Today I’d like to share with you a traditional Christmas recipe from the beautiful Tuscan town of Siena: Panforte di Siena. Literally, panforte means “strong bread” which refers to its spicy flavour and it is a very ancient recipe. It appears that panforte was already made in the 1200’s and guess what? It used to be prepared by the chemists of the town! It was also very expensive due to the extensive use of almonds and spices, so only rich people could afford it. I love its rich spice mix and a bite is enough to make me think of Christmas! You can easily buy ready-made Italian panforte here in Sydney, but as you know I believe that home-made is always better. So, I thought of making my own this Christmas. I cut it in wedges and added it to the Christmas hamper I made for my friends. It was delicious and surprisingly, really easy to make! Ready to learn how to make your own?
Panforte di Siena
Panforte - a traditional Christmas cake from Siena made with almonds, honey and spices.
- 350 gms – 12 oz. mixed citrus peel chopped
- 400 gms – 14 oz. almonds toasted
- 150 gms – 1 cup flour
- 20 gms – 2.5 tbsp cinnamon powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp clove powder
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
- 280 gms – 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 100 ml – 1/3 cup honey
- Icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 200°C – 390°F. Brush a 22cm – 8.5 inch springform pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base with baking paper (traditionally we use a very thin wafer). Line the sides of the pan with baking paper as well. Keep aside.
In a bowl, mix together the citrus peel, toasted almonds, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, pepper and stir until well combined.
Place the honey and sugar in a pot and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, without stirring, for 2 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 116°C – 240°F or 'soft ball stage' (If you don't have a thermometer, drop 1 teaspoonful of syrup into a glass of cold water. If the syrup becomes a soft ball it's at soft ball stage.)
Stir in the almond and fruit mixture and, working quickly, stir until well combined.
Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the base of a wet glass.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 30 or until just firm (the longer you bake it, the harder, so the cooking time depends on your liking).
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Dust the Panforte with icing sugar and cut into thin wedges to serve.