My series on Regional Italian food is back! Finally! Today’s recipe comes from the region I was born in: Lombardy and more precisely from the beautiful town of Mantova. This area is a culinary heaven… but then again, what part of Italy isn’t? I have already shared with you the recipes for Mostarda Mantovana and Tortelli di Zucca, both native of this town and today I am posting the recipe for a very famous cake: Sbrisolona. This cake is very simple and so good. Like the majority of traditional Italian food, it has its roots in the land where it was created and uses what were known as “poor” and “local” ingredients. In this case, cornmeal (the one used to make polenta) is added to the white flour as it was cheaper and more easily available. The name “Sbrisolona” comes from the local dialect and it means “crumbly”… as this cake is really crumbly. It is more like a huge almond cookie…. The cookie monster would love it and so do I! When I was a child in Milan, this cake would often be bought at the local bakeries to share with friends and family at any get together. It is so easy to make, that I now bake it myself and my girls like it so much that it never lasts too long! I hope you like it just as much!
Step-by-step instructions on how to make Sbrisolona, a crumbly cake from the Italian town of Mantua, made with polenta and almonds!
- 200 gms – 7 oz. all purpose flour
- 200 gms – 7 oz. cornmeal finely ground
- 150 gms – 5.5 oz. blanched almonds
- 200 gms – 7 oz. sugar
- 1 lemon zest grated
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 egg yolks
- 100 gms – 3.5 oz. lard or butter
- 100 gms – 3.5 oz. butter
- 50 gms – 3 tbsp almonds to garnish
- 2 tbsp sugar
Roughly chop the blanched almonds and mix them with the all purpose flour and cornmeal.
Add all the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands until roughly combined (it will be a crumbly mixture, so don’t panic!).
Transfer to a greased tart pan. Do not press the mixture down as you want it to be crumbly.
Garnish with the unblanched almonds.
When ready, let it cool down, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Break it with your hands to serve.
Paolo (@quatrofromaggio) says
Such a northern Italian classic! And I always find it fascinating how delicious things like this dish sometimes come out of necessity, like using corn flour because cheaper and more available. Fantastic pictures as always, even the colors in your ingredients shot are so balanced!
Manu, there is just nothing quite as delicious as Italian cakes. I didn’t know that you were born in Italy and lived in Milan…..how wonderful to know this; you are so blessed!
Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) says
I’ve never heard of sbrisolona. I’m so intrigued by the texture. A very charming and rustic cake!
I had no idea it was so easy to make! Have to start cooking!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.
It’s really delicious and is soooooo gooooood.
Have eaten the “original” about two weeks ago in a Pasticceria in Mantova and i think this tastes nearly the same 😉
Many Thanks Manu!
Judy McInerney says
My novels set in Mantua at the time of the Gonzagas is to be published soon. I would really like to use your recipe for this delicious Mantuan delicacy in a recipe book I am compiling to thank all those lovely folk who have helped me.
I have tried out many recipes for Sbrisolona but yours is definitely the best! It even tastes better than those I tested in the pastry shops in Mantua, and believe me I tried them all.
Please let me know if I have your permission.
How exciting! Sure, you can use my recipe for sbrisolona as long as you credit it to me.
I am very happy you liked it. It is one of my favourite cake that reminds me of home and of my childhood! 🙂