Torta degli Addobbi

This week Catholics celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi, one of the most significant celebrations of the liturgical year, which was instituted by Pope Urban VI  in 1264. Last seen in the solemn profession of Maundy Thursday, the Eucharistic Host is joyfully paraded in a monstrance on Corpus Christi to celebrate the real presence of Jesus Christ.

Food, in the form of the wafer bread, is clearly at the centre of the festivities. Some Catholics choose to eat bread and wine based meals in mirror of the Eucharistic substances.[1]

Searching for such recipes I came across the Torta degli Addobbi, a Bolognese rice-based cake flavoured with vanilla and lemon. In Bologna Corpus Christi coincides with the “Festa degli Addobbi” , which gets its name (and in turn so did the cake) from the decorated fabrics draped from windows in celebration.


The Eucharistic procession took place from Bologna’s cathedral until Cardinal Paelotti decreed in 1566 that individual parishes could celebrate; by 1670 the celebration was divided so that each parish hosts every 10 years. The parish of Sant’Andrea Apostolo, for instance, last celebrated in 2010 with a full eight days of religious services and community festivities, including communal lunch and games.[2]

Here is the recipe that I used[3]:


  • 1 l of full milk
  • 200g of arborio (risotto) rice
  • 100g of chopped
  • 200g of caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • Lemon peel
  • 4 eggs


Add the vanilla and long pieces of lemon peel (avoiding the white part) into the litre of milk and boil. Add the rice and leave it on a lower heat for 12/13 minutes (so that it’s not too soft). Then leave it to cool completely.

Whilst it’s cooling you can blanch the almonds (if you didn’t buy pre-blanched) by adding them to boiling water for 60 seconds, draining, and peeling them. Then cut them up into small pieces.

Remove the vanilla and lemon peel. (I cut up the lemon peel into smaller pieces and added it back in for extra flavour, but you don’t have to). Add in the almonds, the sugar, the eggs and stir it well.

Place in a lined cake-tin and bake at 180 degrees for an hour or when the top of the cake is hard.

[1] For example, ‘Bread and Wine a la Mode’ on Corpus Christi day:

[2] You can find out more about this parish’s festivities here:

[3] The original recipe in Italian is  here:

Published 28/05/2018