Thursday, February 11, 2016

Torta Sabbiosa (Italian Sandy Cake)

Being a non-Italian baker, I'm thankful that I can learn many interesting and authentic Italian cakes and desserts recipes from a newly released book, Dolce by Laura Zavan.

What is Torta Sabbiosa? Sabbiosa in Italian means sandy and so when I translate "Torta Sabbiosa" from Italian to English using Google translate, it says that it is a sandy cake.

Sandy cake? Still confused? This is what this book says... "This vanilla-flavoured cake, very popular in Veneto, is said to have been invented in Pavia (Lombardy) at the end of the 19th century. The texture, made using potato starch and icing sugar is reminiscent of fine sand (sabbia in Italian). Beyond Veneto, it is more commonly known as torta paradiso. It is a quite substantial cake, more an afternoon snack than a dessert."

And this is how I have learnt to bake this cake...

torta sabbiosa paradiso Italian sandy cake
Torta Sabbiosa / Torta Paradiso / Italian Sandy Cake
This is how the cake looks in the book.
Happy that mine looks quite like this too...
I always thought potato starch is an Asian ingredient!!!
And surprise to learn that this traditional Italian cake requires the addition of potato starch to create an interesting sandy cake texture!!!

To bake a torta sabbiosa...

First, the book says that I have to let the butter (75g) soften at room temperature for at least 3 hours before mixing the cake batter! And this is very important!!!

Second, grease and flour one 14 cm loose-bottom (or springform) round cake pan. You can use either extra softened butter or cooking oil spray to grease the cake pan.

Here, I'm baking a small cake to share with a friend and if you like to bake a larger cake to serve at least 8 persons, you may wish to use triple (3x) the ingredients that I have mentioned and bake one large 22-24 cm round cake.

Now, is your butter softened enough for mixing?
If yes, it's time to gather these ingredients... 
75g icing sugar
seeds scraped from 1/4 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 egg, lightly whisked at room temperature
30g all purpose (plain) flour 
30g potato starch or potato flour 
a pinch of salt

Then I did these.
Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C (325°F) for 30 mins (14 cm cake) or 40 mins (if you use triple amount to bake one 22-24 cm cake) or until golden.

After baking, cool the cake in the tin for 1 hour, then remove it from the pan. Serve the cake with its bottom side up. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Just like this...

So easy and lovely!

I was expecting this cake to be pastry-like or crusty or biscuit-y or crumbly or maybe even a fusion of these texture but it isn't!!! It is actually moist, buttery and tender! And definitely yes that I can taste that the cake is sandy... It's not the coarse crumbly pastry kind of sandy taste but rather the fine and moist kind and it comes to me later as an aftertaste. What an interesting cake to bake and enjoy!

Do you want to see the other interesting Italian cakes that this book can offer?

Chocolate Amaretti Cake
An Italian chocolate made with amaretti (Italian macarons)
More amaretti?
Look at this Apple and Amaretti Cake.
Cassata Siciliana (Sicilian Cream Cake)
A well known Sicilian cake.
Decadent Pandoro Cake!
A pretty and Christmasy cake that is on the cover of the book!

Besides the Italian cakes, I love to try making these popular and authentic Italian sweets too...

Cannoli Siciliani (Chocolate and Pistachio Cannoli)
Crostoli Veneziani (Venetian Fried Pastries)

Imagine... there are 80 recipes in this book that can make these delectable Italian sweets, cakes and desserts. I would say that it is THE book to own if you adore making and baking Italian desserts and cakes at home...

Dolce by Laura Zavan

Released in January 2016, this book is available now in most retail or online book shops selling at the retail price of AUD$49.99.

As this post is specially written to review this book, I'm sorry that I have agreed to the publisher that I can't publish the recipes in this book in this post. However, if you really wish to make this Italian sandy cake, please read my post in details, you will see that you can actually do it without a written recipe as I have fully illustrated the process very thoroughly to you. *Hint*

Before ending this post, I like to thank Murdoch Books for giving me this opportunity to do this review. I like to make a disclaimer here that I'm not paid to do this and like to share my most honest opinions with everyone who read this review.

Happy Baking
Hope that you will like the information that I have shared in my blog post.
Please support me and like me at Facebook...

Due to the use of a selected cookbook, this post is linked at Cookbook Countdown #2 organised by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Emily from Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray


  1. hi,,
    happy new year,,
    may i know how much butter needed
    for this small cake,not stated,,,

    1. Hi Sansan,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes that I have mentioned in the post that the small cake needs 75g butter :) As this post is specially written to review this book, I'm sorry that this recipe is written in this format. Hope that you can piece everything together easily :)


  2. Hi Zoe,
    Who says you're not an Italian Baker, lol...You did a magnificent job on that gorgeous delectable cake. Now I even know why it's called Sandy Cake! Looks like a nice book too...oh to be a baker:)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Zoe...

  3. Zoe, I really love this cake is divine!!

  4. It was good to know about this sandy cake....such great varieties of cake exist...isn't it? The cake looks superb and a perfect book review

  5. Hi Zoe, Gong Xi Fa Cai!
    This sandy cake looks interesting. I can roughly imagine how this cake would taste and texture wise. Great write up! Will rem this recipe book the next time I am at book store! :)

  6. Interesting part about the three hour room temperature for the butter. I have used icing sugar in place of caster before too. You got very good results with this cake, it is picture perfect!

  7. Hi Zoe,
    You are making me wish for a slice of your cake! Lovely with a cup of tea! This book sounds really good! Will look out for this book on my next trip to the bookstore!

  8. Moist? Buttery? Tender? Perfect!