Torta Sbrisolona—a Crunchy Almond Cake

A bowl of granola with almonds and lemons on a table.

If you have never done much baking, but you would like to have a wonderful rustic cake, a sbrisolona cake is what you’d want to make. It’s easy and quick. All you need is a short time to put together the simple ingredients, pour it into the pan, and bake it. A wonderful scent will spread throughout your kitchen. Two words to describe it: simply delicious!

A close up of a dish with almonds and powdered sugar.

Sbrisolona comes from the area of Mantua (near the romantic Lake Garda), in northern Italy.  Its ingredients are cornmeal, sugar, butter and almonds, all of which create crunchy pieces of dough that literally melt in your mouth. It is a humble and ancient cake, which used to be baked by famers’ wives, who just put together a few ingredients to make a flavorful and sweet cake, hence the name, “Sbrisolona,” which in Italian means, Si sbriciola or “to crumble.”

Mine, the easiest of them all, is the original recipe. You might encounter plenty of variations—the most famous one is with nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) filling. You may also stuff it with apples, jam, custard, lemon custard, ricotta cheese or anything else you desire. Using the same method, you can also bake smaller cakes (muffins for instance). The results will be amazing! 

What’s sbrisolona like?

The genuine sbrisolona is a rustic, crunchy cake which melts in your mouth. Crumbly and flavorful, it is made and served in large coarse pieces. What you taste are almonds and butter; no other cakes have the same crunchy texture as sbrisolona. You will feel how crispy it is on the first bite. 

It is served at the end of the meal, simply paired with a few spoons of custard, some liquor, or coffee. It is also a tempting snack to combine with some hot tea or coffee in the afternoon. Since it keeps for a long time, you might wrap it up in a nice paper as an unusual but tasty present for a friend. 

What do you need to make sbrisolona?


  • Almonds: You may use almond flour, but your cake will lose its peculiar rustic feature. So, buy unpeeled, unsalted organic almonds, and chop them coarsely. This way they will keep their color and taste. 
  • Sugar: Powdered sugar is normally used. If you like a more rustic and stronger taste, use brown cane sugar. 
  • Egg yolks: Only use yolks, not egg whites; otherwise, your cake will become a hard marble disk. 
  • Lemon: It balances the sweetness of the cake and gives it a lighter and fresher taste. 
  • Vanilla: It enhances the aroma of the almonds. I only use vanilla beans, but it’s fine if you use vanilla extract. 
  • Use a 9-inch (23cm) round baking pan. 

Torta sbrisolona- easy crunchy almond cake

You are not very keen on cooking, but you would like to eat a toothsome rustic cake, which must fall apart to be good- Sbrisolona cake is what you want! Easy and fast to prepare, just the time to shape the mixture in the baking pan and bake it…a wonderful perfume will spread all over your kitchen. Two words: simply delicious! 
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword crunchy almond cake, torta sbrisolona
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp  of all-purpose flour (100g)
  • ¾  cup of very fine cornmeal
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup  of whole unpeeled almonds
  • ½ cup of organic butter (120g)
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon 
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean 
  • ½  cup of powdered sugar + 2 tablespoons for garnish (100g
  • A pinch of sea salt  
Servings 8 people


  • Coarsely grind the almonds with the sugar in a food processor. Pulse them in short bursts; refrain from running the food processor continuously because overheated almonds release oil making it bitter. 
  • In a bowl, mix the almond/sugar mix, flour, cornmeal, grated lemon zest, and salt. Mix it well with your hands. Mix in the vanilla bean or extract.
  • Add the egg yolk and rub in the pieces of cold butter with your fingertips until you have a coarse breadcrumb-like texture. 
  • Combine well and put the mixture in a 9-inch buttered baking pan.
  • Press loosely and top it off with powdered sugar. Place a few almonds on the surface. 
  • Bake at 350°F (180°) on the center rack in a static oven for 20 minutes; then at 320°F (160°) for another 15 minutes until golden brown.
  • Five minutes before the cake is done, put it on the lower rack of the oven so that it gets wonderfully crunchy.
  • If you want an even crunchier cake, bake it for another 5-6 minutes. 
  • Cover it with aluminum foil in case it gets too brown. 
  • Put the cake onto the lower rack for the last 5 minutes.
  • Take it out of the oven, and let it cool completely before serving it. If it falls apart when you remove it from the pan, you will have baked a perfect sbrisolona!


A mouthwatering nutella sbrisolona 
Do you want an unforgettable sbrisolona? Follow these instructions: 
  • 1 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons (200g) of all-purpose flour 
  • 1 ¼ cups (200g) of very fine cornmeal
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups (200g) of whole unpeeled almonds
  •  1 cup or 2 sticks (240g) of organic butter
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon 
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of extract 
  • 180 of powdered sugar+ 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • A pinch of sea salt 
  • Nutella or any nut cream- enough to stuff the cake evenly 
  1. Follow the above-mentioned instructions to make the mixture with a breadcrumb-like texture;
  2. Use a 9-inch (24cm) round baking pan;
  3. Divide the mixture into two halves and put half of the mixture in the pan lined with parchment paper; 
  4. Spread on a generous layer of nutella; 
  5. Cover with the remaining almond mixture, but do not mix too much; 
  6. Press the surface loosely, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and place a few almonds on the surface;  
  7. Bake at 350°F (180°) on the center rack in a static oven for 20 minutes; then at 320°F (160°) for another 15 minutes until golden brown; 
  8. Five minutes before the cake is done, put it on the lower rack of the oven so that it will get wonderfully crunchy;
  9. Cover it with aluminum foil in case it gets too brown;
  10. Take it out of the oven and let cool completely before serving it. Enjoy!
A dish with a slice of cake and nuts on a table.

How can you store it?

It keeps for up to 2 weeks in a cake container at room temperature, or you may freeze it for up to 2 months. You may also freeze the dough for up to 2 months.

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