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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Ancient Roman Cake
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.
- ¼-½ cup strawberry jam (80-160 grams)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (250 grams)
- 2½ tablespoons powdered/icing sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk (for brushing the dough)
- 2-3 tablespoons powdered/icing sugar (for dusting)
- 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!