Cake from the mountains

Cake from the mountains

Torta delle montagne

The Italian Baker

I have a kind of obsession for recipes from the Alps, and mountains in general. My father comes from the Friuli region in the north of Italy, so I guess a part of me belongs there, and my childhood fairytales were full of such recipes. For years I believed in gnomes who lived inside trees. My father would tell me stories of far-away lands in central Europe, of the Black Forest, and he gave me a book with illustrations showing mother-gnome baking for her children and family. She would go out riding a hare in search for the juiciest berries for her cakes, and would then bake the prettiest cake I had ever seen. I dreamed of doing the same one day.... Oh well, I guess in part I do, minus the hare ride!

This simple cake is so yummy, and will make you feel as though you were in a fairytale. The recipe comes from Trentino Alto Adige, a luscious region in the north of Italy. Use only the best ingredients, to capture the scent of the mountains, and top with fresh berries if you like.


Quantity Ingredient
250g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
plain flour, for dusting
250g buckwheat flour
100g ground hazelnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
50g breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
250g brown sugar
100ml organic apple juice
250g organic raspberry, blueberry or redcurrant jam
icing, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Butter a 23 cm springform cake tin and dust with a little flour.
  2. Put the flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, breadcrumbs and cinnamon in a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a mixing bowl and using electric hand-held beaters, beat the butter, egg yolks, vanilla and sugar together for about 20 minutes or until very creamy and increased in volume.
  4. Beat the flour mixture and apple juice alternately into the egg yolk mixture in three additions, starting and ending with flour. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and gently fold them into the mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the edge of the cake is starting to come away from the side of the tin.
  5. Leave to cool before removing the cake from the tin and cutting it in half horizontally. Spread the jam over one half and top with the other, then dust with icing sugar.
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