Italian Soft Raisin Cake with almonds

Italian Soft Raisin Cake with almonds

By 20/04/2015

Yesterday I came back to England after a few weeks in Italy. When I am over there I am quite busy with the family and I have less time for blogging although I still manage to post some recipes anyway. Besides, how could I keep away from cooking? I get so much inspiration in Italy. Often if we eat out and I spot or try a dish that takes my fancy, I try to recreate it at home. Often it works. They say you eat with your eyes first and that is certainly true.

My children who are bilingual can practice the language and take a full immersion into the Italian culture. Since they were born I have only been speaking Italian to them and we behave very much like an Italian family having dinners altogether and eating the same foods. It is incredible how children can get accustomed to eating nice food, crave for it and after a while can begin to recognize junk or cheap empty foods. This is so much in contrast with the idea that children cannot appreciate so called "grown up foods".

This cake that I made just after Easter has the consistency of a panettone; it is a soft, perfumed and fragrant cake. I have added lemon and orange zest and a touch of vanilla essence. You could also add a drop of liquor if you like.

You need to be patient here as the dough needs resting time. The more times you raise it the softer the cake will be.

I have to say it was well worth the effort, this was delicious and it kept for a few days in a plastic container.

  • Prep Time : 40 minutes
  • Cook Time : 40 minutes



In a bowl melt the yeast with the warm water, 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of flour. Mix well and let it rest covered by a cloth for 20 minutes.

dissolving yeast

Add the remaining flour, the eggs, sugar, vanilla essence, raisins, salt, orange and lemon zest. Add the melted butter and work energetically with your hands (or with a mixer) for 10 minutes making a smooth ball.

working with your hands

Put the ball in a bowl, cover it with the cloth and let it rest for a couple of hours in a warm place. it should double in weight.

risen dough

After this time work it again energetically for a few minutes then divide it into 3 long rolls and make a plait. If you prefer you could also give it just a round shape instead.


Link both ends of the plait making a circle. Let it rest over a baking tray covered with parchment paper for another couple of hours covered with the cloth.

making braid

Make the topping. On a plate whisk the egg with the almond meal, the powdered sugar and enough milk to make a smooth and creamy texture then brush it gently on the cake.


Put a few whole almonds on top of the cake pressing gently. Cook at 200C or 390 F for about 40 minutes.

Soft raisin Italian bread

Absolutely wonderful and fragrant. This is the best soft raising cake I have ever made. Well worth the effort.

Soft raisin Italian bread

Soft raisin Italian bread

I am entering this to "Bake of the Week"ย  hosted by Helen and "Tasty Tuesdays".

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13 Responses to Italian Soft Raisin Cake with almonds

  1. gloria

    I love this recipe cara! And reminder me too the panettone (and I love it) I saved to make!!
    un abbraccio!

    • Alida

      Thank you Gloria!

  2. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    It reminds me of sweet X’mas bread. My husband loves almonds and raisins…this is definitely something for him.

  3. Kate - Gluten Free Alchemist

    The texture of this looks amazing. I loved panettone when I could eat gluten and I can see what you mean about the similarity in texture. Lovely!

  4. la cucina di Molly

    Che meraviglia Alida, sembra che รจ sofficissima, bravissima, questa me la segno! Un abbraccio!

  5. Diana

    So Beautiful….my mother makes bread like this…..your post brought back childhood memories! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Dottie Sauchelli Balin

    Hi Alida,
    I am back from some R&R and can’t wait to try this recipe. It looks so yummy, very light and soft. My whole family loves Panettone at the holidays. So I am sure they would love this! I love the raisins and you make this look so easy. I do hope that you had a wonderful time in Italy for Easter with your family. I have to go back and look at your other posts I missed. I agree that children can appreciate so called “grown up foods.” Especially if you start them off young like your children. Thank you so much for another outstanding recipe. Have a good week…
    Dottie ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Alida

      Welcome back Dottie! Looking forward to more of your recipes too!

  7. Casa Costello

    Welcome back to England! Hope you had an amazing time. I completely agree with your thoughts about children eating – We go self catering when on holiday so we can monitor what the children eat. We allow treats but can tell instantly by their behaviour if they have consumed too much rubbish. #Bakeoftheweek x

    • Alida

      That’s so true! If children have too much sugar it really effects their behaviour. Thank you for hosting #Bakeoftheweek.

  8. Pingback: Walnut & Honey Granola - Bake of the Week - Casa Costello

  9. Lucy

    Hi Alida. Love your site. We tried this cake twice on the weekend. Once hand mixed and once in the mixer. We followed your recipe exactly both times and both times we did not get it to rise at all. Cooked it. Taste was good but very dry and dense. Can you help

    • Alida

      Hi Lucy,

      Which yeast are you using? If it didn’t rise it is definetely the yeast.

      First make sure that you are using yeast for breadmaking. You can buy it fresh or dried.

      Mix it well with the flour and warm water (but NOT hot water or the bacteria in the yeast will die) and never mix it with salt when you dissolve it in warm water. Add the salt only later in the recipe with the other ingredients.
      When you knead the dough your kitchen should not be too cold. This sort of yeast is very delicate and you often get different results depending on the weather too!
      I usually make sure there are no doors or windows open letting cold air in (unless it is summer time and it is hot outside) as it will affect how much your cake will rise. Also let the melted butter cool down before adding it to the mixture.

      Knead the dough energetically with your hands or if you have a machine even better.You can let the dough rest wrapped in cling film for better results.

      When you brush the topping on the cake make sure you don’t press too hard with the spatula.

      I really hope it will work out for you next time! If you need any more tips let me know.

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