The oldest and most noble Christmas cake is called Panforte
Without panforte Christmas would not be Christmas for Donatella Cinelli Colombini!
The old tradition of this Christmas cake from Siena goes back about a 1000 years . The name PanForte (Panes Fortis) came from the fact that the water in the fruit used to make the cake, kept it soft but at the same time gave origin to moulds which gave and acidic taste to the cake as well.
In 1505 the Panforte began to be a great success thanks Sister Berta, who, worried about the health of the soldiers. She modified the recipe so that is might become energetic for the body and spirit, adding an abundant dose of pepper (Pan Pepato)
During the years the Panforte has not been changed much until 1879 when Queen Margherita di Savoia came to visit the Palio city. Her visit was anticipated by an inspection by her chamberlain who also had the job of choosing the dishes for the “royal palate”. He had a more delicate version prepared for her eliminating the melon and substituting the pepper covering with icing sugar. That is how the Panforte Margherita was born
At Fattoria del Colle the panforte is prepared by the pateisseur and served freshly baked during the Christmas holidays and most of all during the New Years Eve dinner. Hopefully we can soon get back to normal in 2021!
INGREDIENTS FOR PANFORTE
600 g of candied orange and cedar, 300 g of almonds and 200 g of toasted hazelnuts, 200 g of acacia honey, 150 g of sugar, 3 eggs, 100 g of vanilla sugar, 5 dried figs, 150 g of flour, 30 g of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, greaseproof paper and hosts (to be bought in a chemists)
Put in a double bottom pan the honey and the sugar and melt slowly on a low flame continuously stirring. Then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and black pepper. After about 15 minutes the mixture is bubbly and amber coloured. While it is cooling a little, roughly break the dried fruit in a mortar. Mix the hazelnuts and almonds with the diced candied fruit, the flour and finally the cut up dried figs. Beat the egg whites until stiff and add to the fruit while mixing because you need a homogeneous mixture. However, at this point the mixture of honey and sugar will be quite dense, and must be added to the rest stirring well and making sure it is well blended. Now is the moment to coat the round baking tin with greaseproof paper putting the hosts on the bottom, after having softened them with butter or water.
Putting the mixture into the tin needs a certain amount of energy as the mixture must be well pressed. To choose well the size of the tin consider that the mixture must be about 3 cm thick. Bake the panforte in the oven for 20 min at 160°.
Remove the tin and the greaseproof paper only after having let the panforte cool down, at that point can be showered with abundant vanilla sugar.