High-energy dessert for a training diet
Panforte is the traditional Christmas cake of Siena. It is deliciously chewy and sticky and is packed with a combination of energy-giving nuts, dried fruit and spices. It can be made with or without chocolate (we prefer the chocolate variety ... of course) and it can be kept for a couple of months if it is kept wrapped in foil in an airtight container.
Panforte is a fantastic energy food for exercise. You can squirrel it away in your cake tin and cut off a piece at a time when the mood takes you — before or after exercise or just when you fancy something sweet — it is nutritious and wholesome and you only need a tiny piece to give you a boost.
You can also be quite flexible with your choice of nuts, spices and dried fruit. Just use any combination you fancy, or whatever you have in the store cupboard. The only stressful part is that you have to work very quickly once the sugar syrup is ready or the mixture stiffens and it is difficult to spread into your cake tin.
1. Heat the oven to 160°C. Grease the cake tin and line it with the rice paper.
2. Put the dried fruit, nuts, cherries, ginger, candied peel, lemon zest, flour, cocoa powder and spices into a large bowl and mix together.
3. Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave.
4. Put the sugar and honey and orange flower water into a saucepan and on a very gentle heat dissolve the sugar. When the sugar has completely dissolved, bring the mixture to the boil and boil steadily for 2 minutes.
5. Take the syrup off the heat. Combine the syrup immediately with the chocolate and then with the fruit and nut mixture. It will go all stiff but don't worry.
6. Spread it evenly into the tin, push it down with your fingers and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
7. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar when it is cool. Cut with a very sharp knife.
- 3 sheets edible rice paper
- 220g whole nuts — hazelnuts, brazil and/or blanched almonds, toasted lightly
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 75g glace cherries
- 50g crystallized ginger
- 75g good quality candied peel, chopped
- 80g dried fruit
- 70g plain flour
- 2 tbs cocoa powder
- 100g slab of 70% plain dark chocolate
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp each of ground nutmeg, ground coriander and/or ground cardamom
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 115g runny honey
- 100g sugar
- 1 tsp orange flower water
- Icing sugar to dust
Serves: Makes a 20cm diameter cake — use a loose bottomed or a spring form cake tin
Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Relatively easy, but you need to work quickly once you mix the syrup with the fruit and nuts
Good for: ENERGY! Nutritious; keeps for months; good to nibble on pre or post-exercise
Calories (kcal): 454.9
Protein (g): 7.1
Carbs (g): 56.6
Fat (g): 23.2
Fibre (g): 2.5