Carol Field'sĀ Panforte

December 19, 2012
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 1 cake
Author Notes

Very lightly adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field (Ten Speed Press, 2011). This is a traditional panforte recipe--but if you do not have white pepper (the medieval touch, Field says) or candied citron, do not let that stop you. (I've used all orange peel before; I've also used orange and lemon peel. Both are against the rules; both are delicious.) Also: candying your own peel is surprisingly easy and fast--you do not have to be orthodox about it. (David Lebovitz's Ready For Dessert has a low-key technique for soft-candied peel.) Finally, if you only have raw almonds, blanch them for two minutes and then pop them out of their skins. (It's fun!) —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup candied citron peel, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch ground white pepper
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • confectioners' sugar (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the hazelnuts and almonds on separate baking sheets until the almonds are a pale golden color and the hazelnut skins begin to peel off, approximately 15 minutes (but watch closely). Rub the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel until the skins come off. Coarsely chop both nuts. Then combine the nuts, the candied citrus, the lemon zest, all the spices, and the flour in a large mixing bowl. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  2. Butter the sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then line the pan with buttered parchment paper. In a large saucepan, heat the sugar, honey, and butter over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and measures between 242 and 248 degrees. (Or drop a small amount in cold water: it will form a ball.) This will take less time than you think. Working quickly, pour the syrup into the mixing bowl and stir diligently to combine it with the other ingredients-- the mixture will harden almost immediately. When it is blended, scoop it into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  3. Bake at 300 degrees for between 30 and 40 minutes. Do not worry if the cake does not look done: it will be spongy and wobbly, but it will harden out of the oven. Cool on a rack until firm, then remove the pan sides and invert onto a plate. For a traditional panforte, dust with a blizzard of confectioners' sugar.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Panfusine
  • Andy
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    Bri Lavoie
  • cmac
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

4 Reviews

cmac December 26, 2012
Thank you Nicholas! Great recipe. I love panforte but had never tackled making it. It was fun, and forgiving of my changes and having to pause to cook other things. I made a double batch of this for Christmas and it was really highlight. I made my own candied orange peel, as I couldnt find it, and though I left the pith and the peel was very soft, it worked great in the recipe. I also added a couple of things from David Leibovitz's version: cocoa (I used 5 tb for the doubled batch) and a good spoonful of nutmeg and a bit of allspice and cardamom. the favors melded wonderfully. My dad hates cinnamon, so I needed to kick up the spice in other ways. The cocoa added richness but it wasn't overtly chocolatey at all, the fruit and nut flavors were prominent.

Though it is not too sweet at all, I'm curious whether one could make it any less so. Maybe the batter would be too hard to spread with less syrup?

In any case, a total success and everyone is still talking about it, and I have an extra one to give away chunks of and nibble on for weeks.
Panfusine December 24, 2012
Made this yesterday using a chai spice blend , It was amazing.. the end product looks just like the one in the photograph, but Is the texture supposed to be chewy, reminiscent of a soft taffy??
Andy December 23, 2012
I am intrigued by this recipe and want to know if i can store a panforte the same way I would a traditional fruitcake; meaning, can I macerate the fruit with a liqueur before baking and store the fruitcake with a generous dose of the same liqueur? Will it keep the same as a fruitcake?
Bri L. December 23, 2012
I had my first intro to panforte in Volterra, and I was hooked. Sienna may be the more famous source, but this stuff is gorgeous. I have an Italian grandmother's recipe (not mine) and because it lacks details like amounts for the spices, I've not ventured to try it. Now I'm super excited to make my own. Thanks!