Keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, here is another of our family favorites adapted from the gifted Gina DePalma of Babbo in Greenwich Village. If you are not familiar with this recipe, you are missing something extraordinary. In it’s simplicity, Pumpkin Cake with Rosemary or Torta di Zucca delivers the essence of a fall evening in the Italian countryside – comforting, straightforward, and satisfying. The ingredients couldn’t be more Italian – olive oil, rosemary, raisins, Grappa, pine nuts; pleasantly evoking something typically prepared by a loving Nonna using only what she had on hand.
We generally have quite a large crowd at Thanksgiving so I doubled the original recipe with excellent results. I suggest using a 9×13 metal cake pan with a removable bottom. At Babbo, the Torta is served with an Olive Oil Gelato, but honestly, Torta di Zucca is dense, moist, and able to proudly stand on its own. It’s an ideal dessert to bring when invited over to friends, garnished with a few rosemary sprigs and a scattering of pine nuts. When entertaining at home, I sometimes plate individual servings of Torta di Zucca adorned with some grappa soaked golden raisins, a few pine nuts, and a drizzle of warmed honey infused with rosemary.
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 cup golden raisins
- ½ cup boiling water
- 4 Tbs. Grappa
- 2 cups cake flour
- ½ tsp. of kosher salt
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ⅓ cup Grappa
- 1 cup good quality robust honey
- 1 large sprig of rosemary
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- 1 bunch or fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 325º. Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking pan (with removable bottom if available) and then line the pan with parchment paper, oil the parchment paper.
- Pour the boiling water over the golden raisins and allow them to sit for 15 minutes, drain well and add the grappa to the raisins.
- Sift together the cake flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.
- Place the eggs and the light brown sugar in the work bowl of an electric mixture and beat on high until the mixture is light in color, almost a golden and foam like in consistency. This may take 4 to 6 minutes, stop once to scrape down the bowl. Add the rosemary leaves and mix until incorporated. Adjust the mixer to low speed and slowly add the olive oil until it has all become incorporated and the mixture is homogeneous.
- Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients by hand at first, then beat on low, scraping down once. Continue briefly to make sure there are no flour lumps, add the pumpkin and beat until smooth. Stir in the grappa soaked raisins and pine nuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top by gently shaking the pan back and forth.
- Bake for about 40 minutes or unit the cake is firm at the center. Cook on a wire rack for 20 minutes, remove and continue to cool. The cake can be wrapped and stored for a day.
- Combine the ½ cup of golden raisins and ⅓ cup of grappa in a glass jar and allow to sit for at least one day. I often have these on hand as they will keep indefinitely and the longer they sit the better. Heat the cup of honey lightly in a small saucepan along with the rosemary sprig, pour into a glass jar and reserve.
- Torta di Zucca may be sliced and presented with a simple garnish of rosemary and pine nuts or individually served with some of the grappa raisins, pine nuts, and a drizzle of the rosemary-honey.
I love the sound of this cake and must be unbelievably moist! I just recently started baking with Rosemary and love it’s subtle fragrance in baked goods. My husband would surely get a kick out of the grappa soaked raisins. Looks wonderful
Grappa soaked raisins are a staple in our house to use in baking or as a topping for gelato. The cake is tender and moist, not especially a formal type cake, but ever so satisfying. Thank you of much for reading and commenting Marisa.
A 9 x 13 pan with a removable bottom is the one pan that I do not own! Looks gorgeous and classically Italian.
I am quietly laughing as I read that – no need for the removable bottom pan, just line whatever 9 X 13 you have with parchment. The cake is quintisentially Italian in its simplicity, but can be dressed up if need be.