Tuscan Pignolata alla Patrizia Recipe

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A traditional Tuscan Pine Nut Cake and a favorite of my Dad's with his evening espresso!



  • 1 1/2 cups pine nuts plus more for top of cake, lightly toasted
  • 3/4 cup sugar processed in food processor with 1 cup almond paste till completely incorporated
  • 3 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon plus zest of 1 orange

  • 3 1/2 cups flour

  • 2 tablespoons baking powder

  • 4 whole eggs

  • heaping 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche

  • 4 large egg whites

  • 6 tablespoons sugar 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

  2. Cream the sugar, butter and citrus zests together (I use a stand mixer with the paddle).  Scrape down occasionally.
Add 2 cups of the flour and baking powder. 
  4. Mix until incorporated and then add 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing till completely incorporated before adding the second egg. 
  5. Add the remaining flour, mix well, then add the last 2 eggs, again one at a time

  6. Add the creme fraiche and lemon juice and beat till smooth.
  7. As you continue mixing, add the lemon juice and incorporate.
  8. Scrape down the sides and bottom and mix well with a spatula. 
  9. In a separate bowl, with very clean beaters, beat egg whites on high till frothy. Very slowly add sugar and continue to beat till it forms stiff glossy peaks.
  10. Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula to combine well.  Add the rest of the meringue and fold in well until the mixture is combined.  I use my stand mixer on the very lowest speed.
  11. Fold in the pignoli 
  12. Use a 12” tart pan with a remove-able bottom or a 12 “ springform pan. Spray well with PAM and spread batter in pan. Sprinkle some more pignoli on top and bake for 45-50 minutes till it tests done.

  13. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 30-40 minutes
  14. Carefully remove to a cake rack to cool completely.  
  15. For the record, the spring-form pan works better- it’s a bit messy getting the cake out of the tart pan.
  16. When completely cool dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve plain or topped with warmed jam or preserves. This cake freezes well too.
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