Carnevale Cake

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Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina

Carnevale Cake


Buon giorno!

Carnevale is a festive and happy time in Italy. It is kind of the “last hurrah” before the period of lenten fasts, abstinence, and repentance. Elaborate masks and even costumes are donned, and the celebration begins early and leaves late – lasting for weeks and with the final big splash on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Carnevale brings many traditional dishes with it each year. One of these is a dessert cake, CARNEVALE CAKE  or SCHIACCIATA ALLA FIORENTINA. It is absolutely addictive in flavor and amazingly easy to make.

About Carnevale: Perhaps the most well known festivals are held in Venice, home to many of the beautiful masks we associate with this event, and Viareggio in Northern Tuscany, famous for its parades and beautifully detailed floats. The official mask of Carnevale in Viareggio is “ Burlamacco”, the clown who pilfers pieces from the other character masks and costumes to make one very odd looking and sometimes scary fellow. There is even a hotel named after him. Carnevale is considered a major event in Italy. Everyone, from children to the very old, participates in some way.


The Food of Carnevale: As with every other feast day or celebratory event in Italy, Carnevale seems to have its own set of foods that are associated with it. Every region has a special dish or dishes that they prepare to mark the celebration and especially on Shrove Tuesday, the last day of fun. As with other regional dishes, you’ll find similarities and differences in some recipes from region to region.

Polenta (a form of cornmeal mush) is a favorite in Italian households on Shrove Tuesday here in the US and in Italy. There will be some variation in how the polenta is made from region to region. Italians prepare it in all sorts of ways. In the south, most notably in Campania, the Napoletanas like to serve it with a beautiful red tomato sauce containing sausage and tiny meatballs. They serve it on a large board or platter and everyone eats from it. This is the way, my family enjoyed it every Shrove Tuesday for as long as I can remember. In my early days, my father, Attilio, would stand me up on a chair and let me stir the polenta with a special endlessly long wooden spoon – one of the most vivid of my childhood memories. For two posts on polenta try these other links on my site:


and also


Smashed, crushed, and squeezed: Whatever am I getting at here now? And no, it is not a new way to order hash browns at the Waffle House. Schiacciata translates to “smashed, crushed, squeezed” and a variety of other words of a similar nature. What exactly are we smashing, crushing or squeezing? Not a thing really! This is a very typical stew you find yourself in with so many Italian words and translations. As my mother, Loretta, used to say, “It sounds better in Italian.” She had a point.

The many faces of Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina:  This Schiacciata or CARNEVALE CAKE takes many forms in Italy. It is mainly a Tuscan idea, specifically Florentine. You’ll find it as a bread, a focaccia, a stuffed bread, a cake, and even a pizza. None of these have much similarity in preparation to one another.

Today’s Schiacciata at Linda’s Italian Table is most definitely a cake. It is a beautiful and simple cake to prepare (all in one bowl) and is also an example of the very popular and much requested Olive Oil Cake. The olive oil is not only good for you, but it also makes this cake irresistibly moist – giving it a an almost unique consistency. I have used lemon in this one: both extract and zest to give it a VERY definite citrus flavor. The special surprise is the addition of Candied Lemon Peel.I have long been a fan of the homemade candied peel. It has so many uses in baking and in cooking savory dishes. It also is delicious and different served at the end of a meal with espresso for just a little sweet treat. You can omit the Candied Lemon Peel entirely, if you wish, or use store bought – but OH the difference the homemade version makes to this cake – just can’t describe! I recommend an easy and fun recipe for making your own Candied Lemon Peel just a click away on my post “NO NEED TO PUCKER”.  This beautiful Candied Peel lasts a long time in a sealed container at room temperature or you can freeze it.

Trust me – they won’t be able to stop eating this one!!


(Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina)

Makes: one 9” round cake

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes


1 1/2 c. Flour

1 c. Ground Almonds

1 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 c. Olive Oil

3/4 c. whole milk

Zest of a fresh lemon

1 Tbsp. Lemon Extract

1 c. chopped Candied Lemon Peel (optional) For a homemade version: see my post: NO NEED TO PUCKER

Powdered sugar for dusting


Grease a 9 “ spring form pan.

Put whole almonds through a food processor to grind them finely

Mix together in a large bowl: flour, ground almonds, sugar, and baking powder.

Add olive oil and milk. Mix together until incorporated.

Add the extract and lemon zest and mix well.

Add the chopped candied lemon peel, if using it.

Pour into your prepared pan, and bake at 350 degrees until golden and set in the center – about 35 minutes depending on your oven. Test with a knife – if it comes out clean – you’re done!

Release and remove the side of the spring form pan and cool. Dust with sifted powdered sugar.

Serve: You will love this beautiful lemony CARNEVALE CAKE. You might enjoy it with a glass of Limoncello and an espresso! Believe me – there is nothing lovelier than this cake – especially as your swan song before Lent.

Just one more thing: Don’t forget your mask!


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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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  1. Linda Cavalucci says:


    I could not wait to see this recipe. I turned on the computer this morning and waited with excitement to see what this recipe was. I read it and realized I had all the ingredients. I printed it out and went to the kitchen to make it for Valentine’s Day. It was quick to do. I had slivered almonds that I put in the food processor. I already had the candied lemon in the refrigerator. I will, however, make my own for the next one. Your recipe is easy and I would rather use organic lemons. Anyone who has a reservation about using the candied lemon peel, please don’t, go for it because it adds another dimension to the texture and gives a burst of flavor.

    I had a slight reservation to how the olive oil was going to taste. Not any more… was luscious. The texture is divine. It is so moist and decadent in the mouth. You really can’t stop eating this cake. My husband had two pieces in one sitting.

    Again Linda, you have a smash hit. I can’t wait to make it for the next family gathering. I know everyone will want the recipe.

    Just by sharing your wonderful Italian recipes I am now learning things I really didn’t have the opportunity to learn before. This is truly a wonderful experience I am having.

    Again, thank you so much for sharing,

    Linda Rose

    • Linda – thank you so very much for your beautiful comments. I am always hopeful that readers will enjoy the recipes as much as I do especially the ones that really excite me like Carnevale Cake. I am so happy to hear that you liked this special cake. You are right about the Candied Lemon Peel! Thank you for sharing this with me.

  2. Hello Linda! I’m a new fan and absolutely thrilled to have found you!! I can hardly wait to bake this marvelous lemony cake (this weekend for sure!) I’ve already shared your FB post and hope we’ll become great FB foodie friends 🙂 Thanks so very much!

    • The pleasure is mine, Michele. Thank you for your nice comments. Hope it’s the beginning of a long and fun foodie friendship. Have fun with the cake.

  3. I tasted it fresh from Linda’s Test Kitchen oven.
    It was out of this world.
    I loved the rich flavor.
    I had Limoncello with mine.
    A perfect pairing for my taste buds.

  4. Marti Faytko says:

    This cake is out of this world delicious! Andy’s in the kitchen getting his second piece(I may join him!). And how simple to make. I didn’t have the candied lemon peel to include, but I will next time. I can’t wait to make this again when we have friends here for dinner. I’m even confident enough to make this for friends who own a fine dining restaurant here in Mountain Top. Thanks, Linda!

  5. Marti Faytko says:

    I made this the last week of February (even though it was a week past Shrove Tuesday – lol). It was so delicious & moist. Love the lemon flavor! And it was so easy to make. Andy went right back for a second piece! I can’t wait to serve this to friends. Thanks, Linda, for yet another fantastic recipe!

    • Marti – I don’t wait for Carnevale for this cake. I just love it so much – too good for just once a year. So glad Andy enjoyed it!

  6. Penny from Oxford says:

    Hello! I found your pages a couple of months ago and have finally baked one of your cakes – this one, the Carnevale!

    A lovely straightforward recipe, extremely moist – it’s the first time I’ve used olive oil and not eggs! – and a lovely taste of lemon. I didn’t have the candied lemon peel (will go for it next time!) but I scattered a few slivered almonds on the top to match the ground almonds.

    I did, though, have to bake it for a lot longer than the specified 35 minutes – by almost twice that!! – and the temperature in my oven is spot on. Perhaps it was because I used an 8″ tin rather than 9″ so slightly deeper batter?? Either way, when it came out of the oven, it looked fabulous.

    Didn’t get to taste it properly until today (other than the crumbs when I took it from the tin!) – I brought it into the office as a Monday treat for my colleagues! – and, in the words of one of them “You can make that one again – it’s decidedly morei-ish!” and it really is.

    Thank you SO much for sharing the recipe – I love the way you write your column, too. And I will definitely be making this one again 🙂

    All best wishes,

    Penny x

    • Penny – thank you for the great comments! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe. Cook times are always iffy – and are generally just suggested as all ovens and environments can be different. In place of the lemon peel, I usually recommend Golden Raisins. The result is pretty good! Hope you will visit often. Ciao!