Jamie Oliver’s La Torta Della Giovane Sara, “Young Sara’s Torte” – A Lemon and Pine Nut Cake




When I told my husband that I was baking a cake, from scratch, lights lit up in his eyes.

“A sheet cake?”, he asked.


“Oh, well, what flavor frosting will it have?”.

“It won’t have any”.

“Well, then, I’ll eat it, but that’s not really a cake, is it?”

And that brings me to my novice baking question – what exactly is the difference between a cake and a torte? According to Wikipedia, a torte is a cake with many layers. Not so here. At Baking 911, they say a torte is a cake with little to no flour. Well, this torte has 3 & 3/4 cups of it.

What I can tell you about this cake/torte is this: it is rich, lemony, buttery, and delicious. This is not the kind of dessert you would present as a birthday cake, but rather one that begs to be served with a hot cup of tea at 4 in the afternoon. I might even put it out as part of a brunch or lunch buffet, or maybe sliced very thin after dinner with a small glass of limoncello on the side.

La Torta Della Giovane Sara
from Jamie Oliver’s book – Jamie’s Italy


1 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus a little for the pan
3 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs, preferably organic
2 cups sugar
zest and juice of one lemon
1 & 1/4 ounce packet active dried yeast
3 & 1/2 ounces pine nuts


Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 12 inch (I used a 10 inch) springform pan and line it with a disc of waxed paper. Sprinkle the waxed paper with a little bit of the flour. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then mix the yeast with the melted butter. Add this to the eggs, with the sugar, remaining flour, and the lemon zest and juice. Mix together well and pour into the cake pan. Scatter the pinenuts over the top and bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes (I baked it for 45) or until golden.


I have to admit, I was a bit worried when my batter was so thick. My husband had to help me by holding the mixing bowl while I scraped everything into the springform pan, but at least it shows off the lovely yellow color I originally had in mind when preparing this torte for the Winos and Foodies Taste of Yellow Event:


And the recipe certainly didn’t need the 3 1/4 ounces of pine nuts it called for – 1 oz more than sufficed:



Here it is looking beautiful, hot out of the oven:



Springform pans are amazing! I purchased a cheapie one especially for this recipe.


This recipe, from Jamie’s Italy, has been dog-earred for a few months now. I had purchased all the necessary items and ingredients for making it a week or so ago, conveniently right before I decided that with “little sundress” season fast approaching, I needed to start following the Weight Watchers Points plan again. (Is it possible to be a foodie AND be on Weight Watchers? Discuss…). Anyone care to guess how many points one slice of this cake would be, if cut into 10 pieces? Drumroll please……FOURTEEN POINTS. 14! For anyone who has no idea what that means, my point maximum for the day is TWENTY. Maybe it has something to do with the two entire sticks of butter in the recipe. So, one slice of this cake and a chicken breast, and I am good for the day. Ummmmm, I can’t imagine ANY cake being worth that, unless, of course, Jamie Oliver were to hand feed it to me himself. I gave up 2 points that day to take a large bite, while the rest was enjoyed by my husband and co-workers. Would I make it again? Absolutely… but I think I will save it for sweater season.

11 comments to Jamie Oliver’s La Torta Della Giovane Sara, “Young Sara’s Torte” – A Lemon and Pine Nut Cake

  • KItty – I lay in bed this morning thinking about searching out my WW points book so I could do something about my increasing weight – and then I read your cake entry. Fourteen points for a piece of cake. – know I no why my weight is increasing! This looks wonderful. Thanks for supporting A Taste Of Yellow.

  • Looks delicious. Welcome to the baking world. And I so hear you on the fast approach of little sundress season. Not sure where the buffer of the winter went… :(

    Anyways, the cake looks great but I will live vicariously for now.

  • Where have I been that I didn’t see this Monday? This is a fabulous cake! And just a larger bite? I couldn’t do it….my larger bit would be an open-wide – for-the-whole-piece bite…:)

  • I saw this cake in person and it looked delicious!

  • Barbara: WW is already working great for me, but it is so infuriating to not be able to douse everything with olive oil, or to enjoy many desserts. It really opens your eyes to how many calories we are all so accustomed to eating!

    Helios: I will have to learn some baking tricks from your great site!

    Chris: I was saving points for the wine I knew I was going to enjoy later that night….ahhh…priorities…

    Jeff: Next up – Mario Cake!

  • I have made some similar cakes and I love them! I know this must be a good recipe too 😀

  • Sean

    Hi, Kitty – I bought Jamie’s cookbook a few months back and this was the first dessert recipe that I tried. I like it very much, and was interested to find that you had a couple of the same thoughts that I had when I first tried it: 1. batter was much thicker than I expected 2. Half the pine nuts called for in the recipe is plenty.

    I like a little more lemon flavor in mine, so I actually use two lemons’ zest and juice. Also, I have been using a 10″ springform pan instead of the 12″ called for in the recipe…no reason for this other than I am too cheap to buy a bigger one. 10″ seems to work fine though.

  • Rob

    I am a novice at cake making and have just made this with a 12inch cake tin. I am a bit worried that it does not appear to have risen as much as the picture in Jamie Oliver’s book. Also,what is the yeast for as in the recipe there is no time for it to rise before it is killed off by the heat? Should I have let the mixture stand to give the yeast time to work? Help!!

  • Rob,

    I am soooo not a baker. When I bake, I just follow a recipe precisely, and hope for the best. Thats what I did with this recipe, and I was happy with the results. As you can see, other commenters also wondered about the yeast., and I really dont know what its for. All I know is I do whatever Jamie tells me to do, and he has never steered me wrong.

    I say, eat and enjoy!

  • Glenn

    I spent ages searching for the 00 flour ( sainsbury’s do it ). Like you I had problems tipping the mix into the tin. Just waiting for it to cook, smells great. Can’t wait to try it…

  • […] Pine Nut Torte + pumpkin ice cream (thank you Jamie Oliver) for dessert (Add an egg and extra zest and juice of lemon) […]

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