Home Desserts 15 Traditional Italian Cakes

15 Traditional Italian Cakes

Many non-Italian people are familiar with Italian desserts like tiramisu and cannoli.

Unfortunately, not many people know about the deliciousness of Italian cakes

Homemade Italian Sponge Cake with Blueberries
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If you ever visit Italy, you’ll notice a wide variety of tasty Italian cakes in their bakeries.

Italian cream cakes, lemon ricotta cakes, and Italian rainbow cakes are just three of the many options.

Cakes from Italy are just as diverse and varied as cakes in bakeries anywhere else in the world.

Some are overly sweet and indulgent, while others are lighter and zestier. 

There are Italian sponge cakes, Italian pound cakes, and Italian apple cakes, too. 

So the next time you’re looking for a new and exciting dessert of any particular flavor, check out this list and see what you can find.

1. Easy Ciambella Recipe (Italian Breakfast Cake)

Ciambella cake is similar to an American bundt cake; it features a comparable shape and uses similarly simple ingredients. 

In fact, you can whip it up with no more than seven everyday kitchen staples: eggs, sugar, olive oil, flour, baking powder, salt, and an orange. 

It has a sweet but mild flavor and a crumbly consistency that makes it perfect for pairing with tea or coffee.

Whether you serve it for breakfast or dessert, everyone will love it. 

2. Homemade Italian Cream Cake

This pillowy soft, ultra-moist cake features the sweet flavors of coconut and vanilla and includes a cup of chopped pecans for added texture and nuttiness. 

The frosting is a thick, cream cheese, vanilla, and coconut frosting, which you’ll also top with chopped pecans.

The cake looks somewhat plain and simple, but it’s much richer than you’d think. 

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3. Italian Style Lemon Ricotta Cake

Ricotta cheese is such a strange, versatile food, and no one can use it as expertly as Italian chefs. 

They move it flawlessly back and forth between sweet and savory foods, adding it to things like lasagna and cakes in equal measure. 

This buttery, slightly zesty cake features it, along with flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence, lemon zest, and powdered sugar. 

It’s moist, crumbly, and melt-in-your-mouth good. 

4. Cassata Ricotta (Sponge Cake with Ricotta)

Here’s another delicious cake featuring ricotta cheese. This one is light and spongy, and it’s covered on all sides with thick and creamy ricotta icing. 

It has plenty of wonderful fruity flavors, thanks to the candied citrus peels, orange juice, and orange zest, and you’ll add just a bit of triple sec to it, as well. 

It’s remarkably easy to make and doesn’t require any cooking as long as you start with a pre-made sponge cake.

You should have it ready in 20 minutes or less. 

5. Italian Lemon Olive Oil Cake

This cake looks delicate and elegant, but it’s packed with vibrant lemon flavor. It takes less than an hour to make and is lightly sweet (beneath all the lemon zestiness). 

Top it with powdered sugar and your favorite fresh berries for a gorgeous (and tasty) final touch.

6. Italian Chocolate Walnut Cake (Torta di Noci)

You’ve probably already noticed that many Italian cakes come sans frosting. That’s not true of all of them, of course, but it’s true of many. 

But a really good cake should be about more than just the topping. It should have plenty of delectable flavor in every bite, and the best ones do. 

This Italian chocolate walnut cake is the same way; it features the warm, rich flavors of chocolate and espresso, along with the crunchy saltiness of toasted walnuts.

It’s a simple, single-layer, 40-minute cake, but it’s terrific. 

7. Cannoli Pound Cake

You’ve probably heard of cannoli, but cannoli pound cake might not be something you’re familiar with.

It has the same sweet, tangy, and chocolate-filled taste as authentic cannoli. 

However, the texture is entirely different. It’s soft and spongy like any other pound cake you’ve ever tried.

The cinnamon and nutmeg give it a little extra warmth and spice, as well. 

8. Zuccotto

Even if you’ve never heard the word ‘zuccotto’ before, I’ll bet you’ve seen one of these famous dome-shaped cakes in a movie or television show. If so, that’s zuccotto! 

It takes a little bit of work, strategic cutting and layering, and some time and skill to get it right, but in truth, it’s not complicated. It’s actually quite simple. 

Think of it like assembling a piece of furniture from IKEA. It isn’t hard to do, but you have to follow the instructions carefully and dedicate a bit of time to it. 

The same is true of zuccotto, but its gorgeous, unique appearance and unbelievably yummy taste make it all worth it in the end.

9. Classic Italian Rainbow Cake

Classic Italian rainbow cake is a super-sized cake that’s multicolored on the inside and covered in chocolate ganache and sprinkles on the outside. 

Much like Neapolitan ice cream, it features a plethora of different flavors throughout, including chocolate, raspberry, lemon, almond, and vanilla. 

However, despite its intricate, oversized design, it’s not that hard to make. You can have it ready from scratch in about an hour. 

10. Italian Panettone

Panettone is another tall cake famous for its height and domed top. 

It’s somewhere between bread and cake, and it has an odd, almost cotton-candy-like texture that’ll remind you of a king cake. 

It’s fluffy and citrus-flavored and peppered throughout with candied fruit peels and raisins.

In some ways, it’s similar to a fruit cake, but mostly, it’s in a league of its own. 

11. Rustic Italian Apple Cake

This eight-ingredient cake takes about 10 minutes to prepare and another 20 to cook, and all you’ll need to make it is flour, sugar, butter, eggs, apples, baking powder, salt, and lemon juice. 

Its flavor is pure apple goodness, and for a 100% made-from-scratch cake, it’s super simple to pull together. 

If you’re looking for an Italian cake that gives you that “down-home cooking” vibe, this one is it. 

12. Italian Sponge Cake – Pan di Spagna

You can make a classic Italian sponge cake with only five ingredients: all-purpose flour, cornstarch, eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla. 

It has the perfect spongy texture, a light vanilla taste, and you can enjoy it practically any way you like – plain, fresh from the oven with a bit of butter, covered in frosting, or even dipped in coffee.

There’s no limit to the things you can do with this easy-to-make, 40-minute cake. 

13. Italian Hazelnut Cake (Torta di Nocciole)

Italian hazelnut cake almost looks like Italian sponge cake, though it’s a slightly darker brown.

It’s dense and buttery and has a phenomenal nutty flavor that’s hard not to love. 

Like the sponge cake, it has an uncomplicated appearance and takes minimal effort and fewer than 10 ingredients to make.

Also, like the sponge cake, you can enjoy it plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or smeared with rich hazelnut spread. 

14. Italian Orange Cake (Sicilian Whole Orange Cake)

This Italian cake looks beautiful, smells fantastic, and tastes insanely amazing.

It’s a relatively plain cake until you load it down with candied oranges, and that makes all the difference. 

The oranges and the nutmeg in the batter give it a nice overall flavor, but the candied oranges on top are what truly set it apart from other citrus-based cakes. 

If you’re looking for a bright, seasonally appropriate way to celebrate the summer, Italian orange cake is perfect for that. 

15. Pastiera Napoletana

Pastiera Napoletana is more of a pie than a cake, but it looks very cake-like, and it tastes superb, so I had to give it a spot on the list. 

It tastes and smells of citrus and features the rich flavors of wheat berry, vanilla, and ricotta.

It’s such a comforting dessert that even if you’ve never had it before, eating it will feel like coming home.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s stunning? Because it is. 

15 Traditional Italian Cakes (+ Recipe Collection)

These authentic Italian cakes are so good, you won’t believe it. From cream cake to ricotta cake to olive oil cake, savor the flavors of Italy in these treats.


  • Select your favorite recipe.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep an Italian cake in 30 minutes or less!
Italian Cakes

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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