It’s the weekend. Let’s have some cake!
Here’s a recipe for a classic(ish) Italian torta di mele ~ apple cake. Unlike American apple cake, which seems to me more of a spice cake with an afterthought of apples tossed in, this cake is about the apples. They make up most of the filling, bound by a small quantity of batter. The baked cake has a tender crumb and apples in every bite.
There are variations of this homespun cake all over Italy. The main ingredients are few and simple: flour, sugar, eggs, milk, butter (or oil), baking powder and lemon zest. And apples, sliced or diced. I top mine with a crumb mixture of butter, sugar and chopped walnuts or sliced almonds, which gives the cake a little crunch.
There are lots of other lovely apple cakes and desserts floating around out there in the ether. Here are a few that caught my eye:
A stunning torta di mele from EZy Cooking & More
A beautiful apple strudel from Italy On My Mind
A fabulous FrOnch apple gateau from Sippity Sup
A gorgeous apple harvest bread from Cake Duchess (whom I had the pleasure of finally meeting NYC last week!)
If you have a link to a favorite apple recipe, please share it in the comments. The more the better. Have a sweet weekend, friends.
A simple homespun cake that is nevertheless fit for company. I use a mix of apples to magnify the apple flavor: Suncrisp, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious ~ that I get from the Twin Springs Fruit Farm stall at my local farmers' market. Use your favorites or whatever catches your eye at your local farmers' market or apple orchard.
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 apples, cored and peeled, quartered, and cut crosswise into thin slices
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- Confectioners' sugar for serving
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8-inch springform pan with oil. Fit a piece of parchment into the bottom of the pan and lightly oil the parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, egg, half-and-half, lemon zest, 1 cup sugar, and the vanilla extract. Beat with a whisk or hand mixer to blend thoroughly. In a separate bowl, gently toss together the apple slices and lemon juice.
Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Gently fold in the apples. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. In a small bowl, combine the walnuts or almonds, 2 tablespoons sugar, and the butter. Mix with your fingers until everything clumps together. Distribute little bits of the topping evenly over the cake.
Bake until the topping is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Use a sharp knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Remove the ring from the pan and allow the cake to cool to room temperature. Invert it onto a plate, remove the springform bottom and peel off the parchment. Re-invert the cake onto a serving platter. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.