Pine Kernel Cake

The name of this pudding-cake comes from the Italian word for pine kernel, pinolo (pignolo in Tuscany). Pignolata can be rather dry, so it is often accompanied by a glass of Vin Santo or ‘holy wine’ (so called because it was used by connoisseur priests to celebrate mass). Others say, however, that it originally came from the Greek island Xantos.

Serves 8-10

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  • 55g (2 oz) pine kernels
  • 175g (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g (5 1/2 oz) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) Vin Santo
  • 375g (13 oz) Italian soft wheat 00 flour or plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder or 1 packet Lievito Bertolini Vanigliato (the Italian equivalent)


  1. Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7, and use 25g (1 oz) of the butter to grease a round or square 25cm (10 inch) baking dish.
  2. Beat the remaining butter with the sugar until light. Beat the eggs and yolks with the lemon zest and Vin Santo until light and foamy, then add to the butter and sugar mixture. Very gently fold in the flour, sifted with the baking powder, using a metal spoon. When everything is very well blended, put into the greased baking dish, and scatter the pine kernels on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, then leave to cool. Turn out of the dish when cold.