from one generation to the next
It’s almost impossible to define Australian cuisine. The food we eat has origins in every corner of the world. What was a typical Aussie meal when I was a kid has been tempered by the food brought by successive waves of post war migrants.
Australians have embraced Italian food as if we were weaned on spaghetti, my family has even replaced traditional festive treats such as Christmas fruit cake and fruit mince pies with pannetone and panaforte. I confess to buying the family panettone from Brunetti, a Melbourne institution, but every year I make panaforte as no commercial product can measure up.
125 g raisins (muscatels)
sultanas (golden raisins)
90 g dried apricots
90 g pitted dates
90 g dried figs
60 g dried pineapple
60 g dried mango
250 g whole raw almonds
250 g whole raw hazelnuts
2 oranges, zest only
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
300 g honey
300 g white sugar
200 g plain flour
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Grease a 30cm X 30cm shallow cake tin.
Chop the apricots, figs, dates, pineapple and mango into small pieces about the size of the nuts. Sift the flour cocoa and spices into a large bowl, add the fruit and nuts and orange zest, stir to combine, separating any fruit that has stuck into clumps.
Heat the sugar and honey, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook the syrup until it has reached soft ball on a candy thermometer, 116C or 240F. If you don’t have a thermometer, remove the pan from the heat when you think it done, drop a small amount of the syrup into cold water and it will set immediately into a soft ball if done. If the syrup dissipates in the water, return the pan to the heat and cook a little longer.
Pour the honey sugar syrup over the fruit nut and flour mixture and stir thoroughly to combine. Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin, then with wet hands press it evenly and firmly into the tin, smoothing the top as you go.
Bake for 45 minutes at 160C. Cool on a wire rack.
Panaforte will keep for months (if you can resist) wrapped tightly in foil then in an airtight container.
Cut into 2cm squares to serve.