Saturday, December 19, 2009

Siena cake

This is an extraordinary recipe, (also called Panforte - or "strong bread") which started out by not turning out as I expected it to - and then DID turn out as I had expected after waiting a while - you have to trust the process! Don't be disheartened when what comes out of the oven resembles a piece of chip-board. It does somehow change after a while. The end result is very Christmas-sy, very chewy and very showy. Not to mention quite exciting to make!

Apparently it is originally a medieval recipe,from Tuscany. It keeps for anything up to three weeks. This version comes from Great Italian food and was published by the Australian Women's Weekly.

I would imagine it would be great with strong coffee - which I don't drink. But if you do...

Siena Cake
120g (3/4 cup) blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup hazelnuts coarsely chopped and roasted
¼ cup glacĂ© apricots finely chopped
¼ cup glacĂ© pineapple finely chopped
1/3 cup mixed peel
100g (2/3 cup) cake flour
2T cocoa powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1/3 cup (75g) Castor sugar
½ cup (175g) honey
60g dark chocolate – melted

Mix the nuts, fruit, peel, flour, cocoa and cinnamon together well.
Line the base and sides of a 20 cm diameter sandwich cake tin with baking paper.

Mix the Castor sugar and honey in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and boiling point is reached. When the mixture boils, leave it to simmer for about 5 minutes on a reduced heat.

Add the syrup and melted chocolate to the fruit and nut mixture and mix well. (Work quickly, because this starts to set fast, so expect it and don't be alarmed as the thing starts to take on the consistence of setting concrete!). Spread the mixture quickly and evenly into the prepared pan. (Use your hands. It should be cool enough at this point.)

Bake uncovered in a preheated over at 150°C for about 35 minutes. Leave it to cool in the pan. Turn it out, remove the baking paper and wrap it in tin foil. Leave it in the foil for a least a day before cutting it into squares.

Dust with icing snow (or not...)

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