Caspar Panforte

about 10 pounds - four 9" rounds, five 8" rounds, or seven 6" rounds

batter
1 pounds 6 ounces (4 cups) ground Candied Orange Peel
1 pounds 6 ounces (4 cups) ground Candied Lemon Peel
3 pounds Nuts (3 Cups = 1 pound)
2 cups White Flour (variation: add up to 2 cups of Cocoa to flour)
2-1/2 Tablespoons fresh grated Lemon Peel
3-1/2 Tablespoons Spice Mix

spice mix
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Coriander
1/2 Tablespoon Cloves
1/2 Tablespoon Nutmeg

syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter
2-1/4 pounds (3 cups) Honey oil the cup first!
3 cups Sugar

batter
     Put candied orange and lemon peels in large mixer, with bowl and blade already in place. Mix until combined. Add flour and mix until flour coats the peels and appears granular. Add spice mix and fresh lemon peel, mix in well. Add nuts and blend, being careful not to over-mix and smash the nuts. Leave in the bowl.

syrup
     Put butter in a tall pot first, then honey and sugar. Heat and stir, avoiding lumps. Raise flame and heat to 265 degrees, remove from heat and add to batter immediately. Mix together well, being careful not to overmix.

     While the syrup is cooking, prepare the pans by oiling them thoroughly, then fitting them with parchment, then buttering the parchment generously. Taking pains to oil the pans and fit the parchment will be rewarded, as the finished batter is extremely tenacious. Don't even consider baking without parchment. Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees.
     When the batter and syrup are combined, pour it into the pans. Since it doesn't rise, you can fill the pans fairly full. Remember that the finished product should be about an inch thick. Take care to distribute the batter evenly.
     Place the filled pans in the oven, close the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. This is a drying process as much as it is a baking process, and so you may wish to check from time to time to make sure that heat in the oven is even, none of the tops are scorching, etc. If the panfortes appear to be getting too dark, reduce the heat to 300 degrees or even less. The panforte is not in the least bit fragile, and so it can be moved about in the oven with impunity. It is, however, very much alive during the baking/drying process, and will spill, so use care. It may take two hours to bake.
     The only part of this process that requires experience is knowing when the panforte is done. The panfortes will be very soft and flexible when they're done, because they'll be hot. The syrup which binds the panforte is more fluid at oven temperatures and becomes firmer as the cakes cool if the panforte is done. When the panforte is done, typically, you will be able to touch the top center and have your finger come away clean. If you overcook, your panforte will be brittle, quite hard, and practically inedible. If undercooked, it will be sticky and very difficult to handle. It is better to undercook than to overcook, as you can always put the panfortes back in the oven if they are found to be too soft.
     When you are sure the panfortes are cooked enough, remove them from the oven and let them cool until you can handle them. As they approach handling temperature, about 115 degree, the should still be somewhat limp. You can powder them thoroughly with confectioner's sugar and then wrap them in plastic wrap. Once cool, a second wrapping will prepare them so that they will keep at room temperature indefinitely. Never stack them more than four panfortes high, as they are still flexible at room temperature and will flatten.

recipe derived from several sources,
developed over a number of years,
and contributed by Michael Potts and Cheryle Evans

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