Cakes, Pies & Tarts, Dessert

Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake

Nicoletta September 30, 2020

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Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake. It is a traditional cake made in the Autumn with a kind of grapes called “uva fragola“, a small grape, sweet and aromatic. I used Coronation grapes, a variety that is seedless, sweet, juicy, and plump. There is a layer of grapes in the middle and one on top and a dusting of cane sugar before it hits the oven. The result is a fragrant, delectable, lick-your-fingers cake, perfect for dessert, and why not, breakfast! 

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Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake-cake whole

This is one example of simple Italian cakes that pack a ton of flavor. Torta Bertolina is a traditional harvest cake from Crema, Lombardia, in the North of Italy. It is made with a kind of grapes called “uva fragola“, literally translated as ‘strawberry grape’, small, sweet, and aromatic. This kind of grape is also known as the ‘American grape’ because it was imported from the United States in the 19th century and was then hybridized with grapes of local origin.

 

 

Traditional recipe

Certainly, as every Italian recipe handed down from generation to generation, there are countless variations of Torta Bertolina. Some make a yeast dough and so the cake is more like focaccia, some combine regular flour with cornmeal flour, some add the grapes to the batter, some only on top, and then some, like me, have one layer of grapes in the middle and one on top. 

To clarify, this is my interpretation of the cake, where I combined various Italian recipes and my little variations, but anyways, staying pretty close to tradition.

Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake

Coronation grapes

To make the cake, I used Coronation grapes, a variety of grapes that is seedless, sweet, juicy, and plump. These grapes come from British Columbia, a neighboring Province, and are a symbol of Autumn, and harvest. When leaves start to turn their colors to deep orange, yellow, muted green, and gracefully fall to the ground. That is the time when grapes are at their peak of the season, sweet and rotund, and are perfectly ripe for eating, baking, canning, and winemaking.

Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake-Coronation grapes

Can I use other types of grapes?

Actually, uva fragola is similar to Concord grapes, because it is a variety with seeds, so, if you do not mind seeds, you could use Concord grapes. On the blog, I have a traditional harvest recipe for Tuscan focaccia where I use Concord grapes.

Ingredients

  • Coronation grapes
  • butter, at room temperature
  • cane sugar
  • eggs, at room temperature
  • milk, at room temperature
  • vanilla extract
  • all-purpose flour, or type 0 flour (I used an organic pastry flour)
  • baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake-ingredients

Preparation: making the cake

  • Wash the grapes very gently, separate each grape without breaking them, and place on a clean cloth to dry.
  • Sift the flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter at room temperature with the sugar. Beat at low medium for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • At this point, while still beating, add one egg at a time, and the vanilla, until all are incorporated.
  • After, ad some of the milk, alternating with some of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, and finishing with the rest of the flour. Mix everything until incorporated.

Assembly

  • Butter an 8-inch (20-cm) springform pan and place a circle of parchment paper of the same size on the bottom. Butter the parchment, too.
  • In a bowl, toss the grapes with 1 scant tablespoon of flour.
  • Pour half of the mixture into the pan and level it with the back of a wet spoon (the batter is dense and sticky).
  • Then, arrange half of the floured grapes on top of the mixture. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of cane sugar.
  • After that, cover the grapes with the remaining batter leveling it well with a clean wet spoon. The batter is pretty dense, try to spread it as much as you can and if some grapes move and get incorporated in the batter, that is totally fine.
  • Place the remaining grapes on the surface without pressing them, and sprinkle the last tablespoon of cane sugar on top.
  • Lastly, bake the cake in a preheated oven at 350° F/180°C for 55-60 minutes, checking for doneness after the first 35-40 minutes with a cake tester. The cake tester must come out dry, if not, prolong the baking time 5 minutes at a time. The cake will be ready when the cake tester comes out completely dry. If the top browns quickly, cover it with foil.
  • Once done, remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes. After that, you can take it out of the springform and let it cool completely. Once the cake is cold, place it on a serving dish. And finally, enjoy! 

Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake-cake and two plates

The flavors

To summarize, this cake has many layers of flavor. It is moist and rich and it so nicely holds the nestled grapes that just explode in your mouth with this incredible naturally sweet sensation. I love how the top is crystallized and offers a nice change in texture. All in all, it is a cake that in one bite will leave you feeling joyful and cuddled.

Ahhhh the aroma

One thing for sure, the aroma of this Torta Bertolina is heavenly. One that brings many memories. Loreto says it reminds him of the winemaking season, which is coming up right away. The fragrance of the grapes, fruity, sweet, however, combined with that fresh-baked cake smell gives new meaning to Fall!

Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake-view from the top cake and slice

How long does the cake last?

If you have enough willpower to not devour it, you can keep the Torta Bertolina for 3-4 days at room temperature in a glass cake dome. The cake stays moist and delicious as if freshly baked.

Hope you get the chance to make it, you won’t be disappointed. We shared it with friends and family, and they were all enthusiastic! 

Enjoy!

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Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake-feature-cake and one slice

Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert, cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake. It is a traditional cake, made in the Autumn with a kind of grapes called “uva fragola“, a small grape, sweet and aromatic. I used Coronation grapes, a variety that is seedless, sweet, juicy, and plump. There is a layer of grapes in the middle and one on top and a dusting of cane sugar before it hits the oven. The result is a fragrant, delectable, lick-your-fingers cake, perfect for dessert, and why not, breakfast!


Ingredients

  • 500 g (more or less) of Coronation grapes
  • 90 g butter, at room temperature
  • 100 g cane sugar + 2 Tbsp for the grapes
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 60 ml milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 250 g all-purpose flour, or type 0 flour + 1 Tbsp to toss the grapes (I used an organic pastry flour)
  • 1 sachet/16 g baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Wash the grapes very gently, separate each grape without breaking them, and place on a clean cloth to dry.
  2. Sift the flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter at room temperature with the sugar. Beat at low medium for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. At this point, while still beating, add one egg at a time, and the vanilla, until all are incorporated.
  5. Add some of the milk, alternating with some of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, and finishing with the rest of the flour. Mix everything until incorporated.
  6. Butter an 8-inch (20-cm) springform pan and place a circle of parchment paper of the same size on the bottom.
  7. In a bowl, toss the grapes with 1 scant tablespoon of flour.
  8. Pour half of the mixture into the pan and level it with the back of a wet spoon (the batter is dense and sticky).
  9. Arrange half of the floured grapes on top of the mixture. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of cane sugar.
  10. Then, cover the grapes with the remaining batter leveling it well with a clean wet spoon. The batter is pretty dense, try to spread it as much as you can and if some grapes move and get incorporated in the batter, that is totally fine.
  11. Place the remaining grapes on the surface without pressing them, and sprinkle the last tablespoon of cane sugar on top.
  12. Bake the cake in a preheated oven at 350°F/180°C for 55-60 minutes, checking for doneness after the first 35-40 minutes, with a cake tester. The cake tester must come out dry, if not, prolong the baking time 5 minutes at a time. The cake will be ready when the cake tester comes out completely dry. If the top browns quickly, cover it with foil.
  13. Once done, remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes. After that, you can take it out of the springform and let it cool completely. Once the cake is cold, place it on a serving dish.
  14. Enjoy!

Notes

You can keep the Torta Bertolina for 3-4 days at room temperature in a glass cake dome. The cake stays moist and delicious.

If you do not mind the seeds, you can use Concord grapes instead of Coronation grapes.

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Torta Bertolina, Italian Grape Cake-closeup slice

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22 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply Karen October 3, 2020 at 8:29 am

    I like this dish. I cook this dish within 1 hour. I followed your recipe. After that I had a delicious meal. This recipe is simple and effective.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 3, 2020 at 8:31 am

      Nice to hear you liked it. Thank you for the feedback!

  • Avatar
    Reply Ramona October 5, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    I just want to go to Italy again to have their amazing food and desserts! the look of this grape cake just brings back memories from when i went to Italy and now im dying to go back. The taste of this grape cake just makes me drool, i cant wait to make it!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 6, 2020 at 8:19 am

      Hi Ramona, the taste is absolutely wonderful, sweet and fragrant. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Heidi Fink October 5, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    Hi Nicoletta, I am just about to make this recipe, but I don’t see a measurement for the grapes! I am just going to eyeball it, but I thought you might want to add the grape measurement to the recipe. 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 6, 2020 at 8:18 am

      Did I forget it?? I did! Thank you so much, I updated it, it is about 500 grams, hope your cake turned out good! Sorry about that, somebody else made the cake but they did not tell me I forgot to add the grape measurement. Please, let me know how it goes!

  • Avatar
    Reply Aleta October 6, 2020 at 8:33 am

    I am on the west coast of BC and LOVE when it’s grape season! I usually end up buying way more than I can eat, so this cake is absolutely perfect! It’s got all the flavour and a beautiful texture – I had to stop my husband from eating any more – he had three slices one night!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 7, 2020 at 3:46 pm

      Thank you for the feedback! It is a truly delicious cakes, and one of the best uses of seasonal grapes 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Farrukh Aziz October 6, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Hey Nicoletta,
    This Italian Grape Cake looks absolutely gorgeous and delicious! Perfect moist and look at that cut slice, drool worthy! I would love to make this at my home for my son who loves grapes in every form.
    Clear steps and easy to follow instructions.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 7, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you for the compliments! Hope you try it, it is absolutely delicious. People that tried it sent me pictures, somebody replaced milk with white wine, somebody also made muffins out of it. Let me know how it goes, please!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kathryn Donangelo October 8, 2020 at 11:20 am

    This cake is so delicious! I loved the grapes in the cake, it gave this cake such great flavor and it was the first time making a grape cake! I will be making this recipe again, thank you!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 12, 2020 at 10:35 am

      Noe very many outside of Italy bake with grapes, glad you tried it. It is an awesome cake! Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Marta October 8, 2020 at 11:40 am

    It dawned on me as I was eating this cake that I’ve never baked with grapes before. Thanks for opening my eyes to a whole new world!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 12, 2020 at 10:37 am

      You’re welcome! Hope to inspire more and more people to try baking with grapes. It’s amazing. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Laura October 11, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Love how this recipe is made with few ingredients. Need to make this cake next week! Thank you

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 12, 2020 at 10:38 am

      Thank you! Hope you try it, it’s easy and delicious.

  • Avatar
    Reply Moop Brown October 11, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    This recipe seems super simple and straightforward and incredibly tasty as well. Can’t wait to try making this one!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 12, 2020 at 10:38 am

      Thanks! Yes, it’s all of the above 😉 . Hope you try it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Veronika Sykorova October 11, 2020 at 8:32 pm

    I bought a bunch of grapes at the market on Saturday and this is the perfedct recipe to use them in! Yum!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 12, 2020 at 10:41 am

      Definitely the best use, other than eating them as is 🙂 Hope you try it, you won’t be disappointed!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey October 12, 2020 at 1:22 am

    This torta bertolina grape cake looks incredibly tasty, definetely going bake this weekend as next is my turn to treat my collegeuge at work. Want to try something different than just a normal chocolate cake.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 12, 2020 at 10:42 am

      Definitely not just another chocolate cake 😉 . Whoever tried it, loved it. Hope you try it! Thank you!

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