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Traditional Italian Christmas Cake Recipe

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This Italian Christmas Cake is another traditional recipe that is served during the holiday season. Better known as La Stella di Natale, it is baked in the shape of a star. Add A dusting of powdered sugar before serving. Simple and delicious, it is loved by all.

 

This Italian Christmas cake is often compared to a Panettone, except that it is easier and faster to make. No yeast involved. My kids love this cake, so since we are all together this Christmas I knew it was a must make on the menu!

Recipe Ingredients

  • Butter – softened butter
  • Sugar – granulated sugar
  • Eggs – room temperature large eggs
  • Flour – cake/pastry flour
  • Almond flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt – if you use unsalted butter then add a bit more salt
  • Zest – orange or lemon zest, I used orange zest
  • Vanilla – vanilla extract
  • Nuts – chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds toasted
  • Chocolate chips – semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Almond slivers –

How To Toast Nuts

Place nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking / cookie sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 350F (180C) oven for 5-8 minutes or until they are golden brown. Move immediately from the baking sheet to a clean bowl to cool completely. Do not leave the nuts on the cookie sheet as they will continue to bake. Chop the nuts after they have cooled completely.

Why Use Cake Flour?

I like to use cake/pastry flour in most of my cake recipes because it makes a cake softer and more tender. You can easily make your own, for every cup of all purpose flour, remove two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons of corn starch. Be sure to sift the flour and cornstarch together a couple of times, this way it is sure to be properly combined and lump free.

How to make an Italian Christmas Cake

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and zest.

The dry ingredients whisked in a silver bowl.

In the mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one at a tie beating between each addition.

The creamed butter in the mixer and eggs added.

Add the dry ingredients in three additions beating between each.

The dry ingredients added.

Add the milk and almond flour and combine. Add the nuts and chocolate chips, combine.

The remaining ingredients added to the mixture.

Transfer to the prepared pan, sprinkle with the toasted almond slivers.

The cake in the pan before baking.

Bake until golden and baked through. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Let cool completely then dust with powdered sugar before serving.

The cake in the pan after baking.

Variations

Instead of chocolate chips you could add candied fruit, dried fruit or even raisins. If you use dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins it is best to soak them for about 15 minutes in boiling water. Drain well before adding to the recipe.

For this cake I used semi sweet mini chocolate chips, if you prefer you could use regular chocolate chips, either semi sweet or milk chocolate. I also use chopped walnuts, you could substitute with chopped almonds or hazelnuts.

Cake on a glass plate and a slice on a white plate.

How to serve the Italian Christmas Cake

This cake is usually served at breakfast, as a snack or for dessert served with a dollop of whipped cream, sweetened cream or Italian pastry cream.

What makes this an Italian cake?

Italian cakes are usually denser and not quite as moist as American cakes. Although we all found this cake to be moist enough. Italian cakes are usually eaten at breakfast or snack with a coffee, tea or cappuccino, if eaten in the morning. These types of cakes are not frosted but dusted with powdered sugar before serving. Italians might serve this for dessert but with a spoonful of whipped cream or Italian pastry cream.

How to store the cake

Store the completely cooled cake in an air tight container at room temperature for up to three days.

How to freeze the Christmas cake

Wrap the completely cooled cake well in plastic wrap or foil then place in a freezer safe bag or container. It will keep for up to two to three months.

More Delicious Italian Cakes

A slice of cake on a white plate.

I hope you enjoy this Traditional Italian Christmas Cake / Stella di Natale however or whenever you serve it. Enjoy!

  • 1⅔ cups pastry flour 200 grams
  • 1 pinch salt (if using unsalted butter then add ¼ teaspoon salt)
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (or lemon)
  • cup butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or rum extract)
  • ¼ cup +3 tablespoons milk (room temperature) (105 total grams if you double or triple the recipe then double or triple this amount)
  • 1 cup almond flour 100 grams
  • ¾ cup nuts chopped (toasted) 100
  • ½ cup chocolate chips 100
  • 3-4 tablespoons almond slivers

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • Pre-heat oven to 340F/170C. Grease and flour or spray a 9 inch star shaped pan or round cake pan.

  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and zest.

  • In the mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time beating between each addition add the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in three additions beating between each. Add the milk and almond flour and combine. Add the nuts and chocolate chips, combine.

  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, sprinkle with the almond slivers and bake 50-60 minutes or until golden and baked through. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Let cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar before serving.

I like to use cake/pastry flour in most of my cake recipes because it makes a cake softer and more tender. You can easily make your own – for every cup of all purpose flour, remove two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons of corn starch. Be sure to sift the flour and cornstarch together a couple of times, this way it is sure to be properly combined and lump free.
Instead of chocolate chips you could add candied fruit, dried fruit or even raisins. If you use dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins it is best to soak them for about 15 minutes in boiling water, drain well before adding to the recipe.
For this cake I used semi sweet mini chocolate chips, if you prefer you could use regular chocolate chips, either semi sweet or milk chocolate. I also use chopped walnuts, you could substitute with chopped almonds or hazelnuts.
Store the completely cooled cake in an air tight container at room temperature for up to three days.
Wrap the completely cooled cake well in plastic wrap or foil then place in a freezer safe bag or container. It will keep for up to two to three months.

Calories: 277kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 2mg

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