Panforte With Candied Quince (Italian Fruitcake With No Citron)

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Total Time
3hrs 15mins
Prep
30 mins
Cook
2 hrs 45 mins

Knew this was a keeper as soon as I saw it - a perfect fiddly recipe full of wonderful scents to putter a cold & dreary Saturday afternoon on. This one has been vetted by the editors of the Food & Drink Weekly as one of their Top Picks for 2008. Works for me as I adore quince - reminds me of granny canning her quince & figs... & of flaky delicious Austrian pastry with perfect center os quince preserves... "Panforte is kind of like the Italian version of fruitcake -- a dense, chewy fruitcake at that. But if all of your memories are bad ones, you have to try you this version, from Elisabeth M. Prueitt and her husband, Chad Robertson, owners of San Francisco's acclaimed Tartine Bakery. This recipe version, from their book "Tartine," is a bit complicated, but it makes one of the best panforte we've tasted -- here or in Italy. You can use any type of chopped, dried or candied fruit, in any combination, as a substitute for the fruits in the recipe as long as the total amount is about 4 1/2 cups (25 ounces)."

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Ingredients

Nutrition

Directions

  1. Candied orange zest:.
  2. Remove the zest from the oranges: Run a zester from the top to bottom of the orange, cutting the zest into thin strips (avoid the pith). Repeat with the remaining fruit. Reserve fruit for another use.
  3. In a medium, heavy saucepan, cook the water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the zest, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook at a gentle simmer until the zest strips become tender and semi-translucent, about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour into a heat-proof container. Cool completely, then store the zest in the cooking syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. You should have about one-half cup (3 ounces) of candied zest.
  5. Candied quince:.
  6. Peel the quince, slice it in half, remove the core and cut the fruit crosswise into one-fourth-inch slices.
  7. In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the water and sugar over medium heat, stirring with a spoon, until the sugar dissolves. Add the fruit, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook at a gentle simmer until the fruit is semi-translucent, about 45 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and pour into a heat-proof container. Cool, then store the fruit in the cooking syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You'll have about 1 cup (8 ounces) of fruit.
  9. Assembly:.
  10. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan with 2- or 3-inch sides, line with parchment paper, and butter the parchment, making sure to butter the sides of the pan well.
  11. In a large mixing bowl, combine the candied quince and orange zest, dates, currants, orange and lemon zest, and all of the nuts. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, pepper and cloves over the fruits and nuts. Mix well. Set aside.
  12. In a deep, heavy saucepan, combine the honey and granulated sugar over medium-high heat. Stir gently with a wooden spoon from time to time to make sure that no sugar is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture registers 250 degrees on a thermometer, about 3 minutes. The mixture will be frothy and boiling rapidly.
  13. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over the fruit-and-flour mixture in the bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate the syrup thoroughly with the other ingredients. The mixture may seem dry at first, but it will come together once it is well mixed. (If you have rubber gloves, it is easier to mix with your hands than with a spoon.) Work quickly at this point; the longer the mixture sits, the firmer it becomes.
  14. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula dipped in water. Bake until the top is slightly puffed and looks like a brownie, about 1 hour. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and turn out of the pan and cool completely.
  15. With a fine-mesh sieve, sift the powdered sugar over the top, bottom and sides of the panforte. Lightly tap it over the counter to shake off excess sugar. It will keep, well wrapped, in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks, or indefinitely in the refrigerator. To serve, slice into quarter- to half-inch slices.