Its spicy flavor is one of the few remnants of medieval and Renaissance court cuisine left on our tables: history and recipe
Either you love it, or you hate it. There is no middle ground for the most discussed of Christmas sweets: the panforte. The abundance of dried fruit And strong flavors its main feature of this spiced bread is: and it is precisely this "personality", this taste of the past that makes panforte a sweet so loved and yet so discussed. But what is the original recipe of the panforte?
A question of percentages
Disciplinary IGP in hand, there are two versions of the panforte: that White is that Black. The white panforte is prepared with wheat flour type 0, "In a quantity between 14 and 18% of the dough". As for dried fruit, they are used sweet almonds "Whole and unpeeled in a quantity of not less than 18% of the dough. Abundant with candied fruit: cedar and orange peel they must be used for a quantity that, together, ranges "between 35 and 45% of the dough". Not only that: "The candied citron must make up at least 25% of the candied fruit used". I got it? As for the sugar, must cover between 18 and 23% of the dough; the wildflower honey, on the other hand, it must travel between 2 and 5%. Nutmeg and cinnamon? Between 0.3 and 1.5%. As a basis of the product are used hosts of starch, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar the final. All these ingredients are mixed and spread on the wafers, surrounding the dough with containment bands; after which it is flattened, sprinkled with flour and baked. Once cooked, remove the flour and then apply the layer of icing sugar. Hazelnuts and vanilla are optional ingredients.
For the black version, the recipe is very similar: among the ingredients appears the candied melon instead of cedar; and is richer in spices, with the contribution of pepper. The latter, together with cinnamon and nutmeg, must cover between 0.6 and 5% of the dough; and honey, finally, does not appear, even if admitted as an "optional ingredient". For sprinkling, instead of real sugar, a spice mix and – as an optional ingredient – del cocoa powder. Here, among the optional ingredients, in addition to vanilla, also the nuts.
The gingerbread of monks and apothecaries
The ingredients of the current panforte, in themselves, say a lot about the ancient history of this Sienese Christmas cake. The wealth of spices – very expensive at the time – indicate a very specific genesis: the tables of the nobles and wealthy merchants who ruled the fate of Siena in the late Middle Ages and the beginning of Renaissance. The first documents that speak of breads rich in pepper and honey date back to 1205 and were found in theMontecelllesi Abbey. They were "honeyed panes”, Focaccia made of flour, water, figs, grapes and honey which, over time, tended to turn sour and, due to their strong taste, took the name of“ panis fortis ”. THE Sienese merchants, at the time, they were among the most formidable spice traders in Europe, and the dessert then began to enrich itself. The "panes melati" then became "honeyed and peppered panes"And therefore"gingerbreads", With the addition of cinnamon, pepper and cloves that came from the East, in the typical style of Renaissance cuisine. According to tradition, the panforte was born right in the monastery of Montecellesi, where Sister Leta, in charge of the kitchen, finding all the spices mixed in bulk in the pantry, instead of dividing them, mixed them with a little honey and put them on the fire. And so the panforte, or rather the "panpepato" was born. Which, in a short time, became one of the most popular desserts in Italy: it can be found as a course for sumptuous banquets in Genoa, Venice, Rome, even in Innsbruck. To prepare it, then, were the monks and the apothecaries, ancestors of our pharmacists. In 1555, during the'siege placed in Siena from Florentines which put an end to the independence of the city, the authorities fed the population with small doses of gingerbread.
Ugo Foscolo and the noblewoman
The ingrediants of the "panepato" were better delineated in XVIII century. They were – according to a document of the time – 17, like the districts of Siena: in addition to water and fire, honey, wheat flour, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, melon, cedar, orange and candied lemon peel, cinnamon, coriander, aromatic pepper, cloves, nutmeg and sugar appeared. The name "panforte" it will appear later: it was none other than the first to utter it Ugo Foscolo, who in 1813 reports that he received as a gift, from Siena, the "panforti" by the noblewoman Quirina Magiotti Mocenni. The first factory of Christmas Pepi however, it was already born in 1810, following the Napoleonic suppression of the pharmacy of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. While the first panforte with the cocoa will appear in 1820. Until then, however, it was still the black panforte. There white version it will only be born in 1879, on the occasion of the visit of the Queen Margaret – beloved sovereign for which the cooks evidently gave their best, just think of the Pizza margherita – during the August Palio. And for this reason renamed "panforte Margherita". The preparation of the panforte began in September, when it was easier to find dried fruit, and then consumed at Christmas. This is because, according to a popular legend, during one Christmas night a loaf miraculously turned into a panforte, symbolizing the birth of the Savior.
The recipe for the panforte of Siena
Time 50 minutes
INGREDIENTS FOR 2 PIECES
150 g almonds with the skin
150 g flour
150 g granulated sugar
100 g candied citron
70 g candied orange
20 g acacia honey
15 g mixed spices in powder
host – powdered sugar
Prepare 2 rings of about 12 cm in diameter and 6 cm in height with cardboard (alternatively, a wider ring, about 20 cm, h 3 cm) and line them with baking paper.
Dice the candied citron and orange.
Toast the almonds in a pan or in the oven.
Melt the granulated sugar and honey with 40 g of water in a copper saucepan or in a non-stick pan.
When it starts to boil, add the candied fruit and mix.
Turn off the heat and add the flour, mixed with the spices.
Finally, add the almonds and mix the mixture.
Place the rings on a baking tray, on a host base; divide the mixture into two parts and press it well into the molds.
Squeeze it to prevent air bubbles from forming.
Cover the surface with flour, to prevent it from burning, and bake at 180 ° C for 15-20 '.
Take the panfortini out of the oven and let them cool; remove the cards and trim the host.
Remove the flour and sprinkle with plenty of icing sugar.