Italian Cake's

Italian Pignolata (Pine nut Biscuit Cake)

The cookbook addict has another new cookbook.
I can’t help myself.

Sometimes I get them from the publisher to review on my blog, and other times I splurge and buy one, but I do a lot of research first, making sure I will love and use the book. I have so many already, that it has to be worth my while to justify another cookbook purchase.

Cooking With Italian Grandmothers is such the book. Beautiful.

I have every other page bookmarked. I want to make everything.

More than just recipes, this book showcases 12 different ladies, all grandmothers, each from different regions in Italy and their beautiful cooking.

They cook with what they have locally available to them. There is a story and history about each region and what is grown there. Each recipe is regional and special.

I am not a baker, but I plan on trying almost every dessert in this book!

My first attempt was Armida’s recipe for La Pignolata (Pine Nut Biscuit Cake).

Armida is from Tuscany and actually picks the pignoli nuts from her trees along with the lemons. I don’t have such luxury here in NJ, so I made due with Trader Joe’s pine nuts and store bought lemons.

I made a few changes, the original cooking time was 40-50 minutes, but my little tart was done in 30 and I also baked it in a small 8″ tart pan, since a cake pan was just too big.

This was more of a cookie than a cake (hence the word “biscuit”), lovely and dense. You just need a small slice with your cappuccino.


La Pignolata: (adapted from Cooking with Italian Grandmothers)



  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted pignoli nuts (pine nuts), plus 1 tbsp for the top
  • 1 egg white for glazing the cake
  • 1 tbsp of sugar (I used turbinado for a nice crunch) for cake top



  1. Butter an 8″ tart or cake pan. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream together BUTTER and sugar. Mix in the lemon zest, rosemary, egg yolks and the salt.
  3. Stir in the flour and the 1/2 cup of pine nuts. You may need to use your hands to incorporate the dough at this point.
  4. Armida wants you to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour or so, but I didn’t do this, because I couldn’t wait, and the recipe came out fine. But if you have the hour to spare, wrap the dough and let it rest.
  5. With your knuckles, spread the dough out in the prepared pan and sprinkle the dough with the tablespoon of pine nuts. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle the top w/ sugar, it will get nice and crunchy.

  6. Bake 30 minutes or until the pignolata is a nutty brown and pulling away from the edges.
  7. Let rest in the pan on a rack, then remove the cake once it has cooled a bit.
    Slice it while it’s still warm, before it hardens, into small pie shaped slices.
  8. We ate it warm because we were impatient and it was delicious. The next day it hardens more like a cookie and is great for dunking.

  9. Enjoy!



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