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Panforte di Siena

Technically, this is an Italian Christmas treat, but I like to make it all year round because a) it’s so easy and delicious and b) it’s makes a perfect gift. You can always use less Christmassy dried fruit and spices if making it in the summer - and, like all my favourite things, it can be made up of whatever you have in your store cupboard - making it the perfect zero-food waste cake :)


1 tsp flavourless oil

Baking paper

300g nuts, toasted and chopped (I like to use walnuts and almonds)

50g candied peel, finely chopped

250g dried fruit, chopped (I normally use dates / figs and apricots)

50g plain flour (you could also substitute for gluten-free flour)

1 tsp cinnamon

1tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

125g honey (or agave nectar if vegan)

150g golden caster sugar 

3 tbsp fortified wine or liqueur (I use sherry)

Lots of icing sugar, to dust


1.       Heat oven to 150 C.

2.       Grease and line the base of a 20cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.

3.       Toast the nuts and when cool chop roughly.

4.       Tip the nuts, candied peel and dried fruit into a bowl.

5.       Sift over the flour and spices and mix together well.

6.       Heat the honey, sugar and wine in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Bubble for 3 minutes of as soon as the sugar has melted. Pour the hot liquid over the fruit and nuts, then mix. It will start to stick together quickly as the liquid cools so try and do this fast 😊

7.       Scrape the mixture into the tin and use the back of a wet metal spoon to flatten it.

8.       Bake for 35 mins until the surface is still soft but not sticky – it will firm up as it cools.

9.       Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove the panforte using a palette knife.

10.   If using baking parchment, peel it off and discard it.

11.   Leave to cool completely on a wire rack, then dust generously with icing sugar, rubbing the sugar gently into the surface.

12.   N.B. it will keep well an airtight tin for one month.