Torta di Farina Gialla

Yellow Cornmeal Butter Cake

Rate this recipe

Preparation info

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

An almond and cornmeal pound cake, this torta is made in one or another form throughout northern Italy. It has a pleasantly coarse texture, very different from the delicate Polenta Dolce, and is most often served as a tea or breakfast cake.

The finely ground corn flour needed for this cake is not readily available in the United States. Consult Sources of Equipment and Ingredients, or pulverize plain cornmeal in a blender or coffee grinder.


  • 12 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup blanched almonds, ground
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup corn flour, or cornmeal finely ground in a blender or coffee grinder


Butter a 9-inch round pan that is 2 inches deep and line the bottom with a disk of parchment or wax paper, cut to fit. Beat the butter with an electric mixer set at medium speed until soft and light. Beat in half the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until smooth between each addition. Stir in the lemon zest and ground almonds.

Whip the egg whites and salt in a clean, dry bowl until they hold a very soft peak. Whip in the remaining sugar gradually, continuing to whip the egg whites until they hold a soft, glossy peak. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the batter. Sift one-third of the corn flour or ground cornmeal over the batter and fold it in, then add another fourth of the egg whites, folding them in. Continue alternating the corn flour or cornmeal and the egg whites, ending with the egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry.

Cool the cake in the pan about 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack to complete cooling. Before serving, dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar. Store leftovers tightly covered at room temperature.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing