We The Italians | Italian cuisine: Seasonal Italian Fruit Torte

Italian cuisine: Seasonal Italian Fruit Torte

Italian cuisine: Seasonal Italian Fruit Torte

  • WTI Magazine #162 Apr 15, 2023
  • 1873

Springtime calls for lighter desserts that take advantage of seasonal bounty. This traditional Italian cake is a favorite of my family, and I love to make it with whatever fresh fruit I have on hand. Light and airy, it’s a great way to start the day sweetly as Italians do or to end a meal with authentic Italian flair. All across the northern Mediterranean region, there is a culture of combining sweets with fresh fruit. 

This cake is perfect to bring to a potluck or give as a hostess gift. Since it can be frozen for up to a month, I usually make two at a time, one for now, and one to give away whenever the occasion calls. If you’re not planning on finishing it the same day, make sure to refrigerate it so that it won’t spoil. This recipe is from my Quick and Easy Mediterranean Recipes cookbook. 

Ingredients: 

  • 7 tablespoons (98 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (125 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour or almond flour, plus extra for pan
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons anise or almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe plums, apricots, or nectarines, peeled, pitted, and sliced OR 1 cup (145 g) blueberries
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Add a round of parchment, butter the parchment, then flour it.

Place 6 tablespoons (84 g) of butter and 1/3 cup (67 g) sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together on low speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat well until combined.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour and the baking powder. In another small bowl, stir together the cream, ¼ cup (60 ml) water, anise or almond extract, and vanilla extract. Stir the mixtures into the butter mixture by alternating the flour mixture with the cream mixture—adding one third of each at a time until they are used up.

In a clean bowl fitted to an electric mixer using a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. If the eggs are not stiff enough, the cake will not rise properly.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter to eliminate all of the white and break up any lumps. Then stir once in the opposite direction to make sure that all white has been incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared tart pan and level the surface. Arrange the plums or other fruit in a circle pattern on top of the batter. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon (13 g) of sugar on top of the fruit.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 40 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack. Allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Invert onto a cooling rack and remove sides of pan, then bottom and parchment paper. Turn over to cool completely.

Invert the cake onto another plate and then back over onto a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve at room temperature.

Yield: 8 servings