panforte

fruit and nut Christmas cake

'Strong bread' is a rich, dense, long lasting fruit cake is said to have been used as currency on occasion in the Middle Ages, and added a note of cheer to the provisions of the Crusaders. Its 'strength' is derived from the black pepper (hence its alternative name in other parts of central Italy, panpepato).

Siena is the capital of panforte, and you'll see it year round in Sienese shops. Traditionally it has 17 ingredients, as many Siena has contrade, or neighbourhoods, who famously compete in the city's Palio:

walnuts

hazelnuts

almonds

pine nuts

raisins

chocolate

candied orange peel

brewed espresso coffee

honey

water

red currant jelly

nutmeg

orange zest

salt

black pepper

flour

powdered sugar

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