Panforte is an Italian dessert that is made of flour, sugar, fruits and nuts, which resembles a fruitcake. It is traditionally prepared in Italy since centuries. The word “Panforte’ means ‘strong bread’ and is called so because of its spicy flavor on account of use of pepper. It is most popular in Sienna, which is also known as the Panforte capital of Italy.
History of Panforte
Panforte is known to have been prepared as early as in 1205, when it was given to monks and nuns in the form of a tax that was paid on the 7th of February every year. It has been a part of Italian culinary tradition ever since. Religious crusaders were also known to carry it as a snack that lasted for many days on their journeys. Today there are a number of shops that prepare the dish commercially, and sell it in attractive packaging, but they closely guard their recipes to prevent competition.
Ingredients: Principal ingredients used according to the Panforte recipe include flour, honey, sugar, fruits, nuts, spices and icing sugar for coating the finished cake. Icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar is extremely fine sugar. The icing sugar used domestically usually contains some anti caking agent to prevent lump formation. Commonly used nuts as per Panforte recipe include almonds and hazelnuuts, while spices used include, cinnamon, allspice, ground white pepper, cloves and coriander. Candied form of citrus fruit pieces also form a part of the cake.
Method of Preparation: As per the Panforte recipe, nuts like almonds and hazelnuts are first toasted in the oven, then shaken well to remove skins. Sugar and honey mixture is prepared by heating the two together till the sugar dissolves. After this, the flour is mixed with fruits, nuts, spices and the mixture of honey and sugar. The mixture is then baked in a greased baking pan, till golden brown. The cake is dusted with icing sugar and stored in an air tight container. The Panforte recipe shows variations in ingredients used for preparing different kinds of variants.
Serving Panforte Dish
It is served as a dessert after a meal, often with coffee or drinks. It is also eaten with coffee during breakfast. It is served in the form of small wedges, and is a popular Christmas dessert.
Panforte Dish Variants
The cake was introduced in a chocolate coated variant in the 1820s, by the Parenti bakery. It became hugely popular at that time.
Two newer variants, Panforte Margherita and Panforte Nero are most popular in modern times. The first is light colored and of a very delicate taste, while the second one is of dark color and flavored with bitter almonds, hence bittersweet in taste.
Health and Nutrition Facts about Panforte
Panforte is a good source of instant energy, and a number of essential nutrients are present in it on account of the fruits and nuts used. However, it contains quite a number of calories due to the use of sugar.
Panforte Dessert: Trivia
It is sometimes considered in Sienna that the cake should contain a total of 17 ingredients, 17 being the number of contrades or districts in Sienna.