconds.
5. Add the syrup and peel to the flour, almonds, and spices. Mix thoroughly to form a dry but coherent mixture.
6. Place the mixture in the tin and press down with a spoon to ensure that the mixture is distributed evenly. Don’t worry if the surface is a bit rough.
7. Bake for 20 minutes at 220°C (430°F). Don’t worry if the cake seems very soft when it comes out of the oven. Let it cool down completely.
8. Remove the cake from the tin and discard the greaseproof paper. Cover the top with sifted icing sugar. Buon appetito!
5 thoughts on “Christmas in Italy: Panforte (recipe)”
Panforte is the best! I tried your panforte recipe (if this is the same one) a few years ago and it was amazing. I have not made it again because I would eat the whole thing myself. Maybe i’ll make it again but invite people over to help me at it? Yum. Ciao, Cristina
My panforte:Mix in a separate bowl: 1.5 cups of whole almonds, 1/2 cups dried cranberries and chopped dried figs, 3 T dry cocoa powder, 2 t cinnamon, 1 t ground cloves, 1/2 t nutmeg, grated zests of two lemons and two oranges. Take to a soft ball boil temperature 1/2 cup each sugar and honey. Pour over dry ingredients and quickly mix to coat evenly, spread into a greased 8″ spring form pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes. Dust with powder sugar. Optional: firm up powder sugar coating a bit under the broiler- watch carefully for this step. It is done when the center is just no longer moist to your careful finger touch. Don’t over bake, and never let the sugar/honey reach the hard ball stage. Otherwise you have a holiday door stop.
Thanks for sharing! Sounds excellent!
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