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
candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
candied citron peel, finely chopped
lemon zest, grated
freshly grated nutmeg
ground white pepper
confectioners' sugar (optional)
In This Recipe
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.
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.
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.