Torta Sbrisolona

Italian crumble cake

by rebecca deangelis

Sbrisolana was created around the 16th century in Northern Italy. To save money, poor families who couldn’t afford butter would prepare this dessert with cornmeal, sugar and lard.


This dish was once called “the tart of three cups” because it was made with a cup of cornmeal, a cup of wheat flour, and a cup of sugar. According to tradition, this hard, yet crumbly dessert should be broken into pieces and eaten like a cookie.


Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 6-inch round springform pan or tart pan with a removable base.


In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add egg yolk, whole egg and lemon zest then add cold cubed butter and combine by pinching with your fingertips until the flour is moist with pea-size crumbles, like streusel. Distribute the pastry in the prepared pan, but don’t press down.


For the topping, whisk the egg white and a pinch of salt until foamy. Add sliced almonds and mix to combine. Spread evenly on top of the sbrisolona. To finish, sprinkle the sugar on top of the almonds and serve.


Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden. Lower the oven temperature to 300F and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, until the cake is dry and golden brown. Place on a wire rack and cool.