Donizetti Cake

Since Bergamo is very proud to be the birthplace of legendary composer Gaetano Donizetti, it was only natural that the city would honour him with a sweet homage. The aptly-named Donizetti cake is made from potato starch, butter, sugar, eggs and a variety of dried fruits. It reminds me of a cake that my nonna used to make for us and holds a special place in my heart. My favourite part was dusting this ring-shaped cake with the powdered sugar; it really is a showstopper!

photo by Daniele Tomelleri


1 cup unsalted butter / tazza di burro non salato

½ cup granulated sugar / tazza di zucchero granulato

6 egg yolks / tuorli

2 tbsp vanilla / cucchiai di vaniglia

2 tbsp dark rum or rum flavouring / cucchiai di rum scuro o aroma al rum

1 tbsp fresh orange zest / cucchiaio di scorza d’arancia fresca

3 egg whites / albumi

ï 1 cup all-purpose flour / tazza di farina multiuso

ï ½ cup potato starch / tazza di fecola di patate

¼ tsp salt / cucchiaino di sale

1 tbsp baking powder / cucchiaio di lievito in polvere

½ cup candied apricots, diced (or any dried fruits you like) / tazza di albicocche candite a cubetti (o altra frutta secca a piacimento)

2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar / cucchiai di zucchero a velo

photo by Daniele Tomelleri


Preheat your oven to 325 °F. In a large bowl, add ¼ cup granulated sugar and the butter. Using a hand mixer, whip together until creamy. Then slowly add in the egg yolks one at a time, then the vanilla, rum and orange zest. Mix until combined. In a separate bowl, whip together the egg whites and ¼ cup sugar into peaks. Then gently add in the egg whites to the butter and sugar mixture. In another bowl, mix together the flour, potato starch, salt and baking powder. Then slowly add this dry mixture into the wet mixture. Lastly fold in the candied fruit of your choice. Grease a 10-inch bundt cake pan and pour in the batter. Place in the oven and cook until you can insert a cake pick in the centre and it comes out dry (about 45-50 minutes). Then remove from the oven and cool.

Dust the cake liberally with confectioners’ sugar and serve.