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 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.


  • 1 1/4 cups “00” flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 large egg yolks (one of the whites reserved for topping)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

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.

15 comments to “Sbrisolona!”

  1. That cake looks delicious – I think the name says it all!

  2. mmmm this looks delicious!! i would love to try out the recipe at home one day!

  3. This does sound fantastic! What is “00” flour equivalent to? I always forget. I’m guessing cake flour?

  4. I’ve loved your crumbly cake…

    I love this kind of cakes… Yours it’s absolutely divine!

  5. Hi Jesse! I have heard a couple of recommendations on the “00” flour, some say that it should be a mix of all-purpose and cake flour, but some say that you should just use all-purpose. 00 flour is usually higher in protein, which is why a complete substitution of cake flour (low protein) is not a good idea. I would try it with all-purpose and see what happens. Let me know!

  6. I’ve never seen a cake like this but it looks absolutely delicious! The almonds on top are calling my name!

  7. Looks delicious! Would be perfect with coffee!

  8. I’ve never heard of this cake, but I love the name, and it looks delicious! :)

  9. That looks wonderful. While I love frosting it’s refreshing to find a cake that is so tasty that you don’t need any. This looks to be that cake. Beautiful photos!
    Question: Do you think you can grind the flour a little more if you put in in the food processor? Or can I use cake flour?

  10. Hi Ingrid:
    Thanks! When I did a search for substitutes for 00 flour, most sources seem to recommend that you use all-purpose flour as a substitute rather than trying to grind or use cake flour. Check them out:

  11. Thanks!
    I really love the look of this cake and almonds are my fave nuts!

  12. paul wichert says:

    November 21st, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    we have been eating sbrisolona at academy barilla all week served at coffee break. I like the look of your cake, but prefer it if the cake breaks apart like a cookie! I will try it when I return to my home.

  13. this cake was delightful! I made it using all-purpose flour only and it came out beautifully. it looks super fancy but it’s surprisingly simple to make once you have all your ingredients laid out. I brought it to work and my coworkers enjoyed it with their morning coffee. it lasted less than an hour! will make again and again!!

  14. It does look lovely, but the original recipe does not have any baking powder – and it uses fine maize flour as well as plain wheat flour – apparently it was also called “three cups cake” as in 1 cup flour, 1 cup maize flour (better known in some countries (Uk?) as fine polenta) 1 cup almonds – far less eggs… basically a totally different texture – really it is a different cake altogether.
    A word about 00 flour: don’t wreck your head trying to replace it – when I learned to bake (that is nearly half a century ago) – the only flour available in the shops in Italy were 0 and 00. My mum had been given the Betty Crocker book – and it used all these different flour, impossible to find in Italy – still I baked without even looking for replacement to ‘all purpose’ and the cakes were just as good…

  15. Sorry about the links – they’re both in italian…

What do you think?