Calabrian Walnut Cake, Torta di Noci

Browsing Twitter recently, this recipe caught my eye. It didn’t have a pretty picture. It seemed like a real peasant dish of a dessert to be honest. But it sounded like something my dad’s family would make in his hometown in Calabria, Italy, and I was certain I’d never had this exact cake. The best part? It was ridiculously simple. I looked at the ingredient list and read the steps and sat in awe for a minute. I knew I had to make it for Sunday family dinner last weekend because of my not-so-secret fascination with Italian recipes with short ingredient lists. Here’s the recipe as I made it:

Calabrian Walnut Cake, Torta di Noci

  • 3 cups (340 grams or 3/4 pound) shelled walnuts
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (225 grams) superfine sugar (I like Wholesome Sweeteners brand for baking)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  1. Pulverize the walnuts in a food processor until you have a coarse meal, the texture of sand.
  2. Prepare a round 9-inch cake pan by greasing it with butter. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper if you’d like.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest and walnut meal and stir to combine. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form stiff peaks. Fold the whites bit by bit into the walnut mixture until well combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake at 375ºF (190ºC) for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is firm and browned nicely. Let cool completely in the pan before removing. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap and let chill in refrigerator until 1 hour before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Because the recipe noted that this cake is even better the day after it is made, I made it early enough to ensure I had time to leave it in the refrigerator for a bit. Remember to take it out for at least 30 minutes to bring it back up to room temperature before serving though.

The richness of the nuts combined with the bright lemon zest creates a memorable flavor that my family really enjoyed. This would make a wonderful dessert for a holiday meal or dinner party in your future. If you want something different (but not over the top), this is a recipe worth trying. It’s straightforward and takes about one hour from start to finish. Who can argue with that during the holiday season?

I pulled a book of Calabrian Cooking from my parents’ bookshelf last weekend and there it was. This recipe, almost identically, is included in that book with a little story about its modest start. Let me know if you’ve ever had another cake like this–I’m curious to find out its exact origins.

About Nina

Nina lives in Buffalo, NY. An adventurous home cook, she loves to eat, cook, bake & enjoy life. She writes/blogs about food, tweets adventures & other passions.

18. November 2014 by Nina
Categories: Desserts, Holiday Dishes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 1 comment

One Response

  1. Deborahann Cimino says:

    This recipe was delectable ! Reminds me of clementine cake with walnuts vs almonds. Hope to here more comments on this recipe!