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Sbrisolona!

What a cool word, eh? Sbrisolona. It means crumbly. Cake. It is delicious. You have the Italians to thank for this one. A dense thin cake from Mantua made with a surprising number of egg yolks, almond flour and a touch of cinnamon. This cake is totally my speed. It is a really impressive dessert that actually tastes better the next day, making it perfect for the holidays and parties.

We ended up eating this for breakfast the past couple of days and it is really great with a cup of coffee or tea. I really enjoyed the making of this cake. The process was not typical and so I got to think about ingredients in new ways. The order is all mixed up. It is easy to get used to a certain process (cream the sugar and butter until fluffy) and when it is changed you end up having to pay close attention. The butter goes in last?!! I was really fascinated by this recipe and you can imagine how happy I was when it was also really delicious. The recipe is from Dolce Italiano [1] by Gina DePalma, which I have been using a lot lately. It is a really well written book and everything I have tried from it has turned out well.

Sbrisolona (Italian Crumbly Cake)

Some of you are going to be immediately turned off by things like the Italian “00” flour and almond flour. Both can be ordered online or if you live in Chicago you can get “00” flour at Fox and Obel and maybe even Treasure Island (or an Italian market).  Or, if all else fails, try substituting all-purpose flour — “00” flour is very finely ground, so the texture may be different but I am guessing it will still be lovely.

Cake:

Topping:

Preheat the oven to 325° F and position a rack in the center. Lightly butter a 10-inch springform pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon and set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg, egg yolks, and sugar on medium speed until thick and pale yellow, about 2-3 minutes. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla extract and the melted butter. Switch machine to medium speed and beat for 30 seconds.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top.

To make the topping, put the sliced almonds in a medium bowl. Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl until it is foamy and light, then pour half of it over the almonds, stirring to coat them evenly. [You can discard the rest of the egg white or make an omelette with all of the leftover egg whites from this recipe.] Sprinkle the almonds with the sugar and toss to coat them. Spread the almond topping evenly over the surface of the batter.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is springy to the touch and golden brown on top and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. (It took my cake about 38 minutes to get to this point) Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing the sides and letting it cool completely.

The cake can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for a few days.