Spiced Fruit and Nut Cake

A variation of Panforte and Siena Cake that is suitable for Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo and Vegan diets.

This is a family recipe that I think came from my aunt Ellen who was very fond of rich cakes and desserts. The inclusion of a little chocolate to the fruit, nut and spice mix provides great flavour despite the small quantity per portion. (You can make your ownchocolate.)

I made a few substitutions to the original recipe. By replacing the wheat flour, butter and honey it is now suitable for many diets.

The combination of fruit and nuts listed below is not prescriptive. Vary your selection depending on your what is in the cupboard and available. Particularly good are tropical fruits like dried pineapple and mango.

Diets for which Spiced Fruit and Nut Cake is suitable:

Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegetarian and Vegan.


Preparation: 20 mins | Cook: 25 mins | Serves: 12+ slices

100gm (2/3 cup) almonds, roasted*
100gm (2/3 cup) hazelnuts, roasted (rub the skins off)**
100gm (1/2 cup) chopped dried pears***
100gm (1/2 cup) chopped dried apricots
100gm (1/2 cup) chopped dried figs
50 gm (1/3 cup) coconut flour****
2 tbsp cocoa powder,
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup*****
100 gm (3 1/2 oz) chocolate (see notes for Dairy Free and Vegan diets)******


PREHEAT oven to 150°C.
GREASE a 20cm round cake tin.
CHOP the nuts.
MIX the nuts and dried fruits in a large bowl.
SIFT the flour, cocoa and spices.
COMBINE the fruit and nut mix with the flour mix. (The flour will separate the pieces of fruit so they do not clump.)
MELT the chocolate in a small bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
COMBINE the golden syrup and sugar in a small saucepan.
HEAT at a low temperature to melt the sugar.
INCREASE the heat and bring to the boil for 1 minute.
POUR the melted chocolate and syrup into the bowl of fruit and nuts and mix thoroughly.
SPOON into the cake tin, flattening with the base of a spoon.
BAKE for 25-30 minutes. (Do not overcook. It will be soft to the touch when hot.)
COOL slightly in the pan before running a knife around the edge, removing and cooling on a rack.


– Dust with cocoa powder and slice thinly to serve as a dessert.
– Pack as a sweet and healthy addition to your lunch.
– Good with coffee, port or a dessert wine.


* Select a variety of nuts.
** Roll the roasted hazelnuts in a tea towel to easily remove the skins.
*** Traditionally mixed peel (citron) is part of the fruit selection. Select sulphite free fruit if you have a sensitivity to sulphites.
**** Make coconut flour by grinding desiccated coconut to a powder using a food processor.
***** Substitute golden syrup with honey (not Vegan diet). If you select maple syrup, boil it for longer so it thickens to the consistency of golden syrup.
****** For Dairy Free and Vegan diets ensure Dairy Free chocolate.

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