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Ancient Roman Cake/Torta Antica Roma

This Ancient Roman Cake also known as Torta Antica Roma, has a buttery base spread with jam and topped with a whipped semi sweet ricotta filling, covered again with the same flaky buttery pastry, then baked until golden. Slice and serve dusted with powdered sugar. So good.

cake on a black stand with a slice on a black plate


 

I sent out a newsletter awhile back asking readers what Italian recipe they would like to see on the blog. One reader enquired about this Torta Antica Roma. Being close to Rome it really intrigued me. Believe me this was a difficult cake to find. I finally came across the website Profumo di Biscotti, it very much resembled the recipe the reader described. Although to tell the truth, to me it actually resembles more a crostata/pie rather than a cake.

How to make it

The dough for this cake can be made 3 ways, using your stand up mixer with the flat beaters, a food processor or even by hand.

Whisk together the flour, sugar baking powder and salt add the softened butter and mix to form coarse crumbs.

adding the butter to the dry mixture and mixing to form coarse crumbs

Add the egg and mix until almost combined. Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead gently to combine to form a compact dough ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

forming a dough and wrapping in plastic wrap

Divide the dough in half and roll to 1/8 inch thickness, place in the prepared pie pan, prick the bottom of the dough with a fork, spread with a layer of jam, thin or thicker as you prefer, refrigerate.

the dough in the pie plate and pricked and spread with jam

While the base in chilling, in a small bowl beat together the ricotta and powdered sugar until creamy. Remove the dough from the fridge, and spread the ricotta mixture on top of the jam. Refrigerate.

the ricotta mixture in a white bowl and spread on top of the jam

Roll the remaining dough into a circle a bit thicker than 1/8 inch, top the ricotta with the dough, seal the edges, brush with milk and bake.

the dough on top of the pie and baked

Let the cake cool then dust with powdered sugar before serving.

What is the best flour to use?

For this recipe I used pastry flour, which has a 8-9% protein count. The lower the protein the flakier and more tender the crust.

To make your own pastry flour for every cup of all purpose flour remove 2 tablespoons and substitute with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch be sure to sift the ingredients together to make sure there are no lumps.

What jam can I use

The original Ancient Roman Cake uses strawberry jam, if you are feeling ambitious than you can always make your own Homemade Jam. If not a good store bought will work also. Change it up and use a mixed fruit, cherry or even blueberry jam.

roman cake on a black stand

What is ricotta

Ricotta cheese is made from leftover whey from other cheeses, it can be from cow, goat, sheep or Italian Buffalo. Sometimes an acidifier is added. Ricotta meaning recooked is just that, the recooking of the whey. Since it is not produced from curd, but from whey, ricotta cannot be considered a real cheese. The term ricotta can also mean the fresh one.

Fresh ricotta is placed in the typical cone shaped perforated container, where it is left to drain. It is usually a white colour, of course how white depends on the type of milk that is used. It is soft and slightly grainy but is not elastic or hard. Fresh ricotta has the smell of warm milk and hay, although the aroma of hay will be more intense in ricotta that is made from sheep or buffalo milk.

Most if not all the regions of Italy make their own ricotta but the most popular comes from Lazio, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Sicilia, Sardegna, Campania, Puglia, Calabria, Toscana, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardia e Piemonte. I used cow ricotta for this recipe but if you prefer a stronger taste then a goat ricotta can also be used.

cake on a black stand and a slice on a black plate

What is Italian pastry dough

Italian pastry dough consists of flour, sugar, baking powder, butter (usually room temperature) and an egg and sometimes an egg yolk. The egg makes the dough even flakier than the classic shortcrust.

How to store it

The leftover cake should be wrapped well and refrigerated, it will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. It can also be frozen, wrap well in plastic wrap or foil and place in a freezer safe bag or container. It will keep for up to 3 months.

So if you are looking for an interesting Roman dessert I hope you give this Ancient Roman Cake a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

a slice of cake on a black plate
roman cake on a black cake stand

Ancient Roman Cake

Rosemary Molloy
This Ancient Roman Cake also known as Torta Antica Roma, has a buttery base spread with jam and topped with a whipped ricotta filling.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Chilling time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 244 kcal

Ingredients
  

FOR THE DOUGH

  • 2 cups pastry flour (260 grams)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt*
  • ¾ cup + 2 ¼ tablespoons butter (softened) (200 grams)
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)

*I use salted butter, but if you use unsalted then add ¼ teaspoon of salt.

    FILLING

    • ¼-½ cup strawberry jam (80-160 grams)
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese (250 grams)
    • tablespoons powdered/icing sugar

    EXTRAS

    • 1-2 tablespoons milk (for brushing the dough)
    • 2-3 tablespoons powdered/icing sugar (for dusting)

    Instructions
     

    • The dough for this cake can be made 3 ways, using your stand up mixer with the flat beaters, a food processor or even by hand.

    FOR THE DOUGH

    • Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt add the softened butter and mix, pulse or stir to form coarse crumbs.
    • Add the egg and mix, pulse or stir until almost combined. Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead gently to form a compact dough ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    • Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C). Lightly grease and flour an 8 inch pie plate.
    • Divide the dough in half* and roll one half into a circle 1/8 inch thick, place in the prepared pie pan, (don't worry if it breaks just press it together to fit in the pan with your fingers), prick the bottom of the dough with a fork, spread with a layer of jam, thin or thicker as you prefer, refrigerate.
    • While the base in chilling, in a small bowl beat together the ricotta and powdered sugar until creamy.
    • Remove the dough from the fridge, and spread the ricotta on top of the jam, refrigerate.
      Roll the remaining dough into a circle a bit thicker than 1/8 inch, place on top of the ricotta and seal the edges, brush with a milk. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until golden.
    • Let the cake cool completely then dust with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy!

    *The remaining half refrigerate until ready to use.

      Notes

      If you have left over dough it can either be frozen for later use or make twists or cookies and bake until golden.
      To make your own Pastry flour, for every cup of all purpose remove 2 tablespoons and substitute with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, sift together to remove any lumps.

      Nutrition

      Calories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 35mg | Potassium: 200mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 140IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 1mg
      Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

      29 Comments

      1. 5 stars
        Hi dear Rosemary, I made this crostata with cream cheese and as you said, I added some water to the cheese and it turned out to be very, very delicious and perfect. Thanks for your guidance. Also how many eggs for 1/5 of this recipe. Many thanks.

        1. Hi Nooshin, glad you enjoyed the recipe and it worked out for you. To tell the truth I would never 1/5 this recipe. You could make the pastry dough and use what amount you need then freeze the remaining dough. Maybe divide the ingredient amount by 4 if that’s what you plan on doing. Hope that helps. Take care!

      2. Hi dear Rosemary ,
        Hope you are doing fine . I want to make this cake . Can I use cream cheese instead of ricotta ? Please let me know. Many thanks .

        1. Hi Nooshin, I am good thanks, I hope you are too. I think you could, I have never tried it with cream cheese, the taste will be different because cream cheese is richer and has a bit of a sour taste, but it should probably work, you might want to add a tablespoon or so of water to it since it is thicker than ricotta, it might also be a good idea to beat it a bit before using. Let me know how it goes. Take care!

      3. 5 stars
        Hello Rosemary,
        This has become a go-to cake in our family… my 12-year old daughter just requested it for her birthday. I was wondering if it is possible to add more ricotta as mine never looks as voluminous as yours? It still tastes incredible and the proportions are nice but I just can’t make 250g seem sufficient. Thanks again for this great recipe.
        Ryan

        1. Hi Ryan, thanks so much, so glad you all enjoy it, especially your daughter wanting it for her birthday. Yes you can add more ricotta. You could probably double it but it might be too much and overpowering I would go with 1 1/2 cups and maybe add an extra tablespoon of sugar. Let me know how it goes. And Happy Birthday to your daughter. Take care.

      4. 5 stars
        Made this Roman cake with Raspberry jam n it came out delicious. Easy to make and was s big hit with the family. Taste more like a crostata. This was a winner thank you 💗. Only problem I have is getting it out of pie plate and greased n floured it. I see you used a pan with removable bottom. I’ll try that or the parchment paper. Thanks again Rosemary

        1. Hi Carol, thanks so glad you and your family enjoyed it. Yes parchment paper works well too, although I really like springform pans. Have a great Sunday.

      5. Not sure how this is an ancient Roman recipe. Sugar was not used during this times, they sweetened with grape must or honey.

        1. Do you know any background info on this dessert? Im doing a food project for school and I can’t find anything on it.

          1. Hi Ava, there isn’t much on it because it isn’t an ancient Roman cake, it was just called that by an Italian pastry chef. 🙂

      6. 5 stars
        Hello Rosemary, As usual, another fabulous recipe. I had a few containers of impastata ricotta leftover from making manicotti for Easter, so I decided to put one of them to good use in this torta. Easy to prepare and really delicious. My husband couldn’t wait for it to cool, so he cut himself a big slice about 5 minutes after it came out of the oven — when I wasn’t in the room, of course, to yell it him for not waiting for it to cool. My tart pan (similar to the one you used is too large, so I used an 8 in. spring form which worked fine but isn’t nearly as pretty as yours with the fluted edges. I used strawberry preserves this time and next time will try blueberry or cherry. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

      7. 5 stars
        Hi Rosemary, just made this and it worked beautifully. Topping the pie was a bit tricky, I managed it. Made it with leftover blueberry strawberry coulis thinned up. Fantastic. Thanks for a lovely recipe.

        1. Hi Dee, thanks so much, sounds delicious. Yes topping it can be a bit tricky, but it can be patched up easy enough.Take care and have a great week.

        1. Hi Anna, they are two totally different cheeses, ricotta is made from milk and is lighter and mascarpone is made from cream. Personally I wouldn’t substitute. 🙂

      8. I cannot rate this cake, since I haven’t yet made it. I’m happy that you posted this recipe, Rosemary, since my mom was born & raised in Rome, so when I saw this recipe I decided that I’d make it for mom’s upcoming birthday. I’ll use “Smucker’s Strawberry Preserves”, which contain more strawberries than does jam. I’m sure that my mom will be super surprised with this cake. I have no doubt that it’s deliciozo!

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