History and territory
Symbol of Sienese gastronomic confectionery, the origins of Panforte lead us directly into the Middle Ages. The first traces of this product date back to 1205, when the dessert is mentioned by the name of panpepato (spice cake), because its dough was characterized by a high presence of pepper. The panpepato was given as a gift to the nuns of the Abbey of Montecelso, in the province of Siena, by servants and settlers. Over the centuries, Panforte established itself as a refined product, served on the tables of the nobles and the rich during the most important occasions, such as Christmas. As for ricciarelli, panforte was also produced in the spice merchants shops, who were the only people in possession of the essential spices to aromatize these recipes, favoured in this by an ordinance which prohibited the production of the cakes outside the walls of Siena (1772).
The great success of Panforte was also due to its precious healing qualities, by virtue of the spices present in its dough. Even today, you can still admire precious frescoes and gilded writings featuring Panforte, Ricciarelli and other characteristic Sienese products in the old apothecaries in Piazza del Campo in Siena, .
Later, Panforte also spread outside the Sienese territory, helped in this by the fact the Via Francigena passed through Siena. Passed through by pilgrims and worshippers, the ancient Via Francigena was above all an instrument of exchange between cultures thanks to which the traditional products of Sienese gastronomy developed, including, in fact, the Panforte.
The current recipe for Panforte dates back to 1879, in honour of Queen Margherita, who visited Siena on the occasion of the August Palio. The cake was renamed Panforte Margherita, different from the previous version in that less spice was used and there was a powdered sugar coating.
A cake obtained from working and subsequently baking a dough in the oven, based on dried fruits, candied fruits, honey and spices. There are two versions: a white one with the cover based on powdered sugar; and a black one, whose cover is composed of spices. Panforte is cooked at a temperature of 200-230°C for a duration varying from 13 to 45 minutes depending on the size. The texture is mushy while the taste is sweet with an after taste of candied fruit almonds and spices.