Makes 1 x 16-18cm cake
Panforte translates into strong bread, though it is in fact more of a festive sweet thing you would eat after a meal. Historically it’s known as Siena cake as the Italian city is thought to be the first to get into cooking with sugar and spices such as white pepper. Adding chocolate is a more recent variation, but even so it still retains that medieval flavour. You can keep your panforte wrapped in foil for 2-3 months, so now is the time to get cooking.
- 4-5 sheets of rice paper (wafer paper, opłatek)
- 110g hazelnuts
- 110g whole almonds
- 125g candied mixed peel, preferably the chunky Italian style, chopped
- 100g candied pineapple chopped into 1/3cm pieces
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 75g plain flour
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- Pinch of white pepper
- 1 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
- 150g caster sugar
- 4tbsp honey
- 50g unsalted butter
- Icing sugar to finish
- Line a 16-18cm cake tin with a removable bottom, or a flan ring on a baking sheet, with the rice paper, allowing enough overlapping the edges to fold back over and completely cover the cake once filled.
- Toast the nuts under a hot grill, turning them so they brown evenly, then leave to cool.
- Put the nuts in a bowl with the mixed peel, pineapple, lemon zest, flour, spices and cocoa powder and mix well.
- Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC (300?C).
- Put the sugar, honey and butter into a saucepan and melt them, stirring occasionally so they are well mixed.
- Simmer for 3-5 minutes until the syrup reaches 120ºC on a sugar thermometer or a little of it dropped into cold water forms a soft ball when moulded between your finger and thumb.
- Pour the syrup into the nut mixture and quickly mix well with a wooden spoon before it stiffens too much.
- Transfer into the lined tin and push into the edges and smooth the surface.
- Fold over the surplus rice paper completely covering the top and push some tin foil on top so the rice paper doesn’t burn.
- Bake for 35 minutes then leave to cool in the tin.
To serve, remove from the tin, and dust with icing sugar. Wrap tightly in foil to keep the air out.