Ston Cake (Stonska Torta)

Ston Cake (Stonska Torta)

Ston Cake (Stonska Torta) is a unique and intriguing dessert originating from a small town of Ston, Croatia. Under a rustic crust, there is an surprising yet tasty combination of tube-shaped pasta, nuts, chocolate, and aromatics like lemon and cinnamon.

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Ston Cake (Stonska Torta)

Hello folks – how are you doing? I hope this week has been treating you well.

When you are reading this post, Andrew and I are probably on the way to our vacation destination – the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg. Or perhaps we are already travelling and enjoying tulips, cheese, and chocolate. And apparently, celebrating my birthday, too :)

For the last couple of years, I have been sharing dulce de leche recipes around my birthday. Just like this Dulce de Leche Martini, Crêpes with Dulce de Leche Sauce, or this Chocotorta Trifle. And I also shared these Crêpes with Dulce de Leche, Mascarpone, and Coffee Sauce two posts ago.

But this year I opted for another recipe from Croatia – the country we visited last year (also in May).

Ston Cake (Stonska Torta)

As I mentioned earlier, this cake originated from small town/village Ston / Ston Mali, the Dubrovnik area. You can see a few photos of the town (and many cats!) in this post. When we were passing by Ston, it was an early morning, and we did not have a chance to try this famous cake. Still, I was super intrigued to give it a try, and here we go.

It is a pasta cake, so you will either like or hate it.

The filling is actually quite fantastic – lots of nuts and dark chocolate, flavoured with vanilla, orange, lemon, and cinnamon. Instead of regular granulated sugar, I used light brown sugar for the added flavour. Plus a lot of butter which of course goes so well with all these flavours. The filling gets alternated with cooked pasta and lightly beaten egg. And this filling is incrusted in unsweetened rustic dough. This combination may sound quite peculiar, but it is actually quite great! Even Andrew finished his (small) piece, even though he always is skeptical about sweet pasta. Myself? Loved it! This might not be a right dessert for those folks who cannot imagine sweet pasta, but if you are not so skeptical, give it a try. After all, the combination of eggs and butter turns the ingredients into a custardy situation, somewhat reminding a bread pudding. And nuts with chocolate? They make everything better!

Of course, like with other recipes, Ston Cake has many variations, including the way to make a crust and flavourings for the filling. I opted for the one with an addition of rum.

How to Make Ston Cake?

It is super easy indeed.

First, you will need to make a simple dough for crust and leave it to rest for a while.

While the dough is resting, you will need to prepare the filling (some prep time).

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface with a diameter larger than a deep baking dish – when the bottom and sides are covered, the dough should be hanging from the sides. The extra dough will be used to cover the filling later. For a dish ~20 cm you will need to roll out the pastry to a 35 cm circle.

Then you will need to alternate the layers of pasta, nuts, butter, and egg mixture. Lastly, you will need to gather the overhanging pastry over the filling and close it in the middle.

When the cake is baked and cooled, the cake is flipped, so that the part that was at the bottom of the baking pan is facing upward.

As you can see from the photos, the top of my cake looks a bit rustic. It is because I did not roll the pastry enough, so I needed to apply a few small trimmings in the middle. After all, this was supposed to be the bottom after baking – so I did not bother making it pretty. But I did not realize that the bottom of my baking pan had a distinctive pattern, so I decided not to flip the baked cake. By the way, if you are using a spring form pan, make sure to secure the bottom with foil – otherwise the butter could leak and create some mess! Been here :)

More Croatian Recipes

And be sure to check more Croatian-inspired recipes:

Šporki Makaruli (Dirty Macaroni)

Pasta with Black Truffle Sauce

Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread

I hope you like these Ston Cake (Stonska Torta), and you will give them a try shortly. If you make it, let me know in this post or send me an Instagram message or share your photos adding the hashtag #havocinthekitchen.

Cheers and see you in three weeks or so!

Ston Cake (Stonska Torta)
Ston Cake (Stonska Torta)

Ston Cake (Stonska Torta)

Recipe by Ben | HavocinthekitchenCourse: Dessert
Servings

6-8

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

50

minutes
Pastry and resting

1

hour

Ston Cake (Stonska Torta) is a unique and intriguing dessert originating from a small town of Ston, Croatia. Under a rustic crust, there is an surprising yet tasty combination of tube-shaped pasta, nuts, chocolate, and aromatics like lemon and cinnamon.

Ingredients

  • Pastry:
  • 2 eggs

  • 400 gr. (2 1/2 cups) flour

  • 100 ml. (2/5 cup) olive oil

  • 1 tbsp. (15 ml.) apple cider vinegar

  • pinch of salt

  • cold water if needed

  • a bit of oil and flour, for baking pan

  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted, for pastry brushing

  • icing sugar, optional, for dusting the cake

  • Filling:
  • 500 gr. tubed-pasta like ziti, rigatoni, or penne

  • 2 tbsp. (30 ml.) dark rum

  • 250 gr. (1 1/4 cups) sugar, granulated or light-brown, divided

  • 6 eggs

  • 250 gr. (ab. 1 cup) butter, into small pieces

  • 100 gr. dark chocolate, finely grated

  • 200 gr. (ab. 1 3/4 cups) walnuts, finely ground

  • 100 gr. (1 cup) finely ground almonds / meal

  • a pinch of salt (optional, authentic recipes seem not to add any salt)

  • 1 tbsp. (13 gr.) vanilla extract

  • 1 tbsp. (7-8 gr.) cinnamon

  • grated zest of 1 large lemon

  • Equipment:
  • 20-cm (8-inch) deep (at least 6-8 cm / 2.5-3 inch deep) baking pan or ~26-cm (10-inch), if you do not have deep. Both regular or springform tin would work, but springform is more convenient.

Directions

  • Pastry:
  • In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, vinegar, and oil. 
  • Sift the flour and salt to a large bowl, make a well in the center, and pour the egg mixture in the middle. Stir until combined.
  • Knead the dough lightly for a few minutes until it is smooth and elastic, you may also need to add a little of water if the pastry does not go together (I ended up adding about 2 tbsp.)Do not overwork – kneading for about 5 minutes should be enough. Cover and set aside to rest while you make the filling.
  • Filling Prep:
  • In a meantime, cook the pasta in boiling unsalted water as instructed on package until it’s al dente (or even a few seconds less.) Drain well then stir in the rum. Set aside to cool.
  • In a separate bowl, combine 200 gr. (1 cup) of sugar, chocolate, ground walnuts, almond meal, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt (optional).
  • In another small bowl, lightly beat the beat the eggs with the remaining 50 gr. of sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest, until foamy.
  • Assembly and Baking:
  • Preheat the oven to 180C (360F). Slightly grease the baking pan with oil and dust with flour. If you are using a springform tin, I would suggest securing the bottom with foil to prevent any butter leakage.
  • On lightly dusted surface, roll the pastry into a circle big enough to fit into the base of the prepared tin, up the sides letting the extra dough hang over the sides of the pan; for example, for a 20-cm pan, it should be a 35-cm circle.
  • Carefully lift the rolled pastry into the prepared tin; gently press into the sides.
  • Generously sprinkle the nut filling as the first layer. Scatter some butter.
  • Place a single layer of cooked pasta over the top, then sprinkle over more of the nut mixture. Dot with slices of butter. Pour 1/2 cup of egg mixture.
  • Repeat this process with the remaining pasta, nut mixture and butter, gently pressing down as you go. When you get to the top, evenly pour the remaining egg mixture over the filling.
  • Note: The number of layers will depend on your baking dish. I had 3 layers of pasta, nuts, and butter each and 2 – egg mixture (you can totally do 3 layers of eggs, too). There is no particularly strict order, after all, as long as the layers are relatively even, it will turn great!
  • Gather the overhanging pastry over the filling. Press the pastry down and try to press out any air pockets you may hear squishing in there.
  • Brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 min or until nicely golden.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin before removing from it.
  • When cooled, turn it onto a serving plate so that the part that was at the bottom of the baking tin is now facing upward. Sprinkle with the icing sugar (if desired) and enjoy!

16 thoughts on “Ston Cake (Stonska Torta)

  1. sherry says:

    Oh that was a surprise! I saw the photo and thought of a lasagne type dish. A sweet one huh? Yes I would definitely try it tho i don’t eat pasta these days. Gotta try everything once tho maybe not being a serial killer – hehehe. Happy birthday too.
    sherry

  2. David Scott Allen says:

    This is a fascinating recipe, Ben! As Frank mentioned, early pasta recipes were often sweet and I have made many of them, including those made with rosewater and cinnamon. Quite wonderful! I love all the experimentation you are doing with pasta dishes…

    PS – sorry I’ll be doing a lot of commenting today! I just got back from 3 1/2 weeks in France!

  3. Liz says:

    How intriguing!! The filling sounds terrific–I usually start with a sliver of a dessert, but this looks like one that I’d need a second piece!

  4. Raymund says:

    Wow, Ston Cake sounds like a fascinating culinary adventure! The combination of pasta, nuts, chocolate, and aromatic flavors like lemon and cinnamon is truly intriguing. I’m definitely tempted to give it a try, especially after hearing about Andrew’s positive reaction despite initial skepticism. Enjoy your vacation in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg, and have tons of Happy Birthday Celebrations! ????

  5. Marissa says:

    Pasta in cake? Um…sign me up. This looks absolutely incredible, Ben. Definitely a must try!

    I hope that you and Andrew are having a fabulous time on your trip!

  6. Frank | Memorie di Angelina says:

    Fascinating! This must be a very old recipe. Did you know that many of the earliest pasta recipes we have from the Middle Ages and early Renaissance were sweet? And came in the form of baked timbales? Nuts were often used as thickeners in sauces. Dalmatia was under Venetian rule, and Venetian cooking was redolent of spices, since they were heavily involved in the spice trade. Put this all together and this dish makes a lot of sense as a relic of that era..
    Frank | Memorie di Angelina recently posted…Uova sode alla piemonteseMy Profile

  7. Jeff the Chef says:

    I have to say this is one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in a long time! I love sweet things that are usually in savory context. They seem very old-world to me. I’m definitely going to make this! Thanks!

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