Panforte

A traditional Italian cake containing fruits and nuts which dates back to 13th century Siena, Tuscany. It literally means strong bread, referring to its spicy flavour. If garam masala seems a strange addition this is simply because this spice blend contains all but the coriander powder required in this recipe.

This dense rich cake is best enjoyed sliced thinly with a glass of sweet wine or a cup of strong expresso.


Origin: Italian
Serves: 1x20cm cake

Serves20cm Origin Europe
Preparation 15-20mins Heat rating (No heat)
Cooking 15 mins Ease (Easy)
Vegetarian No

Ingredients

1 tsp Indian Garam Masala
tsp Ground Coriander
115g whole roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
115g blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
130g candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
130g candied lemon peel, very finely chopped
40g dried figs, coarsely chopped
zest of 1 lemons
70g plain flour
2 tbsps cocoa powder
pinch ground white pepper
150g sugar
260g honey
30g butter
icing sugar, for dusting

Preparation

Use a 20cm (ideally a springform) pan - butter and flour and line with baking paper. Set aside until ready. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place the chopped hazelnuts, almonds, orange peel and citron into a large bowl and stir well to get an even mix. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and spices - once again stirring well to ensure it's well distributed.

In a saucepan, place the sugar, honey and butter and heat over low flame. Stir constantly to ensure it doesn't stick to your pan. Using a candy thermometer - cook the mix until it reaches 120°C.

You've got to be quick for this next part as this syrup cools rapidly and turns the mix hard.

Pour the syrup as soon as it reaches the correct temperature into the dry ingredients - it can help to have a person helping you. Quickly stir the syrup through until well blended then pour into your prepared pan. Smooth the top off with a flat-metal spatula - if you find it's getting too hard, dip your spatula into boiling water to heat it up - you'll find that it will make getting a flat surface easier.

Cook in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. The panforte doesn't colour and even when it's cooked it will look soft and runny. Don't be tempted to overcook as you'll end up with something you won't be able to cut. The mix will harden as the cake cools - ideally it should have a flexible feel to it, similar to soft nougat.

Let the cake start to cool in the pan - when the centre feels solid, remove it from the pan and turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. When cold, dust heavily with icing sugar - it's needs to be a really thick coating.

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