Italian Walnut Cake, known as "torta di noci," is a traditional three-ingredient cake made with walnuts, eggs, and sugar. This classic Italian dessert is a flourless treat with a sweet dense texture that's perfect for any occasion.
Torta di Noci is the classic Italian walnut cake recipe that's naturally gluten-free and made with just three ingredients. This recipe comes together fast and is a unique and flavorful treat that's easy to make.
If you love nuts, be sure to try these Chocolate Walnut Cookies, Italian Baci di Dama cookies, Panforte di Siena, Chocolate Walnut Cake, or this Pumpkin Walnut Bread. For another simple three-ingredient Italian dessert, try the classic Italian Sponge Cake recipe! For a classic no-rise Italian nut bread, be sure to try Pandolce!
You'll Love Italian Walnut Cake
Italian Walnut Cake or Torta di Noci, is a classic rustic cake recipe that originated in southern Italy. It's a simple recipe for a deliciously moist cake with so much flavor.
Torta di Noci is a sweet and slightly dense cake that's great with a cup of coffee or cup of tea. It's a great treat to make ahead and tastes even better the next day.
Here, you blend the walnuts to make a flour-like consistency that's perfect with the other ingredients. Plus, the fat from the walnuts means there no need to add additional oil or butter to the cake.
This traditional cake is great served around the holidays or whenever you are craving a simple and delicious cake. Plus, this recipe has been tested to guarantee perfect cake results every time.
If you love walnuts, then you have to try this Italian Walnut Cake. You'll be amazed with how delicious three ingredients can really be!
Ingredients and Variations
- Walnuts: use whole or halved walnuts to grind for this recipe. I recommend toasting them ahead of time, but this is optional.
- Sugar: regular granulated sugar is best for the cake batter.
- Eggs: you will need four large eggs, ideally at room temperature. There is no baking powder or baking soda needed in this Italian Walnut Cake as the egg whites act as the leavening agent.
- Zest (optional): to give the torta di noci extra flavor you can add in orange zest or lemon zest to the batter. You could even add a tablespoon of rum or espresso powder to the batter to give the cake a more intense flavor.
- Powdered sugar (optional): use a teaspoon of powdered sugar to dust the top of the cooled cake for a pretty finish.
How to Make Italian Walnut Cake
You only need three ingredients to make Italian Walnut Cake. Start by preheating your oven and lining a greased springform pan with a circle of parchment paper; set aside.
Step 1: grind walnuts
In a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add in the toasted or un-toasted walnuts (based on preference). Pulse the walnuts until they are finely ground. Be careful not to mix too much or you'll end up with walnut butter.
Step 2: mix egg whites
Then, in a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the egg whites and half of the sugar. Mix until the eggs are soft and frothy. The eggs will have slightly stiff peaks. (You can also use a stand mixer with paddle attachment for this).
Step 3: mix egg yolks
In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks and remaining sugar. Use the same mixer on medium speed to beat together the egg yolks and sugar, until the mixture is pale and frothy, and has doubled in size.
Then, pour the walnut mixture into the egg yolks use a wooden spoon to mix to combine. Fold the beaten egg whites mixture into the cake batter using a rubber spatula.
Step 4: Bake and Garnish Torta di Noci
Lastly, pour the walnut cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake on the center rack in the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the collar from the pan. Let the cake cool completely before slicing and serving.
Finish the top of the cake with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Italian Walnut Cake tastes better wrapped in plastic wrap and served the next day.
Tips for Making Torta di Noci
- Make this in a 9-inch springform pan for easy release. You can also use a 9x9 in baking pan for this recipe.
- Toasting the walnuts is optional but adds a depth of flavor to the recipe. To toast the walnuts, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Then, bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Cool completely before grinding in food processor.
- Orange and/or lemon zest are variations to the recipe and can be added or omitted based on preferences.
- This cake is better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld.
- Store your Italian Walnut Cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to a month.
Frequently Asked Questions
Torta di Noci, which translates to "walnut cake" in Italian, is a traditional Italian dessert characterized by its nutty and moist texture, created by incorporating ground walnuts with sugar and eggs. It's often flavored with a little bit of orange or lemon zest in the batter. With origins in southern Italy, this treat is often referred to as Calabrian walnut cake.
To toast walnuts, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, or until they become fragrant and slightly golden, being sure to check and stir them often to prevent burning.
Classic Italian Cake Recipes
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Italian Walnut Cake (Torta di Noci)
- 9 inch springform pan
- food processor with blade attachment
- 12 ounces walnuts (toasted is optional)
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest (optional)
- powdered sugar for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper; set aside.
- Pour the walnuts into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until the walnuts are finely diced and resemble a coarse crumb; set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the egg whites and half of the sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat the eggs until they are light, foamy, and have doubled in size; about two minutes on high. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the egg yolks and the remaining sugar. Use the same electric mixer to mix the eggs until they are pale in color and doubled in size; about 2 minutes. Add in the zest, if using. Pour in the crushed walnuts and use a spoon to mix together. Add in the egg whites and use a rubber spatula to mix altogether.
- Pour the Italian walnut cake batter into the prepared springform pan. Place on the center rack in the preheated oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the collar. Once cooled completely, dust with powdered sugar, slice, and serve.
- To toast the walnuts, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Cool completely before grinding in food processor.
- Adding the lemon or orange zest is completely optional and will add another level of flavor to the cake.
- Italian Walnut Cake is a cake that is great to make ahead and tastes even better the next day.
- Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze for up to a month.