Pinza – Venetian Cornmeal Cake

A classic Italian cake recipe in a modern version
found on
Pinza - Venetian Cornmeal Cake

Venetian Cornmeal Cake is a very old recipe, modernized here by Mary Ann Esposito. The dense cornmeal cake is full of dried fruit and nuts. The cake is rustic in appearance and refined on the palate.

Author: Mary Ann Esposito
Recipe type: Baked Goods
Cuisine: Italian
Makes: 1 cake

1/2 Cup raisins
2 Tablespoons grappa (or 1/2 Cup warm water)
2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Cups cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter; softened
1/2 Cup diced candied lemon or orange peel
1 yellow Delicious apple; peeled and diced
1 Bartlett pear; peeled and diced
10 whole dried Calamyrna or Calabrian figs;
stemmed and diced
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts


[1] Butter the baking pan and dust it with flour, shaking out the excess, or line the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil, allowing the foil to come up the sides of the pan. Butter and dust the foil with flour. Set it aside.

[2] Pour the water or grappa over the raisins in a small bowl and let them soak for 15 minutes.

[3] Preheat the oven to 350 F.

[4] Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder in a heavy-duty 4-quart saucepan. Slowly stir in the water. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. The mixture will be very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and butter, making sure that the butter melts completely.

[5] Strain the raisins, discarding the water, and stir them into the batter. If using the grappa, add it with the raisins. Stir in the lemon or orange peel, apple, pear, figs, and walnuts.

[6] Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing out the top.

[7] Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be golden brown. Cool the cake completely. If using the foil-lined method, simply lift the foil with the cake out of the pan and, when cool, remove the foil. This will allow for neatly cut slices with no waste at the edges.

[8] To serve, cut into squares.

Tip: For parties, I chill the baked cake, then use small cookie cutters to cut out decorative shapes, which I place in small cupcake papers. They make the perfect dessert finger food for a crowd.

This recipe yields one 9 1/2- by 13- by 2-inch cake.