This simple cake is light and airy, not too sweet and tastes as delicious when fresh as when toasted. We Italians like to dunk the Torta semplice into our coffee, a hot cocoa or a glass of cold milk. And the best thing: in Italy, this traditional cake is never out of season!
Cake for breakfast
In most Italian households the Torta is baked at the weekend – like that, the whole family can enjoy it for Sunday breakfast. Placed under a bell jar, the cake will stay fresh for up to a week – if it’s not eaten up beforehand!
The simple cake also goes perfectly with afternoon tea or coffee, and it is also a perfect quick snack between meals.
If you notice it getting a little dry towards the end of the week, cut the cake into slices, and you can toast these slices, spreading them with some butter and jam or honey. Delicious!
Why the cake has to be dry
In the past, only the rich were able to afford a sweet breakfast with cake or biscuits. Up until the 1950s, the poorer people of Italy ate a hearty breakfast that was eaten late in the morning. They used to dunk bread or polenta in a cup of milk or milk soup. A slice of salami or a piece of cheese was served. But one thing united rich and poor: dunking baked goods into some kind of liquid because they were often dry and hard. Nowadays, the dunking has become more of a cherished habit than a necessity in Italy. And this is exactly why most traditional cakes and biscuits tend to be dry and prepared without cream.
Torta semplice – simple cake
- 290 g flour
- 300 g sugar
- 7 eggs
- 200 ml milk lukewarm
- ½ pack baking powder
- 100 ml oil
- 200 g milk chocolate
- 1 pinch salt
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (upper and lower heat). Line a baking tin (Ø 26 cm and approx. 10 cm high) with baking paper. Mix together flour and baking powder. Sieve the mixture so that the baking powder is evenly distributed. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites with half of the sugar until stiff.
Beat the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar until you create a light-coloured mixture. Alternately, add flour and milk to the mixture. Then, add the salt. Gradually stir in the oil, one-third at a time. Make sure to wait until the dough has fully absorbed the first third of oil before adding the next. Finally, carefully fold in the beaten egg white with a whisk.
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie or in a microwave, and let it cool down for a while. In the meantime, pour the dough into the baking tin. Pour the chocolate over the surface of the cake and immediately draw a star-shaped pattern onto it with a small stick (a chopstick would be perfect) – this will look like a small decoration once the cake is baked. Bake the torta in a pre-heated oven for 70-75 minutes (don’t forget the toothpick test). Leave it to cool and enjoy!