Panforte – Siena cake
Matthew Evans’ recipe for panforte differs from most others with the addition of some Golden Syrup, but I reckon that’s an important part of the taste of this version of a year round favourite . Usually the reccomendation is to make a sugar syrup, using a confectioners thermometer to get to the stage before it turns to toffee. When you’ve already got that richness with Golden Syrup, you can relax a bit. Pressing it into the tin when it’s hot is the only thing to watch.
I used our own hazelnuts in a freak year when we got to them before the cockatoos, use Australian hazelnuts if you can. I just mixed in some macadamias for show. The nuts in the first batch where consequently too large and crushing them a bit made for a better result and the sugar/honey mix covered the ingredients better.
The rice paper needs to be cut to fit neatly if you want to have a slicker presentation for gifts but it looks ok ‘rustic’ to me.
750g roasted unsalted mixed nuts (brazil nuts, almonds, macadamias and hazelnuts) 750g mixed dried fruit (such as dates, figs, raisins, citrus peel)
75g dark chocolate, grated
I tbsp ground cinnamon
I tsp ground cloves
I tsp ground nutmeg
I tsp ground mace
I tsp allspice
240g plain flour, sifted
Preheat the oven to I80C. Grease two 21 cm round sponge tins and line the base and sides with baking paper. Line it again with three to four rice paper sheets, overlapping if necessary. (I actually often cook it without the rice paper when I can’t find the right stuff in the shops.) Heat the sugar, golden syrup and honey in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Whisk until dissolved, then simmer for a further three minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix together the nuts, fruit, chocolate, spices and flour and fold into the sugar mixture while still warm, using your hands when the mixture has cooled enough.
Divide the mixture into two and press firmly onto the rice paper in each tin, trying to make it as even as possible. The mixture can stick to your fingers, so take care not to lift it off the paper. Cover the top of each round with the remaining rice paper to make an even layer and press down well. Where the paper overlaps, you can tear off once the panforte has been cooked. Even if not using paper, be sure to press the mixture well into the tin to avoid air pockets.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, it just needs to heat through but not darken noticeably. Allow to cool and set slightly before trying to remove the panforte from the tin. To serve, cut into very thin slices (about two bites worth each).
From The Real Food Companion, by Matthew Evans. Murdoch Books.
Confectioner’s rice paper, used in Italian and other European sweet cookery, is available from Italian delicatessens and speciality food stores.
Matthew Evans’ recipe for panforte differs from most others with the addition of some Golden Syrup, but I reckon that’s an important part of the taste of this version of a year round favourite.