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TUSCAN FLAT CAKEOne summer, several friends and I went on a three-week trip to Italy. To say we ate and drank a lifetime of deliciousness in twenty-one days would be an understatement. One of our favorite towns was Luciano, where we took several authentic Italian cooking classes. This is one of the desserts Fabrizio, our instructor, taught us.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 1 cup plus ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • Pan Grease (this page) or extra vegetable shortening and flour for
  • preparing the pans
  • 3¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Grated zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
How to Make It
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the ½ teaspoon granulated sugar in the warm water. Stir in the yeast until it is completely dissolved. Let sit until the mixture foams, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Coat an 11 × 15 × 2-inch baking pan with Pan Grease (this page) or a thin layer of shortening with a light dusting of flour.
  3. Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the yeast mixture. Beat on low speed until the dough is firm and easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 3 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar, shortening, egg yolks, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Add this mixture to the dough and beat on low speed until thoroughly blended, 3 minutes.
  5. Evenly press the dough into the baking pan to a 1-inch thickness. Cover the dough and let it rise again in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the dough and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool for 15 to 20 minutes before turning it out onto a rectangular cake platter and dusting with confectioners’ sugar. The cake can be served whole or cut into individual pieces.

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