Posted by: kaegw | February 19, 2009

Why I Love Panforte

Traditional food is very popular these days. From Stollen to polenta there is an innate draw to our heritage. I have the bug too. I love to perfect a traditional sweet dish. I am drawn to the tradition and the history of foods.

Take Panforte di Siena for instance. Panforte is an Italian confection made with almonds, spices, and candied citrus. The name literally means strong bread, but the translation reflects the strong flavors and spices that it is made with.

Here is a confection that dates back to the 1200’s in Italy. First recorded as being used to pay a tithe to a monastery. Then the crusaders wrote in their journals about panforte. Next the recipe was reformulated to appease Queen Margherita as she didn’t appreciate the spiciness. It is now sold throughout the world with each pasticceria in Siena with their own recipe, which of course is the original and the best!

I was inspired with this delicacy by the panforte that my sister brought me from England. It was incredible. Wrapped in a rustic paper with no pretence. The flavor was incredible: complex and enveloping. Just a sliver of the panforte would draw me into a myriad of different flavors and textures.

Of course I had to make this confection. But where was I to get a recipe? I researched and tried many, many recipes. I finally found a method and a basis for a recipe. But I had to come up with the final set of ingredients and their relationship to each other. But what satisfaction when I got there.

I can say I am proud of each of my panforte. I love that some of us hunt for something representative of our history. Thank goodness we do find and preserve these things, I sure enjoy them.

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Responses

  1. This sounds like a really fun way to tap into tradition. I wonder how much the definition of panforte has changed over time, aside from a reduction in “spiciness” for a Queen. Would the tithers of the 1200s recognize present day panforte as the same food?

  2. i am an addict of the crazy’s panforte.

    i am having them shipped to puerto rico
    because i am now the delaer of thid islands drug of choice.

    actually i give them away; i believe they are the perfect gift, especially for christmas; pre-wrapped, colorful, easy to ship, very impressive and besides, if i don’t send them out i hear about it!


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