Authentic Italian Buckwheat Cake | Torta di Grano Saraceno

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Buckwheat cake is one of the most delicious and characteristic desserts of Trentino Alto Adige, a region in Northern Italy, where it’s called “Schwarzplententorte”.

It’s a simple and rustic cake with a special texture and unique taste.

Traditionally, this cake is filled with currant or cranberry jam. The tart flavor of the red berry jam blends perfectly with the strong flavor of the buckwheat.

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Authentic Italian Buckwheat Cake is naturally gluten-free, using only buckwheat flour and chopped hazelnuts.

This delicious cake smells of butter and is firm but not dry thanks to the presence of grated apples in the dough.

Buckwheat cake is perfect for breakfast, but also for a tasty and hearty snack.

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It’s also very beautiful and colorful, so you can serve it as a dessert after an important meal or at Christmas time.

In Trentino Alto Adige they serve it with whipped cream and cinnamon-scented tea. But it’s also delicious with a scoop of Italian gelato.

A traditional Italian cake, fluffy, delicious and gluten-free. A unique and inimitable treat! So let’s see how to make the authentic Italian buckwheat cake recipe!

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Authentic Italian Buckwheat Cake Recipe: Ingredients

  • Prep Time: 15 Min
  • Cook Time: 45 Min
  • Servings: 6

Doses for a 20 cm (8 inch) non-stick Springform Pan with Removable Bottom

  • 150 g (1 1/4 cups) of buckwheat flour
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) of granulated sugar
  • 150 g (1 1/2 cups) of chopped hazelnuts
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 medium whole eggs
  • 1  apple
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 8 g (1 2/3 teaspoons) of baking powder
  • 1/6 teaspoon of fine salt
  • 250 g (1 cup) cranberry jam (or raspberries, blueberries or currants)
  • icing sugar for decoration

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Kitchen Tools and Equipment

If you don’t already have one, invest in a very useful electric hand blender to mix the ingredients well, adding them gradually without stopping. We recommend the Digital Hand Mixer from KitcheAid.

A 8-inch (20 cm) Non-stick Springform Pan with Removable Bottom can be very useful for easier removal of the cake after baking.

Next, get some kitchen twine to make it easier to cut the cake into two slices.

Finally, we recommend a cake dome to preserve the fragrance and softness of the buckwheat cake even for 3-4 days.

How to Make Buckwheat Cake Recipe: Instructions

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Step 1) – First, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Add 50 g (1/4 cup) of sugar to the egg whites.

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Step 2) – Whisk the egg whites until stiff and set aside.

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Step 3) – In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the remaining sugar (100 g – 1/2 cup) and the salt until fluffy.

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Step 4) – Now add one egg yolk at a time, beating until smooth.

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Step 5) – Add the buckwheat flour and baking powder. Mix the flour well into the egg, butter and sugar mixture.

At this point the mixture is quite thick and difficult to work with, which is normal. You can continue to mix with a spatula or spoon.

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Step 6) – Now add the grated lemon zest, the grated apple and the chopped hazelnuts and mix it all together with a spatula.

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Step 7) – Finally, add the beaten egg whites and gently incorporate with the spatula, taking care not to deflate them too much.

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Step 8) – Line a 22 cm (9 inch) pan with baking parchment. Pour the mixture into the pan and level it well.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (356°F) for about 45-50 minutes.

Always test with a toothpick – it should come out completely dry – before removing the cake from the oven.

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Step 9) – Allow the cake to cool very well. Once cooled, cut it in half horizontally. Let’s see how to do it.

How to Cut the Buckwheat Cake Horizontally (with the Help of a Twine)

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Step 10) – You should mark the circumference with the blade of a knife, as if to create a groove in which to insert the twine.

Gently pull the crossed ends of the twine and you will have the two cake disks.

This method helps you split the cake into two perfectly equal layers.

Italian buckwheat cake recipe step 11

Step 11) – Fill the surface of the bottom cake layer with plenty of currant or cranberry jam, then cover with the top cake layer. Finally dust with icing sugar.

The Italian buckwheat cake is ready!

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You can store the buckwheat cake under a cake dome or in a dish covered with plastic wrap for up to 3 or 4 days.

You can also freeze it, but without the filling. Thaw at room temperature, then cut horizontally and fill with jam.

What Other Types of Jam Can I Use to Fill the Buckwheat Cake?

As mentioned above, this cake is traditionally filled with currant or cranberry jam. The tart flavor of red berry jam goes well with the strong flavor of buckwheat.

Blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, or cranberry jam, or a mixture of berries, are also commonly used for this cake. Of course, there is nothing to stop you from using your favorite jam.

However, we don’t recommend a jam that is too sweet. In fact, the acidity of the filling is what makes this cake special.

In addition to traditional berry jams, apple or plum jams may also work well.

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Buckwheat Cake with Fresh Cranberries

For an even richer version, or to avoid jam, add fresh or frozen Cranberries to the dough.

This addition adds a fresh, tart note that can replace the jam or simply enhance it.

Hazelnuts or Almonds in Buckwheat Cake?

In addition to buckwheat and red fruit jam, the other key ingredient in this cake are the hazelnuts.

You can grind them into grains or more finely as flour. The texture will obviously change: more rustic in the former case, more refined in the latter.

Many people substitute almonds for hazelnuts, but the authentic buckwheat cake recipe calls for hazelnuts.

 Vegan Buckwheat Cake

This is a butterless and eggless version of the South Tyrolean Schwarzplententorte.

In this Vegan Buckwheat Cake recipe, we naturally replaced butter and eggs with ingredients that would recreate the proper moist but firm texture.

We simply replaced the butter with 80 g (1/3 cup) of canola oil and the eggs with a liquid ingredient, which could be a vegetable milk (such as almond or coconut milk) or even just room temperature water (250 ml/1 cup). The end result is really good.

The first step is to put the buckwheat flour in a bowl and whisk it into, say, almond milk.

Then add the sugar, canola oil, chopped hazelnuts, lemon zest and grated apple, stirring all the time.

Finally, add the baking powder and stir. In the end, bake and follow the traditional recipe.

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What is Buckwheat (Grano Saraceno)?

Despite its name, buckwheat is not a grain and therefore not a member of the grass family. Buckwheat is an herbaceous plant belonging to the Polygonaceae family.

In terms of classification, fagopyrum esculentum (this is its scientific name) can only be called a grain in a generic sense. In fact, the term “cereal” is often used for any species whose seeds or fruits can be ground.

Compared to wheat, the most important difference is that buckwheat is completely GLUTEN-FREE.

Buckwheat has its roots in Eastern culture, known as Heidenkorn, literally “grain of the heathens”.

The name of buckwheat – in Italian “grano saraceno” – refers to the fact that Arab traders (Saracens) introduced this type of wheat.

Because it has dark grains, it’s also known as “black wheat” or even “wheat of the blacks,” that is the Saracens.

Buckwheat has successfully spread throughout Russia and Europe, where it’s grown mainly in parts of Germany and France.

In northern Italy, buckwheat is widely used. It’s very common in the culinary tradition of mountain areas. It’s cultivated mainly in the provinces of Sondrio and Bolzano.

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Buckwheat Cake: Origins

Buckwheat cake does not owe its origin to the creativity of some famous alpine pastry chefs, but to the domestic environment.

In the Alps, especially in South Tyrol and Cadore, buckwheat has always been widespread and for centuries it was the main source of food for the people of the Alps.

Mixing this flour with a few simple local ingredients gave rise to this popular and delicious cake.

In fact, Aldo Bertoluzza, an Italian historian born at the beginning of the 20th century, states in his book “De coquina” that between the 16th and 17th centuries a buckwheat cake very similar to the present one was very popular in Trentino.

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2 thoughts on “Authentic Italian Buckwheat Cake | Torta di Grano Saraceno”

  1. Thank you for this recipe. I ended up modifying it for an eggless version, which came out moist and fluffy. Ended up spooning a lemon syrup over the layers while still hot, then cooling them and sandwiching them with whipped cream. Served with raspberry jam.


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