Torta di Zucca

Soft Pumpkin Cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This rich, moist cake is excellent served warm with ice cream, mascarpone cheese or custard. Its texture will remain soft and squashy, making it more of a baked pudding than a cake. Traditionally, the knobbly, slightly blueish-skinned Barucca pumpkin from the Chioggia area is used to make this torta, but any kind of butternut squash or firm orange-fleshed winter squash will work, as long as it isn’t too fibrous and stringy. What is special about this cake, apart from the flavour, is its glorious, bright orange colour.


  • 50 g/2 oz/ cup sultanas/golden raisins
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp grappa
  • 600 g/1 lb 5 oz pumpkin (preferably Barucca) or butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 150 g/5 oz/10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 150 g/5 oz/¾ cup sugar
  • 50 g/2 oz/½ cup coarsely ground almonds
  • 50 g/2 oz/ cup candied citron peel, chopped
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 75 g/3 oz/ cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 10 ml/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • vegetable oil, for greasing
  • icing/confectionerssugar, for dusting
  • sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease a 20 cm/8 in fairly shallow cake tin or pan and line it with baking parchment. Soak the sultanas in the grappa until swollen.
  2. Put the pumpkin or butternut squash into a pan with the butter and cook over low heat until soft. Mash it thoroughly with a pinch of salt.

  3. Stir the sugar into the pumpkin with the almonds, candied citron peel, grated lemon rind and the sultanas with the grappa. Beat together until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder, and stir to mix. Beat the egg yolks until light and foamy, then fold in.
  5. In a grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold them lightly into the mixture.

  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.