There are so many traditional recipes in Italy as every region has their own version of a particular recipe or their own special recipe only in that region.. Abruzzo is no exception. I have been asked many times for the recipe to this delicious Olive oil cake.

There are many versions where you can add fresh ricotta or almonds. Sometimes I can even add yoghurt if I have some in the fridge… or lime zest instead of lemon.. Once you know the basic method you can modernise the recipe! Good luck and start baking..

Olive oil and ricotta cake - Abruzzese style
Olive oil and ricotta cake – Abruzzese style


TARALLO ABRUZZESE – Lemon and Olive Oil Cake

4 eggs

250 gr sugar 

200 gr s.r flour and some extra baking powder 1 tspn

180 gr fresh ricotta

½ cup water (or milk)

½ cup of oil 

Lemon zest of 1 lemon or orange zest


Separate eggs, beat egg whites until stiff – for about 2 mins or so.

Add sugar, continue beating.

Add the 4 egg yolks, continue beating. Up to this point, should be beaten for about 8 mins in total to allow air to get in.

Add the lemon zest and some vanilla essence, add the ricotta and beat until smooth.

Add the sifted S.R flour, baking powder, the water and the oil and fold through. If it is too runny add a spoon of flour at a time. If it is too thick, add a spoon of milk or water at a time. Mixture should be thick ribbons runny when you lift it off the whisk or spoon.

Grease a ring cake tin and flour it.

Cook for 1 hr in 170 deg C oven.

Olive oil cake with Ricotta - Abruzzese style
Olive oil cake with Ricotta


Related Tag: Abruzzo Italy


This is a traditional cake made in Abruzzo, especially around Pescara.

The typical shape is a dome shaped cake. You can buy the moulds in any market in Abruzzo or kitchen shop in Abruzzo.
It is made using semolina instead of flour and along with the ground almonds it makes it a cake with a lot of texture…and great taste! 

The semolina used here is the fine ground white wheat. You can substitute it with fine white polenta for gluten free cooking.

Have a go and make it and relive your Italian heritage or your Italy travels. It is always a sensation when we make it and serve it. We made it in one of our recent Italian cooking classes this year.

If you do not have the right round dome mould then you can use any shape really.


Best Italy tours foodfullsizeoutput_92b1italian food tours


6 eggs
250 gr (9oz) sugar
150 gr (5 oz) almond meal, or ground almonds with skins on better Zest of 1 lemon
150 gr (5oz) semolina
2 tspns baking powder 

Chocolate Ganache Topping – melted dark choc and butter or olive oil 

* Pre heat oven to 180 deg C/350 F
* Beat egg whites separately with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form, add egg yolks, one at a time.
* Add the rest of the ingredients starting with sugar and beat until sugar dissolved
* Then gently fold in almonds, baking powder, semolina and lemon zest. Keep mixture aerated as there is no flour in this recipe.
* Cook in slow oven, 160 deg C/ 320 deg F for 45 -50 mins approx. Traditionally this is baked in a dome shaped baking tin, if not a round cake tin will be fine. Or can divide into small round tins, cooking time will be much less, ie 15 mins..
* When cake has cooled down – melt 200 gr dark chocolate and approximately 1-2 tablespoons of butter and cover top of the cooled cake. (90z)


 Related Tags:  Italy Travel Packages

Read our latest issue of our e-Newsletter for Italy Travel with Touring Abruzzo.
See what is new in 2018!

TOUR ITALY with Touring Abruzzo.  
Lots of reasons & regions to discover this summer.
We are so proud to celebrate 14 years of travel to ABRUZZO, Italy – sharing the best the region has to offer with other like minded guests. Whether it is to explore something new in Italy or to rediscover your Italian heritage, Abruzzo offers so much. Luciana and her team of local specialists provide the best Italy experience…ever. An Italy vacation to remember.

Whether you want to walk in any of the three national parks…treasure hunt for truffles…reconnect with your ancestral village or simply observe typical village life, then look no further than beautiful Abruzzo… 


Departures for Abruzzo this summer:
  •  June 3-6; June 17-20: Tastes of Abruzzo (4 days)
  • June 3-12: Grand Tour of Abruzzo (10 days) ** this is the most popular of all our Abruzzo tour programmes.
  • June 17-24: Back Roads of Abruzzo (8 days)                                
Departures this autumn/fall:
  • September 17-20: Tastes of Abruzzo (4 days)
  • September 17-26: Grand Tour of Abruzzo (10 days)

Prices from USD $1800 pp, all inclusive & small group travel

PRIVATE DAY TOURS IN ABRUZZO are available year round (from USD $200 pp)

MARCHE region is the exciting new region to be added to Touring Abruzzo’s tour programmes in 2018. Launching this month the inaugural departure is for May 23.
Located just above Abruzzo, it is also a wonderful central Italian region often little known to those travelling to Italy. Luciana and colleague Guido have personally created a wonderful 6 day programme including:
  • marvellous landscapes
  • visits to medieval centres for paper making in Fabriano
  • visits to piano accordion makers, wine and olive oil producers of Marche region
  • visits to the birthplaces and homes of composer Rossini in Pesaro and Renaissance master Raphael or Raffello Sanzio of Urbino.
  • fabulous local cuisine of the Marche …

2018 Dates: May 23 -28; June 21-26; September 21-26.

Prices from USD $3300 pp – small group travel

PERFECT PUGLIA: June, September & October departures.
Many options to choose from – 4, 8 or 10 days in Puglia.
Travel with Fabio your Puglia tour specialist.PRIVATE DAY TOURS available also – LEARN MORE HERE
PRICES from USD $2200 pp, small group travelEXCITING TRAVEL TO ITALY’S SOUTH


BACK ROADS OF BASILICATA:  September 1 & October 17 departures.
8 days of exploring the deep south of Italy.

Travel with Fabio your Basilicata tour specialist. PRICES from USD $2200 pp, small group travelEXPLORE MORE OF ITALY ON YOUR NEXT VACATION
FEATURE RECIPE: TARTUFINI  (Little Chocolate Truffles)
I am putting this recipe in as it is back by popular demand. I know a few of you have made it and they taste great!
Happy Cooking and many happy memories of Italy too!


250gr (8 oz) whole almonds with skin on – ground
200gr (7 oz) sugar
1/2 coffee cup (1.5-2.0 fluid oz) of liqueur eg Tia Maria
1 tbspn dark cocoa
400gr (14 oz)sponge cake or plain soft cake, crumbled
Espresso coffee as needed


In a bowl, crumble the sponge cake into fine crumbs, add the ground almonds,
sugar and cocoa.
Add the liqueur slowly, then add the espresso coffee – enough to make a firm
dough and not too wet.
Need to roll into round walnut sized shapes to resemble truffles.
Roll in powdered sifted cocoa or in choc shavings or choc hail.
When cooled in fridge and ready to serve, place in small patty cases.

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Eggplants are  wonderful vegetables and are used a lot in Italian and also in Asian cooking. Also known as aubergine, they belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes.
I grow them in my garden in the Australian summer and with the subtropical climate in Brisbane it is a great plant and you have abundant crops with only one plant.
HEALTH BENEFITS: Eggplants have a lot of fibre, potassiumvitamin C and vitamin B-6 as well as are high in antioxidants.
Here is a great Sicilian recipe below which I was given when I visited the fabulous Aeolian Islands. Give it a try it is simple and tastes fabulous. I love the balance of the sweet and the acidity and the freshness of the mint. We made this recipe in one of my Italian cooking classes earlier this year.


MELANZANE IN AGRODOLCE:   Sweet and Sour Eggplants with Mint
This is a lovely recipe to make in summer when eggplants and mint are in abundance.
Once made keep this dish at room temperature to serve.
2 eggplants
1/2 onion
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • Wash the eggplant and dice in walnut size cubes.
  • Place in a dish and salt them generously and leave for 30 mins. This helps remove any bitterness from the eggplant (usually more so if eggplants are large or older).
  • In a non stick frypan, add the oil and the chopped onion – sautée and do not burn the onion, just sweat it down.
  • Drain the salted eggplant and pat dry with clean tea towel or absorbent towel.
  • Add the eggplant and stir until eggplant cooked and browned.
  • In a cup add the vinegar and the sugar, stir to dissolve sugar. Pour this over the eggplant in the frypan.
  • Stir gently until the vinegar evaporates. When done, add half the mint leaves(tear them) and mix through gently.
  • Place on a dish and put the extra mint leaves on top.

VARIATIONS: You can also do this with zucchini. Slice in round slices and salt as above.

                                                                                      Buon Appetito!

Fun cooking Italian together at Moreton Bay College, Manly- Brisbane, Australia


Another great group of wonderful cooks came together over the weekend to cook up a storm. Italian cooking is fun when cooking together especially when making pasta from scratch and making many other traditional dishes.
We made dishes like veal involtini filled with a parsley frittata – a recipe shown to me by by Abruzzese family. Once you fill the veal with the frittata it is rolled up and secured with a toothpick, the meat is browned then it is placed into the tomato sauce for the pasta and gently simmers there for a while. Of course the great flavours soak into the veal rolls. So you have a primo dish of pasta, then the secondo or meat dish is ready also!
Pasta alla Norma – a great dish from Sicily.
The pasta sauce we made was an eggplant, tomato and basil with ricotta – a great traditional Sicilian dish from the town of Catania. They call it Pasta alla Norma – as legend says that the composer Vincenzo Bellini ordered this dish often and so it was named after his great opera ‘Norma’. 
Brutti ma Buoni – hazelnut meringues
Here is a biscuit I love to make – these are delicious Hazelnut Meringues, known as Brutti ma Buoni (‘Ugly but Good’!).
They do not look ugly to me, but taste sublime. They originate from the north of Italy from the 1800’s, some say from Lombardia region and others say from the Piemonte region as there are many hazelnuts found there.
Why not try them yourselves? Quite simple to make using basically 3 ingredients! 
BRUTTI MA BUONI – Makes about 20 biscuits
75 gr (2.65 oz) egg whites (about 3 eggs)
150 gr (5.0 oz) roasted ground coarsely hazelnuts
140 gr (about 5oz) (or less) caster sugar
vanilla bean scraped or paste

* Preheat oven 150 deg.
* In a bowl, whisk the egg whites with about half the sugar to form stiff meringue, add the vanilla.
* Blend the other half of the sugar with the whole hazelnuts.
* Place the meringue mixture and add the hazelnuts into a saucepan and stir until the mixture starts to thicken (about 10 mins or so). You will need to stir as it will stick. 
* Remove from heat and cool. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto tray lined with baking paper.
* Bake for at least 15-20 mins until golden brown.
VARIATION – add 2 tbsp dark cocoa to the meringue mix to make chocolate hazelnut biscuits, a great combination.


These wonderful traditional olive oil waffles from Abruzzo are just great and easy to make. You need few ingredients but you also need a waffle maker from Abruzzo.. They can be electric or the traditional stove top manual variety.
I get asked many times to share the recipe, so here it is again. Of course depending on which part of Abruzzo you are from, the recipe alters slightly.
The main thing I learned from my mother Rosa, is that it is all about ratios – so easy to remember. So for every egg you add one tablespoon (or 2)  of sugar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and one heaped tablespoon of plain flour. They can be flavoured with lemon zest, some limoncello or with aniseed. But they are ALWAYS made with olive oil and never butter!
For every 1 egg : add
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Plain Flour  – as needed
  • lemon rind
  • some vanilla essence
  • or aniseed (instead of lemon zest)

Beat the egg with extravirgin olive oil and sugar. Add the flour untill you obtain a  soft mixture. Then add some aniseed or lemon zest.
A spoonful is placed on the hot waffle iron, after oiling and heating on a gas stove. Close the waffle iron and press. When the mixture turns golden brown it is cooked and can be removed from the iron.
( ..The time to say a Hail Mary on one side, should be ready to turn over! This is about 30 – 40 seconds)
Alternative: Electric waffle irons are a much easier option.

When all neole are cooked,  sandwich with the gorgeous homemade grape jam (Traditional) or other jam of your choice.
Serve – sprinkled with icing sugar.


My father Sabatino very proud of his mother’s pizzelle maker.
This is such a simple batter to make and it is great for many vegetables.. think of it as an Italian tempura batter.
I like to use it with sage leaves – sometimes they are in abundance and a great aperitivo snack to go with your crisp white Italian summer wine.
Other vegetables work equally well – such as zucchini flowers, eggplant slices (not too thick), zucchini and red capsicums (peppers) strips or julienne. In season I have also tried using elderflower blossoms and also acacia (robinia robusta) flowers. They are great!
Have a go and impress your friends!BATTER for coating vegetables:
This is the most popular version used in Abruzzo:
150 gr (5 oz)  plain flour
150 ml (5 oz) water (plain or soda water)
1 egg
Good pinch of salt

In a bowl:
Mix together with a fork in a bowl, until it turns into soft batter and is free of lumps.
Dip the desired vegetable or edible flowers.
If using eggplant best to steam them a little to soften. Drain and dry on a cloth before dipping into the batter and frying.

Crocus sativus – saffron growing in Abruzzo


PictureAbruzzese saffron infused in water

Next time you order risotto alla milanese in Italy, the saffron or “zafferano” you are eating is most likely from the region of Abruzzo, in central Italy. The plains of Navelli in the l’Aquila province are home to this delicate spice.
Saffron is obtained from the stigmas of the violet-coloured crocus sativus flower and grow to around 12-15 cm tall. It has been cultivated in Navelli since the 14th Century, when a local Dominican monk brought back a number of these plants from Spain to experiment with their cultivation on his family’s estate. The terrain in Navelli- at 800 meters above sea level,a dry climate and fertile fields not too high in clay content- make it an ideal habitat for saffron cultivation.
Saffron was used to dye fabrics and hair and its additional curative powers have long been known to help digestion, rheumatism and colds.
The area of cultivation in Abruzzo is strictly limited to 8 hectares of land. A sad reduction from the 430 hectares cultivated at the turn of the last century.
Harvesting this precious spice occurs in autumn towards the end of October and into early November where the stigmas are harvested by hand before sunrise, that is, before the flowers open up, so all of their aromas are still sealed within. 200 flowers are needed to obtain one gram of fresh stigmas! The flowers are opened one by one and the stigmas are removed by hand and then slowly desiccated on the warm ash of the domestic fireplaces on the very same day. The saffron is mainly exported to northern Italy and northern European markets.

The Cooperative “Altopiano di Navelli” (Navelli Highland) was formed in 1971 and represents 40 farmers who cultivate saffron over the 8 hectares.
You too can experience the pleasure of visiting this beautiful and unspoilt region of Abruzzo – savour the regional dishes with local ingredients such as “spaghetti alla chitarra with saffron and truffle” and take part in the time honoured traditions and festivities. When you travel to Abruzzo  with Luciana you will definitely experience the pleasure of indulging in many traditional dishes with saffron! See Luciana’s tour programme in 2015 
LATEST NEWS: In Australia, saffron is being grown successfully in Tasmania by a committed couple in the Huon Valley.
Read here the latest documentary on their commitment to producing the highest quality saffron in the southern hemisphere.

Here is a simple recipe to use your saffron. This is fabulous to use as an ANTIPASTO and a palate cleanser between the starter and main meal. I eat it on fresh crusty bread. Alternatively it is a great dessert also!

150 gr fresh ricotta (cow’s milk or sheep’s milk ricotta), drained overnight
1 tbspn honey
6 -8 saffron threads, infused in 1 tbspn warm water

* Drain the ricotta in a sieve, overnight to remain more of the whey liquid. You can use the liquid and add to your other baking – pikelets, cakes etc.
* You can place the drained ricotta in a mould so that when you turn it out onto a plate it is nice and neat (better than what I did in the above photo!)
* Turn out the ricotta mould onto a serving plate, drizzle the honey over the ricotta.
* Finally, gently place the infused saffron and liquid if not too watery.

Buon appetito!

Saffron with Ricotta and Honey