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Pinolata, Italian Pine Nut Cake

Pinolata, Italian Pine Nut Cake

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x


Pinolata, Italian Pine Nut Cake, a dense but soft, mildly sweet and nutty cake, it's the perfect dunk-in-your-coffee treat, ideal for breakfast/brunch, snack, or as a dessert. A classic cake, popular throughout Italy with variations according to the Region. A Pine Nut torta that seems to come straight out of grandma's oven.


  • 250 g granulated sugar
  • 160 g butter, at room temperature
  • 4 eggs, organic free-range, divided
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 300 g flour 00
  • 16 g baking powder
  • 125 g pine nuts

For the topping

  • 1 egg white
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 25 g pine nuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Grease and line a 22-24 cm round springform pan.
  2. Melt the butter and let it cool. Roughly chop the pine nuts.
  3. Squeeze the lemon, keep the juice aside. Grate the zest and add it to the sugar, massaging it into the sugar.
  4. Separate the egg yolks from the whites in  2 different bowls. Beat the egg yolks with the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar flavored with the lemon zest, the lemon juice and keep beating until all incorporated.
  5. Sift the flour and the baking powder. Add it to the batter by the spoonful, slowly and gently incorporating it.
  6. Beat the egg whites until stiff and add it slowly to the batter, incorporating it with circular movements from the bottom to the top.
  7. Lastly, add the chopped pine nuts and fold gently.
  8. Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan and cook in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Check it, poking with a skewer the center of the cake, if it comes out clean it's done.
  9. In the meantime, beat the egg white with the sugar. Set aside.
  10. Take the cake out of the oven, quickly but gently spread the egg white/sugar on top. Add the rest of the pine nuts and sprinkle some additional sugar on top. Put it back in the oven, turn on the broiler on low, and cook the top for about 5 minutes.
  11. Let cool on a rack.


It keeps in an airtight container or a glass cake stand with lid for 2-3 days then it starts to harden.

  • Category: Dessert, Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian
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