Nonna’s Breakfast and Dessert Farina Cake

Summary: A rich, firm pudding-like cake that hails from Sicily. I found this recipe in a Cook's Illustrated special edition, Heirloom Recipes. Cook's Illustrated suggests serving this warm. I actually enjoyed better cold, after it sat in the fridge for a full day.

Yield: one 9x13 cake; 14-18 servings


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup farina
  • 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese (if you make your own, make sure it's well-drained)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Place an oven rack in the middle position, and heat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan (I used a glass one).

In a large saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and butter, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the farina until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in the ricotta and vanilla. Let the mixture cool slightly, and then stir in the beaten eggs until combined.

Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes.

nonna's farina cake