Every Christmas we spent in Ferrara, Italy, with my husband's family, we would have a slice of this rich spicy chocolate fruit cake at the end of the meal. It is very rich, so you only need a small piece. I love the local Christmas markets which sell Pampepato in different sizes, from big shiny domes to mini-cakes, that are like thick biscuits.
Pampepato di Ferrara (makes 1 big or 12-14 small cakes)
200g flour (preferably Italian 00 type)
100g caster sugar
3tbsp runny honey
100g whole almonds
100g chopped candied orange and lemon peel
100g cocoa (not the hot chocolate mix)
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground cloves
120ml milk, warmed
200-300g dark chocolate (depends on the quantity of cakes you make)
In a big mixing bowl mix together the flour, caster sugar, spices and candied fruit. Add the cocoa, almonds, honey and warm milk (a little at a time). Stir well together.
Using hands, work the cake dough to shape a big ball. Flatten the ball and shape it as a dome.
If you are making mini-cakes, roll the dough into small balls and also flatten them to resemble domes.
Place the cakes onto the tray, which has been covered with the slightly oiled foil.
Bake at 180C for 15-25 minutes (less time for mini-cakes, longer if you bake one cake).
Ideally the cake should rest in a cool place for 10 days before being covered with the chocolate icing.
For the icing, melt the chocolate over a boiling water and dip the mini-cakes in the melted chocolate or drizzle it over the big cake. The chocolate has to set before you can cut the cake.
Use the dark, bittersweet chocolate for the authentic flavour.
The cake will keep well for a couple of weeks.
Decorate with the writing icing (optional).
I had a bit of a disaster with this batch. I managed to burn the chocolate icing, as I answered the phone and forgot all about it, by the time I got to the kitchen, I had crispy coals in a pan. Had to buy more chocolate for the icing.