Panforte (strong bread) is a dense fruit cake made with candied lemon, nuts, spices, and honey… the inspiration for all energy bars. My sister Linda introduced me to this delicious recipe.

Prepare the pan

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flour

1 round sheet of rice or parchment paper

Brush an 8-inch cake pan or an 8-inch round Quiche pan with a removable bottom with olive oil. Place an 8-inch sheet of rice or parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. Brush the paper with olive oil and sprinkle flour evenly over the sides and bottom of the pan. Shake the flour around the sides and bottom of the pan then remove any excess flour.

For the cake

1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup candied lemon peel, cut into small pieces
1 cup nuts, roughly chopped (almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts)

To prepare

Combine the honey and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook on medium heat stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil. Incorporate the dates, candied lemon rind, and nuts. Add the flour mixture and stir until well blended.

Spoon the firm batter into the prepared pan smoothing the top and edges. Set the cake on a rack placed in the middle of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Loosen from the pan by running a small knife around the perimeter. Invert on a wire rack. Use a knife to peel away the rice paper or parchment paper. 

To serve

When cool, sift powdered confectioner’s sugar over the top and cut into small wedges. Wrap the panforte in an airtight container and store for up to one month.


For chocolate panforte, add 4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate bits to the honey and sugar mixture. Dried fruit options: apricots, figs or raisins. Any candied citrus peel will work.