Share recipe

hide story show story

Panpepato (or pampapato) is a dense, dark, spiced, dried-fruit-and-nut-spiked cake typical of the city of Ferrara (though similar yet different versions exist under the same name in Tuscany and Campania, too). The name panpepato (literally 'peppered bread') refers to the liberal dose of spices included in the recipe – not unlike most Italian traditional sweets from the Renaissance. Pampapato (Pope’s bread), on the other hand, refers to the alleged history of this cake, which originates in a convent in Ferrara during the 1600s. Using the most precious ingredients available at the time (nuts, citrus, spices and, most especially, the newly landed and luxurious cacao), the nuns created a dome-shaped cake topped with melted chocolate and named their creation after the Pope. To this day, it remains a special cake for special occasions – such as Christmas and New Year – and a symbol of the fine culinary tradition of Ferrara and Emilia Romagna.

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
In a large bowl, combine the flour with the cocoa powder, spices, almonds and candied peel. Add the honey and stir until combined, then add the milk and work it in using your hands until you have an even ball of dough
Shape the dough into a slightly flattened dome and ease it onto the lined baking sheet
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a rack set over the same baking sheet you baked it on and leave to cool gently
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until completely melted. Drizzle over the top of the cake, then leave to set and cool before slicing
Share recipe