Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Torta Margherita

Ever since I used potato flour for that pear and walnut sponge pudding I've had the urge to make that quintessential Italian cake, Torta Margherita. The key to this cake's intriguing texture is in the flour - potato flour.

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As you can see, potato flour is pure white in colour, very finely textured, it's like a cross between icing sugar and pure cornflour. For those with gluten intolerance, you'll be happy to know that this is gluten free.

Torta Margherita is one of the cakes my mother would reserve for special occasions. It is as light as a sponge but has a fascinating, almost chewy crust and great mouth-feel which I can only credit as a property of potato flour.

Torta Margherita© by Haalo

Torta Margherita

4 eggs
150 grams caster sugar
120 grams potato flour
finely grated rind of 1 lemon


The most important part in making Torta Margherita is ensuring that the eggs and sugar have been whipped correctly - you can't rush this and as my mother tells me, back in Italy without the benefit of electric mixers, this process would take a good 30-40 minutes to do by hand.

Place the eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until thick and creamy. Stop after about 5 minutes to add the grated lemon and then continue beating for another 5 minutes. In my Kitchen Aid bowl, this reached almost to the top of the bowl.

Double sift the potato flour and on a low speed sprinkle in the flour - once it has all been added, increase the heat and whip for 10-15 seconds to ensure the flour has been dispersed.

Pour the mixture into a buttered and lined cake tin - I used a 23cm spring-form pan but you could divide the mixture to make 2 x 18cm cakes.

Bake in a preheated 160°C/320°F oven until golden and cooked through. Much like a souffle this will rise will cooking.

Cool slightly before removing it from the pan and then dust with icing sugar.

Torta Margherita© by Haalo

This is a very simple version - split it and fill it with crema pasticcera for a more decadent option.

16 comments:

  1. Potato flour in cake? thats new to me, looks so perfectly baked!

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  2. That's real joy!
    Reminds me when I was a child, having tea with my grannie, she was the best T. Margherita's baker for me!

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  3. My modifications to the recipe:
    I put my regular white sugar in the blender for about 15 seconds to make it easier absorbed by the eggs since I couldn't get the kind of sugar called for. I used only half the amount of potato flour needed and used bakery flour for the rest (with yeist in it) and a half packet of yeist because I didn't have time to bea the eggs and sugur suffieciently. I added peaches on top. The baking time was only 20 minutes! It turned out marvellously! Four of us ate the WHOLE cake for dessert. A total hit!

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  4. that potato flour is so interesting. this cake is totally new to me.

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  5. Hard to imagine beating the sugar by hand for 4o minutes... But it looks like it would be worth it!

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  6. I'm intrigued by the flour.

    You have to beat it 30-40 minutes by hand. Oh, my!

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  7. wow....interesting for sure....I also am new to this cake

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  8. Thanks Jenny!

    Thanks Parita - there are quite a few traditional Italian cakes that use potato flour

    Thanks Cindy - I bet the torta was magnificient!

    Sounds lovely Dominique

    Thanks MM!

    Indeed Kate - the texture is really quite lovely

    Thanks Paz - we're so lucky to have our electric beaters

    Thanks Trish!

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  9. >You have to beat it 30-40 minutes by hand. Oh, my!

    Give us a break, in Italy electric kitchen appliances became commonplace since 1956-1960 with the advent of the postwar economic "Boom", so please stop trying to slather a fictitious "Old World" flavor about unpowered cooking.

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  10. So what did people do before 1956 or maybe people just didn't exist then? Maybe you need to take your head out of your arse for a change you might actually learn something.

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  11. To S. Kahani; The post war boom was not very much noticed in the country side of middle and southern Italy, believe me, many housewives were happily beating away by hand until far into the 60's! (Including many of my family in law and their friends)

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  12. We lived here in the good old US of A and my mother didn't have an electric mixer until the mid-60's so well I remember mixing bowls and spoons which my sister and I loved to lick clean. Actually, I sort of miss them--though I don't think I'd want to whip those eggs for 30 minutes by hand, thank you!

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  13. I *love* this cake! Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I have a friend with celiac disease and I have looked high and low for good GF dessert recipes. None of the things I'd made previously were big successes, but she raved over this one and asked for a second piece. I will definitely make this again!

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  14. Thanks Alia, always love to know that the recipe has been enjoyed - I think it works because it's not a recipe that has needed to be modified to become gluten free, it's naturally gluten free because of the potato flour.

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  15. Hi there,
    Firstly, thanks for for the recipe! It is brilliant and it works (even with a modification).
    When I was looking for an easy birthday cake to make for my Mum, and something that has no gluten(my part), your recipe came up. So, I decided to make it a combination - for her and for me. :)
    My Mum is diabetic, no sugar for her. I decided to use VERY ripe bananas instead. It worked. It was sweet and delicious. Only, do not keep it longer than 4 days, as it sags and gets too dry. :D
    My next step will be to use bananas and apples. I really wonder how juicy will it be/stay.
    Once again thank you. This recipe has been saved for the further use. :)
    Tihana from Croatia

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