Italian Pine Nut Cake is a bit tricky, it’s called a cake, but the texture is actually more ‘biscuity’. If I were to describe it in more detail, I’d say it’s a softer sweet pie crust, with a hint of lemon and herbs – and the crunch of the pine nuts, of course!
The dough per se is very easy to make. However, you have to put it back in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill – exactly like how we do it with pie crusts (well, I actually prefer to put my pie crust in the freezer before baking them 🙂 ). This process of chilling the dough gives you a ‘crumbier’ result.
For this recipe, I use a 7-inch pan because I prefer my cake to be thicker. When I first had a slice of this in Milan, it was noticeably thinner – I reckon they used a 9-inch pan then. It’s up to you on what size of pan to use, but be mindful of the time when you do this. You have to adjust the cooking time slightly than what I have in this recipe.
My husband prefers to eat it just as it is, no sauce or syrup. I prefer to have it with some sauce of whatever fruit is in season (in this case, blueberries). We both agree on what drink to pair it with though – ‘Vin Santo’. You can use any kind of sweet wine, no biggie. It’s just that I always have ‘Vin Santo’ on hand because I like to use them for macerating fruits or sometimes soaking raisins or sultanas for other dessert.
Give this one a try! 🙂
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely
- 2 eggs, separated
- pinch of salt
- 1 & 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (divided into 1/2 & 1/4 cups)
- butter, for greasing the pan
- icing sugar (optional)
Grease a 7-inch pan. You can use 8-inch or 9-inch, but be mindful of the cooking time when you do.
Combine sugar and butter until creamed.
Add lemon zest, rosemary, thyme, egg yolks and pinch of salt. Combine thoroughly.
Add flour and ½ cup pine nuts. Mix thoroughly. At this point, it’s better to use your hands for mixing, the dough is quite hard.
Transfer dough to the greased pan and make sure it’s even on top. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (375 degrees F).
Take baking pan out of the fridge and add the remaining pine nuts on top. Brush top with egg white.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until you see the sides pulling away from the pan.
Sprinkle some icing sugar or spoon some of your favorite syrup on top (if desired). Serve.