Hazelnut Sbrisolona Cake with Chocolate Spread. ‘Sbrisolona‘ is a typical crumb cake from Mantua, in the North of Italy. A humble recipe that peasants used to make with common local ingredients like corn flour, coarsely chopped hazelnuts, and lard. Today, it is usually made with a mix of corn and white flour, almonds or hazelnuts, and enriched with butter, sugar, eggs, and lemon zest.
Song of the day: ‘Yummy’ by Justin Bieber.
Pure bliss, this Hazelnut Sbrisolona Cake combines the richness of a buttery, almost streusel-like dough, the nuttiness of hazelnuts, the luxuriousness of the dark chocolate spread. Serve it at the end of a meal with coffee, and you will have your family or guests ranting and raving about it…
The word” sbrisola“, in the dialect from the North, means “crumble” and “Torta Sbrisolona” can be translated with “Crumbly Cake “. In fact, it is pretty crunchy/crumbly and it’s meant to be broken into pieces and eaten with your hands.
Torta Sbrisolona is very popular in Lombardy where it originated but it is now widespread across Italy.
The inspiration to make a Sbrisolona cake came from the desire to use some fresh hazelnuts that we picked up last week in the countryside and that my dad laboriously cracked open for me.
Hazelnut Sbrisolona Cake with Chocolate Spread
Since I wanted to make more of a dessert cake that you can slice and enjoy on a plate with a fork, instead of making the traditional Sbrisolona, I added a luxurious layer of dark chocolate spread in between two layers of streusel dough. Such a fantastic decision!
It is a recipe from the “cucina povera” that peasants used to make with common local ingredients like corn flour, coarsely chopped hazelnuts, and lard. Today, it is usually made with a mix of corn and white flour, almonds or hazelnuts, and enriched with butter, sugar, eggs, and some flavoring (like lemon or orange zest, or vanilla).
Let’s have a look at the ingredients I used:
- flour type 0 (you can use all-purpose. In Italy, our flours have numbers from 00 to 2 according to their refinements. “00” type flour is the most refined and comes from the innermost part of the grain of wheat; type “2” is the closest to unrefined wholemeal flour that contains all the parts of the ground grain)
- cornmeal or corn flour (fine is better)
- cane sugar (or any sugar you like, remembering that the type of sugar will affect -a little- the color and texture of the dough)
- baking powder (just two teaspoons, to make the dough a little softer)
- salt (the usual pinch, it enhances the flavors)
- butter (at room temperature, I left it out of the fridge a couple of hours prior)
- eggs (large or medium. Organic free-range is our choice)
- lemon zest (always organic lemons when using the peel)
- dark chocolate spread for the filling (or any spread you like. I used Lindt)
How to make the dough – The Step by Step
You could make the dough in a bowl, using your hands, forks, and spoons, or with a food processor. I did a mix of the two.
- First, I roasted the hazelnuts in the oven on a baking tray for just 5 minutes. Then, I roughly chopped the hazelnuts in the food processor, leaving some bigger chunks for texture. I set them aside because I am going to use the same bowl.
- In another big bowl, I mixed the flours/salt/baking powder with the sugar, then poured it in the bowl of the food processor and added the cubed butter at room temperature, pulsing just until I got a bowl full of morsels.
- I poured the flour/butter mixture in the big bowl, added the lightly beaten eggs and lemon zest, and stirred with a spoon to combine.
- Then, with my hands, I pinched off nuggets of the dough, as if I was making a streusel.
- I covered the base of a 22 cm springform pan (a 24 cm is also good) with half of the dough, going a little up the edge, and pressed it gently. In a bain-marie (double boiler) I softened the dark chocolate spread.
- Afterward, using a spoon, I covered the base with the chocolate spread, leaving an empty border all around.
- Lastly, I crumbled the remaining streusel dough on top of the chocolate and finished by sealing the edges with a fork.
- In the meantime, the oven was preheating at 180° C (350° F). I put the Hazelnut Sbrisolona Cake in the oven and baked it for 35-45 minutes (every oven is different, so check it).
- When the Sbrisolona cake was golden brown, I took it out of the oven and let it cool on a rack before releasing it from the springform.
At this point, we had finished our Saturday lunch and were anxiously waiting for the cake to cool off just bit so we could finally taste it. Coffee was made and we had the first slice with the chocolate still warm, and the buttery streusel top light and fragrant. Our faces said it all, eyes closed, lips smacking, crumbs falling. A blissful moment.
The day after, it was still just as good, for our Sunday lunch. And on Monday, I brought some to work to share with my co-workers. Nothing but praises, satisfied smiles, and more crumbs happily falling down.
Hazelnut Sbrisolona Cake with Chocolate Spread: a crunchy, crumbly, nutty tart with a smooth dark chocolate filling between two layers of shortcrust crumbs. If you want to impress your family or guests with little effort and a whole lot of flavor, try this classic Italian dessert.
Song of the day: ‘Yummy’ by Justin Bieber.Print
‘Sbrisolona‘ is a typical crumble cake from Mantua, in the North of Italy. A humble recipe that peasants used to make with common local ingredients like corn flour, coarsely chopped hazelnuts, and lard. Today, it is usually made with a mix of corn and white flour, almonds or hazelnuts, and enriched with butter, sugar, eggs, and lemon zest.
- 100 g toasted, chopped hazelnuts
- 250 g 0 (or all-purpose) flour
- 50 g cornmeal or corn flour (fine)
- 130 g cane sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 150 g butter, at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- the zest of 1 organic lemon
- a pinch of salt
- about 200 g chocolate spread (dark chocolate, chocolate hazelnut)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Take a springform cake pan (22-24cm), butter and flour it, or cover it with parchment paper.
- Roast the hazelnuts on a baking tray for 5 minutes or till just starting to color. Let cool, then roughly chop with a knife or pulse them in a food processor. Set aside.
- Sift the dry ingredients and add them to the emptied food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Add the softened butter and pulse until you get a pebble-like consistency.
- In a small bowl, stir together the egg with the lemon zest.
- Pour the flour/butter mixture in the big bowl, add the lightly beaten eggs and lemon zest, and stir with a spoon to combine.
- Then, pinch off nuggets of the dough, as if making a streusel.
- Cover the base of a 22 cm springform pan (a 24 cm is also good) with half of the dough, going a little up the edge, and press it gently.
- Soften the chocolate spread in the microwave or on a bain-marie (double boiler) as I did. Let cool slightly.
- Using a spoon, cover the base with the chocolate spread, leaving an empty border all around.
- Then, cover with the remaining crumbs, pressing just a little.
- Finish by sealing edges with a fork.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. When the Sbrisolona cake is golden brown, take it out of the oven and let cool on a rack.
- Unmold, slice, and serve.