December 9, 2018 — The famous Split cake is undoubtedly the pinnacle of Dalmatian pastry making, though today it is prepared all along the Adriatic coast. Splitska torta is made with layers of nut-fruit meringue and a simple egg yolk buttercream. With dried figs, almonds and raisins as key ingredients, this traditional recipe perfectly reflects the essence of the Mediterranean.
A true Dalmatian favorite, Splitska torta is prepared for all kinds of festive occasions, and in our family, it is also an essential part of a traditional Christmas spread.
You can find hundreds of different recipe variations online, but once you nail down the basic technique, you’ll discover that Splitska torta is really simple to make, and the ingredient list can easily be tailored to anyone’s liking.
For example, instead of using just almonds, I like to use a mix of almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews, but also macadamia and pine nuts, if available. And if you want to add some extra chewiness to the meringue layers, along with dried figs, try using dried apricots. My last recipe rendition included a mix of dried pineapple, papaya, and mango — nothing to do with Split nor the original recipe, but it was delicious nonetheless!
Here is the basic recipe for Splitska torta:
9 egg whites
pinch of salt
9 tbsp crystal sugar
150g dried figs
3 tbsp all purpose flour
9 egg yolks
9 tbsp powdered sugar
250g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
lemon or orange zest, if desired
1) Beat the egg whites until frothy and forming soft peaks. Then add a pinch of salt and start gradually adding sugar while mixing them until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Tips: Make sure you separate the eggs without leaving any trace of yolk in the whites as the fat in the yolk can prevent the whites from developing the desired volume. For a foolproof meringue, after the sugar, add a splash of acid like apple vinegar or lemon juice to the mixture, as this helps to form a stable foam and it also makes meringue crisp on the outside but soft and sticky on the inside.
2) Heat the oven to 180°C/356F. If available, use a food processor to coarsely chop almonds (and/or other nuts), dried figs and raisins. Add flour and mix well. Lastly, combine the nut, fruit and flour mixture with meringue. Spread in a finger-thick layer over a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
3) To make the cream, combine the egg yolks with powdered sugar and mix over a bain-marie until thick and frothy. Add a splash of vanilla extract and lemon or orange zest, if desired. Leave to chill. Meanwhile, soften the butter at room temperature, and then cream it until smooth and foamy. Combine creamed butter and chilled egg yolks; mix well.
4) Once the meringue is baked, allow it to cool completely before cutting and/or transferring it. When ready, cut the meringue in 3 equally sized strips. To assemble the cake, spread about 1/4 of cream on top of each strip and gently stack them on top of each other. Use the remaining cream to cover the sides. Put in the fridge and leave to set. Decorate as desired.
Tips: Soften the butter just enough that your finger easily leaves a dent when you press it. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of granulated sugar will help cream the butter faster and form a uniform texture.
For more delicious recipes, make sure you follow TCN’s dedicated gourmet page.