Pine Nut Cake (Pinolata)

 makes 3 9x5 cakes

for the cake batter

2 cups pine nuts
1  1/4 cups sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 whole eggs
3/4 cup yogurt

for the meringue:
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Toast the pine nuts over very low heat in a dry saute pan until they have just begun to take on a golden color. Remove from the stove and reserve.

Prepare the batter:
Meanwhile, cream the sugar, butter and lemon zest together in a KitchenAid with the paddle attachment.  Be sure to scrape down the sides as you go to make sure everything mixes evenly.

When the mixture is quite smooth, add the flour and baking powder.  Mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated and then begin adding the eggs, one by one, waiting until each egg is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next.  Turn the KitchenAid up to high for about 5 seconds to combine everything thoroughly, then scrape down the sides and the bottom with a spatula and mix in any bits that have failed to incorporate.

Add the yogurt and mix in with the paddle attachment until it's thoroughly incorporated.

As you continue mixing, add the lemon juice and incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom and mix well with a spatula.  Then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.  

Prepare the meringue:

Beat the egg whites in the mixer with the whisk attachment at medium speed until they've formed a froth.

While the egg whites are still whisking, add the sugar in a slow stream.  Mix at medium for 20 seconds and then turn up the mixer to high and continue beating until the meringue forms stiff peaks, about 4 minutes.  

Finish the cake:
Fold a third of the meringue into the batter using a rubber spatula to combine well.  Add the rest of the meringue and fold in well until the mixture is combined.  Fold in the pine nuts, reserving about 3 tablespoons for the top of the cakes.

Spray 3  9x5 loaf pans evenly on all sides with a nonstick coating.  Fill each loaf pan about two-thirds full with the batter.  Smooth and flatten the tops with the spatula.  Sprinkle the tops of the cakes with the reserved pine nuts.  

Bake the loaves on the middle rack until you can put a knife into each and bring it out clean, about 45 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the pans for about 30 minutes and then turn them out onto a cake rack to cool completely.   You can wrap and freeze them if you wish.

The Italian Dish
http://theitaliandishblog.com