Florentine cake

Florentine cake

Schiacciata Fiorentina

By
From
Tuscany
Serves
6
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

These dramatic orange-scented cakes dominate the pastry shops of Florence at the time of Carnevale towards the end of January and through February. They are usually made in a large square or rectangular tin and decorated with the giglio fleur-de-lys symbol of Florence. They are often served plain for breakfast but I prefer mine stuffed full of sweetened whipped cream.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the sponge

Quantity Ingredient
2 large eggs
200g caster sugar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium orange, finely grated zested
150ml whole milk
250g ‘00’ or plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt

For the filling

Quantity Ingredient
350ml whipping cream
25g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

Gluten-free sponge

Quantity Ingredient
4 large eggs
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g cornflour
225g caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 orange, finely grated zested, (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Generously butter a rectangular loose-bottomed cake tin measuring around 35 × 12 × 3 cm, or a square or round 20–24 cm springform cake tin. The sponge will be cut horizontally through the middle, making two halves.
  2. To make the sponge, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl or a stand mixer for around 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Pour in the oil, orange zest and milk and whisk again briefly until blended. Sift in the flour and baking powder, add the salt, and whisk once more. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20–25 minutes or until the sponge feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes to cool in the tin. Run a knife between the cake and the tin to loosen it, then unclip the tin or push it up by the base and put the cake on a wire rack to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling by whipping the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl until it forms soft peaks. Split the cake in half by cutting through the middle horizontally with a large serrated knife. Spread the bottom half with a thick layer of cream, then top with the other half. Run a clean finger or palette knife along the sides of the cake to smooth away any cream spilling out and neaten the edges. Dust with sifted icing sugar and serve as it is or make a stencil and scatter over cocoa powder. Put the cake into the fridge to set firm for 1 hour and serve chilled. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge and in my opinion seems to improve with time. For a gluten-free sponge, follow the recipe below.

Variation: Gluten-free sponge

  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin and cook as above.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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