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Fig Panforte

Panforte – Siena Cake 


Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, believed to date back to 13th century Siena, Italy’s Tuscany region. Documents from 1205 show that Panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe which was due on the seventh of February that year. Literally,  (Wikipedia

Traditionally a small wedge is served with coffee or a dessert wine after a meal.

I have adapted a traditional recipe to contain mainly figs(because I love them and it works really well) but each region and household  in Italy seem to have their own version.

I hope my Italian friends approve of the recipe too!

This recipe is for my Mum who didn’t want to spend time baking the traditional English Christmas cake this year. I convinced her that this Italian Christmas cake is very quick and easy to make so she said she would make it if I posted it! Here you go Mum


  • 300g blanched almonds
  • 350g figs, roughly chopped
  • 50g candied lemon
  • 100g flour (or ground almonds can be substituted for gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamon
  • ½  tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 200g honey
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. 
  2. Prepare a 28cm x 18cm baking tin by lining it with greaseproof paper and also greasing the paper. 
  3. Roast almonds in oven till golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, almonds and spices.
  5. In a pan over a low heat, melt the honey and sugar till dissolved and gently boil for 2 minutes.
  6. Add figs to the cooked honey and sugar and gently boil for a further 2 minutes. 
  7. In a microwave or over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate pieces, being careful not to overcook them.
  8. Add honey and fig mixture, melted chocolate to the nuts and and flour mixture.
  9. Stir the mixture well with a wooden spoon (working quickly, it is easier to do this while the mixture is still hot.
  10. With wet hand, press down to spread the mixture and make a smooth, flat surface.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  12. Cool on a cake rack then cut into 3cm-wide pieces.
  13. Store in an airtight container. Panforte will keep for a few weeks stored this way.

I make my panforte into 7 individual round cakes by pressing the mixture into a round ring (Little fried egg rings or very large cookie cutters would work if you don’t have a professional mould). I then wrap them individually and give them as gifts.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh Allison … after the sorbet now the panforte… and what a nice recipe…I really like it and I think I am going to try it… for Christmas… my grandfather was born in Siena… so… I will bake it for him!!! Thanks for the recipe!

    December 15, 2008
  2. Bev Heaysman #

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe! My husband is Gluten intolerant and so he cannot have conventional Christmas Cake. Finally he will be able to have his own “Christmas” cake. I saw Jamie Oliver on TV last night and his Italian Chef friend on the show said that in some areas of Italy they put black pepper in their Panforte. I wonder what that would be like??

    December 18, 2008
    • peasepudding #

      The recipe does contain 100g flour but I am certain you could substitute it for 100g of ground almonds

      December 18, 2008

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