Christmas is one of my favourite times to indulge in cooking and eating. I really enjoy making special treats like Panforte.
Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembles fruitcake. It may date back as far as 13th century Siena, in Italy’s Tuscany region. Documents from 1205 show that panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax which was due on the seventh of February that year. Literally, panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavour. The original name of panforte was “panpepato” (peppered bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake. There are references to the Crusaders carrying panforte, a durable confection, with them on their quests, and to the use of panforte in surviving sieges.
Currently there are many shops in Italy producing panforte, each recipe a jealously guarded interpretation of the original confection and packaged in distinctive wrapping. Usually a small wedge is served with coffee or a dessert wine after a meal, though some enjoy it with their coffee at breakfast.
I use mostly organic, Australian ingredients and this first batch has a dollop of son Hugh’s home made chestnut jam added. Sometimes I include leatherwood honey instead, or even blackcurrant jam but always there’s plenty of brandy!
In addition to selling Panforte at the Cygnet Market, I’m taking orders for anyone who would like some Panforte made for Christmas.
Last orders for both Panfortes will probably be Friday 6th December for collection on or before Sunday 15th December (the last Cygnet Market of 2013). Contact me here or ask about Panforte at the next Cygnet Market.