This is one of those desserts you can eat almost any time of day: along with your morning coffee, in between meals as a little treat, or right before bed, just to get in that one beautiful last bite of the day. This classic Italian cake is from the region of Ferrara, though it is also present in many other parts of northern Italy. It is akin to a shortbread, and it really does crumble! You can keep it for many days wrapped in foil on your counter top (though we never make it that long!).
The original recipe calls for the blanching, skinning, and grinding of your own almonds, but with the prevalence of alternative baking flours out there these days, almond flour saves you the trouble.
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons almond flour
1½ cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
The peel of 1 lemon, grated without digging into the pith
2 egg yolks
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (or 350°F in a convection over) and butter the bottom of a 12-inch round cake pan.
- Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, grated lemon peel, and almond flour in a bowl.
- Add the 2 egg yolks and the softened butter and knead the mixture with your fingers until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. You will end up with a very dry, crumbly dough, but the ingredients will hang together after a few minutes of kneading.
- Crumble the dough through your fingers into the cake pan until it is evenly distributed. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- Once the cake comes out of the oven, let it rest for a few minutes and then cut it into wedges. Then let it cool completely. Alternatively, let the cake cool completely before breaking into crumbly pieces to enjoy.
Pair it with: