Panforte di Siena PGI is a traditional Sienese confection made with a base of dried and candied fruit, honey and spices, available in the white version covered with icing sugar, or the dark version covered with spices.
The mandatory ingredients for the preparation of Panforte di Siena PGI are wheat flour type 0, dried fruit (whole and unpeeled sweet almond), candied fruit (citron and orange peel for the White version; in the Dark version the citron is substituted with melon), sugar, honey and spices (nutmeg and cinnamon), and starch wafers for the base. Honey is optional in the dark type and sweet pepper is added to the spices, with the mixture also being used to cover the outer surfaces; White panforte is coated with icing sugar. The use of granulated hazelnut, melon, vanilla and a blend of spices such as mace, pepper, pimento, coriander and cloves are optional for the White version; for the Dark version, walnuts, citron, coriander, star anise, cloves, ginger, allspice and chilies can also be used in addition to the mandatory ingredients. The use of additives, colouring or preservatives is strictly prohibited. The ingredients are mixed together and the dough is portioned and weighed; each portion is laid on starch wafer paper and wrapped with a band. The panforte is cooked in the oven at 200-230°C for 13-45 minutes depending on the sizes of the pieces. Once cooled, the surface is coated with icing sugar (for the White version this operation can also be carried out just before eating).
Appearance and Flavour
Panforte di Siena PGI is round or rectangle, with a thickness of 14-45 mm and a variable weight of 33 g to 6 kg. It has a doughy consistency and there is moderate resistance on cutting. The White version is coated in a fairly thick layer of icing sugar, while the Dark version has a dark brown colour. The flavour is sweet, with an aftertaste of candied fruit and almond and hints of spice, the latter being delicate in the white version and extremely intense in the dark one.
The production area of Panforte di Siena PGI is within the entire territory of the Province of Siena, in the Tuscany region.
The history of Panforte di Siena PGI dates back to the Middle Ages. In the Sienese countryside breads that were rich in honey and spices were already being produced in 1200. However, the product only became well-known in 1400, mainly thanks to trading outside of the local territory: as well as in Rome, it was also appreciated as a prestigious product in the main European courts. The name was established in 1800 and it was during this period that production left the confines of the spiceries and moved onto a much larger scale. White panforte was born in 1879, in honour of Queen Margherita of Savoy who was visiting Siena for the Palio; for this reason, this version is also called “Panforte Margherita”.
Panforte di Siena PGI should be kept in a cool, dry place and if the packet is well closed after opening it will keep for long periods of time. In fact, the product has a good shelf life. Originally a typical Christmas delicacy, today it is consumed year-round. It can also be used as an ingredient in the preparation of original first and main course dishes.
The product is marketed as Panforte di Siena PGI, in the typologies White and Dark. It can be sold whole and in slices or segments (when the form is round), packaged in paper or thin cardboard and at times pre-wrapped with material suitable for food.
Panforte di Siena PGI is probably the delicacy which best represents the Sienese territory. It has been known and appreciated since the Middle Ages, when Siena held a strategic position for spice trading along the Via Francigena: this product is in fact the result of the abundant and skilful use of these spices, the flavour of which characterises Panforte di Siena PGI.