Panforte di Siena from The 44 Scotland Street Cookbook

  10 Dec '23   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Panforte di Siena is a delicious Italian dessert packed with spices, fruit and nuts. Perfect for the festive season!

Find the recipe for this and many more in The 44 Scotland Street Cookbook by Anna Marshall, which includes recipes inspired by Alexander McCall Smith’s bestselling 44 Scotland Street series.

Bertie’s Favourite Panforte di Siena

‘Bertie, with all his soul, loved Panforte di Siena.’ – The World According to Bertie

Panforte di Siena is a chewy, dense Italian fruit cake, a cross between a Florentine and nougat. It is sold in Bertie’s favourite delicatessen, Valvona & Crolla, but is equally delicious when made at home.

Serves: 1 small Scottish boy (12 slices)
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

200g (7oz) whole almonds
150g (5 ½ oz) whole hazelnuts
100g (3 ½ oz) dried figs
150g (5 ½ oz) candied fruit
150g (5 ½ oz) plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
½ tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp nutmeg
150g (5 ½ oz) honey
150g (5 ½ oz) granulated sugar
2–4 sheets edible wafer paper (or 2–3 tbsp icing sugar)


1. Pre-heat your oven to 180oC (350°F, gas mark 4).

2. Roast the nuts on a baking tray for 5–7 minutes. Leave to cool.

3. Reduce oven temperature to 160oC (320°F, gas mark 3).

4. Grease the sides of a 20cm cake pan and line the bottom with wafer paper, if using.

5. Roughly chop the figs and candied fruit.

6. In a large bowl, mix together the nuts, figs and candied fruit.

7. In another bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and spices.

8. In a medium pan, over a medium heat, stir together the honey and sugar until the mixture starts to boil. Simmer for 2–3 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved.

9. Add the nut/fruit mixture and the flour mixture to the pan and stir to combine.

10. Scoop the mixture into your cake pan and press down with wet hands so that the batter is even.

11. Cover the top with more wafer paper, if using, and gently press down with damp fingers.

12. Bake for 30 minutes.

13. Once cool, run a wet knife around the outside of the cake to remove.

14. If not using wafer paper, dust the top and bottom of the cake liberally with icing sugar.

  • Share: