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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Butter an 8-inch (20-cm) springform pan and place a circle of parchment paper of the same size on the bottom.
- 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).
- Arrange half of the floured grapes on top of the mixture. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of cane sugar.
- 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.
- Place the remaining grapes on the surface without pressing them, and sprinkle the last tablespoon of cane sugar on top.
- 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.
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.