Every region in Italy lays claim to Torta di Noci, with the Venetian version being richer with added chocolate and, at the other end of the scale, the Calabrian version being rather more humble with only three ingredients. This version from Anna del Conte falls somewhere in between.
You will need:
120g unsalted butter at room temperature
180g icing sugar, sifted
3 large eggs at room temperature, separated
150g walnut pieces
120g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt
grated zest of lemon
¼ tsp lemon juice
unsalted butter and dried breadcrumbs for the tin
icing sugar to decorate
Heat the oven to 180C
Beat the butter until very soft. Gradually beat in the icing sugar to make a smooth, thick cream.
Lightly beat the egg yolks together with a fork and add to the butter cream, mixing thoroughly
Chop the walnuts until coarsely ground, taking care not to chop them too finely. Stir into the butter mixture
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together and fold into the butter mixture with the orange zest
Whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice until stiff but not dry and fold into the mixture using a metal spoon.
Butter a 20cm springform cake tin. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, shake the tin to cover all surfaces and then shake out the excess crumbs. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until the cake is done. Unclip the side band and turn the cake onto a wire rack to cool
Sprinkle lavishly with icing sugar before serving.
In Italy, you will find very few wines or foods which are too sweet - even their dessert wines such as the Ramandolo from either Gori Agricola or Dario Coos has a honey sweetness which is skillfully balanced with a hint of sharpness. This wine is a perfect match for a perfect walnut cake such as this one.