Torta di Grano Saraceno

Buckwheat and Almond Cake from Bolzano

This moist cake is a traditional dessert in the Alto Adige, or Sudtirol, Italy’s German-speaking region; the name in German is Buchweizentorte. Bolzano, the capital of the Alto Adige, is reminiscent of a medieval Austrian town, with a wonderful open-air fruit market near the center of the oldest part of the town.

Preiselbeeren, or mirtilli rossi (literally, red blueberries), which resemble Scandinavian lingonberries, are used to make the preserves that fill the cake. I have found that raspberry preserves, though lacking the slight bitterness of the traditional filling, make an acceptable substitute.

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • cups unblanched almonds, ground
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour (available in health food stores)
  • ½ cup raspberry preserves

Method

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 vanilla 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 buckwheat flour over the batter and fold it in, then add another fourth of the egg whites and fold in. Continue alternating the flour and 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. The torta may be prepared several days in advance up to this point. Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate.

To finish, trim the torta evenly with a sharp, serrated knife, if necessary. Invert the cake so that the top is underneath and slice the cake through the middle to make 2 layers. Place the bottom layer on a platter and spread with the raspberry preserves. Place the other layer on the preserves and press well to make the layers adhere. Before serving, dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar. Store leftovers tightly covered at room temperature.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

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