🇮🇹 Italy: Sbrisolona Mantovana

A symbol of Mantuan pastry, sbrisolona (from the Mantuan word ‘brisa,’ meaning crumb) owes its name to the large and small crumbs that form when it is broken to be consumed. The cake was born in the Lombardy region in Northern Italy and is of peasant origins, as evidenced by the use of corn flour, a fundamental ingredient of the recipe introduced between the 1500s and 1600s. It was prepared for special occasions, such as the birth of a child or a promise of marriage, and then kept for a long time. Sbrisolona, as we know it today, was ennobled by the Gonzaga court, who enriched it by introducing sugar, spices and almonds. It is perfect at breakfast, as a snack, or to end a meal with a wonderful espresso.

“Sbrisolona reminds me of my youth and my grandmother. The scent of it coming out of the oven brings back fond memories of happy holidays with my family. You should all try it and it is not difficult to make.”

-Mariangela Zappia, Ambassador of Italy
For the full experience, play this traditional tune while prepping the recipe!

🇮🇹 Italy: Sbrisolona Mantovana—Italian Almond Crumble Cake

Servings 10
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups finely ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 5/8 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ¼ cups toasted almonds roughly chopped (reserve about 10 whole almonds for decoration)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon


  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • Grease a baking pan with butter and set aside.
  • Mix the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, and chopped almonds in a bowl and set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix the softened butter and 5/8 cup of sugar. Once blended, add the egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  • Lastly, add the flour mixture and knead until it clumps together.
  • Transfer it to the buttered pan and spread it out evenly, about one inch thick. Place the reserved whole almonds on top for decoration and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown. Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan in chunks, breaking it with your hands.

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