Sbrisolona is a typical torta from Mantova, in Lombardia. It literally means crumbly cake. If the streusel part on some cakes is what you prefer, you’ll love sbrisolona!
There is a very similar cake to sbrisolona in the Veneto, calledfregolotta, “fregola” also meaning crumb.
160 g sifted all purpose flour 80 g granulated sugar 80 g unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt 1 medium large egg (you'll need about 15 to 17 g of yolk and 15 g of egg white: separate the yolk from the white. Use all the yolk and only half of the egg white) 80 g of lightly toasted almonds, slivered
1 optional tablespoon of liquor (maraschino, amaretto di Saronno, grappa are all nice here)
10 whole almonds with skin for decoration
Butter for the mold
- Preheat your oven to 325℉.
- Add all the ingredients at once, with the exception of the whole almonds, in a bowl in the stand mixer and using the paddle attachment work the ingredients at low speed until everything gets to the consistency of large crumbs.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray and lightly butter an 11 inch tart ring. Distribute the crumbs evenly in the ring without pressing them. Add the whole almonds on top as decoration.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until the cake has a golden color, rotating the tray if necessary.
- Let the cake cool on a rack before eating.
This cake is very rustic and it’s meant to be broken into irregular pieces by hand. It’s a nice dessert to enjoy at the end of a casual meal with friends. Serve it with a nice dessert wine, you’ll be surprised to be wanting to keep going back for more.
Very often this cake is also made using very finely milled cornmeal (in Italian fioretto flour). You can substitute up to 50% of the all purpose flour with cornmeal. It is also common to find the combination ofalmond flour, cornmeal and all purpose flour together (for the quantities called in this recipe you could try 47g almond flour, 22 g corn flour and 91 all purpose flour). The smaller your crumbs, the more crumbly your cake will be. So, if you feel it’s too dry, add a teaspoon of egg white left over at a time until you crumbs are homogeneous in size.
If you want your cake to look a little more refined, you can make the crumbs and refrigerate for a couple hours, then pass the crumbs through a large net sifter (if you think you slivered almonds are going to have a hard time passing through the sifter, combine them with the crumbs after sifting). Since it’s very hard to have a similar siftat home, I’ve used in the past a vegetable rotary grater on the coarse setting with success.
To make “sbrisoline”, small little cakes that look more like cookies, I often bake the crumbs in a mini whoopie pie pan. Irresistible!
It is also common in Italy to see nowadays savory versions of sbrisolona, with grated parmigiano, chopped herbs and nuts to serve for aperitivo.