Chef Joanne Weir recently showed us how to make her panforte recipe. If you’re not familiar yet with panforte, this deeply spiced cake of nuts and our California Dried Figs will become a new winter tradition.
What is Panforte
Originating in Siena, Italy, this honey cake is sturdy and a delightful treat first thing in the morning with coffee or, as Joanne suggests, with sweet vermouth later in the day. Translated from Italian, panforte means “strong bread.” The chewy texture lands somewhere between cake and candy.
Shop Your Pantry to Make Panforte
This panforte recipe leans on a few key ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. First, our Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Mission Dried Figs are the star ingredient, lending their deep sweetness and the sparkle of their seeds. Chopped toasted almonds and hazelnuts with a hot honey syrup and spiced flour mix together in this “fruit cake.”
From years of cooking in professional kitchens and teaching, Joanne shares her pro-tip for removing the hazelnut skins efficiently through a quick boil in water laced with baking powder. The skins would add a bitter note to the cake and her method ensures the skins will loosen so they can be easily removed.
Winter Spices to Warm Up to
Spices give the cake its festive merry flavor as cinnamon and nutmeg cozy up to allspice and clove—you could even call this panforte “clove assertive” with citrusy coriander making an appearance. The winter spices lend their warmth to a cake rooted in the holidays. After it bakes and cools, the final act is one of merry-making magic: sifting confectioner’s sugar on top as if blanketed with snow.
How to Ship and Store Panforte
If you like to create homemade gifts for the holidays, this panforte recipe is ideal. The sturdiness of the cake makes it a great candidate for a shipped gift. To store the panforte, Joanne suggests wrapping it first in wax paper and then wrapping it in foil or plastic wrap. It can keep at room temperature for several months, well wrapped.
- 3/4 cup almonds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 1 1/4 cups Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Dried Figs , chopped
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat an oven to 375F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment cut to fit precisely.
- Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In the meantime, in a saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and add the hazelnuts in a saucepan. Don’t be surprised when the water turns dark brown. Boil for 3 minutes. After three minutes, using a slotted spoon, remove the hazelnuts from the boiling water and add them to a bowl of ice water. Using your fingers, peel the skins. If the skins don’t come off, boil the nuts for 1 to 2 minutes longer and peel. Dry the nuts with paper towels and place on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until fragrant and light golden about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Place the almonds and hazelnuts on the work surface, coarsely chop and place in a large bowl. Reduce the oven to 350F.
- Add the chopped dried figs, flour, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, allspice and pepper to the nuts and mix well.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey and sugar and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Add this mixture into the nut mixture, mixing well.
- Transfer the batter to a prepared pan and with wet hands, press the mixture evenly into the pan.
- Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and invert the pan onto a cooling rack. Lift off the pan and when cool, remove the parchment paper.
- Place on a platter and dust the top liberally with confectioners’ sugar.