Apricot, Fig, Orange and White Chocolate Pan Forte

Makes: 1 x 20cm or 2 x 10cm Ready in: 11/2 hours

Pan forte is the ideal cake to make as a Christmas gift as it gets better over a week or two, so its perfect for making ahead or taking away on holiday after Christmas. The name simply means "strong bread" but the reality is a decadent slice, great with coffee or a cuppa. This one uses white chocolate and is good for those who don’t like or can’t eat dark chocolate.


  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 70g pistachios
  • ¼ cup mixed peel
  • 1 cup dried figs coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dried apricots coarsely chopped
  • zest of an orange
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 100g white chocolate
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • ¼ cup runny honey


Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line one 20cm cake tin or two 10 cm tins (see tips).

In a mixing bowl combine the nuts, fruit, peel, zest, flour, cardamom and cinnamon.

In a small saucepan combine the butter, chocolate, sugar and honey and heat very gently until melted, mix to combine then pour into the bowl with the nuts and fruit.

Stir until thoroughly mixed and pour into the prepared pan. Smooth over the surface and bake for 1 hour or until firm and set when the centre is pressed. Cover the top with baking paper in the last ½ if needed to prevent over browning.

 Allow the cake to cool before turning out. When cool wrap the cake in foil and store in a cool place.

Pan forte can be eaten immediately but is at its best when about two weeks old. Dust with icing sugar and serve in thin slices with coffee or ice cream.


I make mine half sized as 10cm cakes in improvised cake tins made from catering sized cans are known as A10 s. These can be acquired from the recycle bins of cafes and anywhere cooking is done in bulk such as rest homes. I cut two A10 cans down with tin snips to 2/3 their original height and filed the rough edges. These tins have now been used for over a decade for smaller sized cakes. They are slightly thinner than a proper cake tin so always line them. The smaller size is perfect for gifting as you get two - one to keep and one to gift.

You can swap the almonds for ¾ cup mixed un roasted nuts if you prefer a chunkier blend.


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