Panforte is a delicious Italian fruit cake from Siena, made with honey, nuts and candied fruit. The perfect Christmas cake to share with friends and family.
If you know Italians and Christmas then you know that it isn’t Christmas until someone brings out the Panforte. More likely than not, its homemade.
But if you are a lover of candied fruit, nuts and honey then you are going to love this fruit cake.
It is an easy recipe, but you have to be organized and work quickly, below are some tips for making the best Panforte Recipe.
- Candied fruit
- Powdered sugar
What is Panforte?
It is originally from Siena which is in the region of Tuscany , the first evidence of this cake dates back to the year 1000.
At the time it was more of a honey-based focaccia and was called pan honey. Later fruit was added which fermented due to the heat. For this reason it had a more tart taste and because of that the name changed to Panforte.
To avoid the fermentation of fresh fruit it was then prepared only on the coldest days, so it became a typical Christmas cake.
There are now many different variations of this dessert, but the most famous being this white cake and a black Panforte also known as gingerbread.
How to make it
In a large bowl stir together the nuts and candied fruit. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour and spices.
In a small pot heat the honey, water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the honey mixture to the nut mixture and stir to combine.
Add the flour mixture and quickly combine well. (This is where using your hands would probably be best)
Place the mixture into the prepared cake pan and with wet hands or the bottom of a wet metal spoon flatten the batter so it is even.
Dust the top of the batter with a tablespoon of icing sugar before baking.
Bake in a slow oven for about 35-40 minutes.
Let the cake cool for about 10-15 minutes, then run a wet knife around the cake and remove. Place on a flat cake stand or plate and let cool completely before dusting with icing sugar. Slice with a sharp knife and serve.
Tips for making Panforte
- Get all your ingredients together before starting the recipe.
- Work fast
- Be sure to use a cake pan (a springform pan is best if you have one) and not a pie plate or you will have a dirty oven to clean. Trust me spilt honey and sugar is not fun.
- Line the pan with either parchment paper that has been greased and floured or rice paper.
- Use wet hands for evenly spreading the dough in the cake pan.
- Bake in a slow oven.
- Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes and then remove from the pan.
- Immediately place dirty pots and bowls in hot soapy water.
How to store it
The cake should be kept wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container, and kept in a cool dry area. It will keep for up to three weeks.
It can also be frozen, wrap the cake in a plastic wrap and then place in a freezer safe bag or container. It will keep up to six months.
More Traditional Italian Christmas recipes
So if you are looking for something traditionally Italian this Christmas, why not give Panforte a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!
- 3/4 cup whole almonds roasted* (100 grams)
- 3/4 cup whole hazelnuts roasted* (100 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups candied fruit** (280 grams)
- 1/4 cup +3 tablespoons honey (150 grams)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (125 grams)
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour (160 grams)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon coriander powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon powdered / icing sugar
*Roast the nuts on a cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350F (180C) oven for about 5-7 minutes. Remove nuts from the pan to a clean bowl. (This stops the nuts from over roasting)
**Try to use a good quality candied fruit – I used candied orange, citron and mixed fruit. You could also use chopped dates if you wish.
- 3-4 tablespoons powdered / icing sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 300F (150C). Grease and flour parchment paper to fit an 8 inch (20cm) cake pan.
- In a large bowl stir together the nuts and candied fruit. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour and spices. Set aside.
- In a small pot stir together the honey, water and sugar, heat on medium heat stirring until mixture starts to boil, lower the heat to slow boil for about 2-3 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved. (There will be no gritty bits on the spoon when you are stirring).
- Add the honey mixture to the nut mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture and quickly combine well. (This is where using your slightly wet hands would probably be best).
- Place the mixture into the prepared cake pan and with wet hands or the bottom of a wet metal spoon flatten the batter so it is even. Dust the top of the batter with a tablespoon of icing sugar before baking. Bake for about 30-40 minutes.
- Let the cake cool for about 10-15 minutes, then run a wet knife around the outside of the cake and remove. Place on a cake stand or plate and let cool completely before dusting with icing sugar. Slice with a sharp knife and serve. Enjoy!