Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Panforte (traditional Tuscan cake)

Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembling fruitcake or Lebkuchen. It may date back to 13th century Siena, in Italy's Tuscany region. Documents from 1205 show that Panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe. Literally, panforte means "strong bread" which refers to the spicy flavour. The original name of panforte was "panpepato" (peppered bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake.

In the process of making Panforte, sugar is dissolved in honey and brought to a temperature 240 degrees.  The thick, sticky solution is then added to a combination of dried organic Mission figs from California, candied orange and lemon peal from Holland, whole almonds and raisins from California.  Flour (just enough to hold everything together), spices and a dash of black ground pepper are added...and then the mixture is baked until done.

Panforte Tuscano...

Sugar and honey are boiled to 240.

Toasted almonds and dried fruits are combined with flour, spices a bit of cocoa and a touch of black pepper. This forms a VERY sticky mass.

Over three pounds of batter is deposited into lined cake pans.

The panforte is baked for an hour at very low temperature.

After cooling, each 9" round is cut into units, wrapped and ready to enjoy. It's best eaten, cut into very thin slices, after dinner with a good port or dessert wine, tea or coffee.

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