Elegant and Easy-To-Make, Panforte Is Perfect For Your New Year’s Buffet



Panforte, literally “strong bread” in Italian, originated in Sienna in the middle ages as a sort of tribute paid to the monks and nuns, or so the story goes. In any case, it’s now a rich, fruit and nut cake made for the holidays and enjoyed all over Italy and a good many other places as well. High end stores sell panforte at steep prices, but you can easily make it at home. This maple syrup-sweetened version goes together quickly and bakes in only about 35 minutes. Serve with coffee or tea.



(recipe adapted from the Esalen Cookbook)

preheat oven to 350˚ F/ serves 12-16

1 1/4 cups water

3/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch salt

1 1/4 cups raisins, lightly packed

1 cup chopped dried apples and pears

1 cup unbleached flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1. Measure the first nine ingredients, including the apples and pears, into a large sauce pan and heat just until everything comes to boil. Turn off the heat and let it sit a few minutes.

2. Meanwhile, measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda and almonds into a medium mixing bowl.  Stir together well to combine.

3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir together to thoroughly combine.

4. Pour into an oiled, preferably round, 10″ cake or tart pan. Spread, and smooth to make it even.

5. Bake in a preheated 350˚F oven 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. Cool on a wire rack before attempting to cut.

7. While I usually don’t use refined sugar in any form, because it is traditional for this cake and because I was making this for a New Year’s party, I dusted it with a little bit of powdered sugar.

4 responses

  1. this recipe looks totally delicious. I can never get over how many cooks still use canola oil though. it is one of the most toxic oils due to being highly sprayed (it is rapeseed in the cotton family) and it is GMO crop. you can use organic canola oil but i find extra light olive oil works fantastic in baking.

  2. A friend who lived and worked at Esalen gave me their beautiful cookbok as a gift and the panforte recipe was one that I thought was particularly delicious (The triangle turnovers and the lentil curry are also great). Your panforte looks lovely, Happy New Year!

  3. Your panforte was very delicious for a finishing touch on yet another newyear party gathering, Thank you Gary, and for all those recipes and pictures throughout the year(s)…..

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