As beautiful as a big slice of a decadently rich chocolate cake looks, it is really not my thing. It’s far to sweet and far to rich for my tastes. I am not a big fan of super sweet desserts. I much prefer them to be be slightly sweet, more rustic and less “pretty”. That being said, here is a perfect example of a rustic, mildly sweet dessert that can be enjoyed as an after dinner treat or as a midday snack or something in the morning with a good strong cup of coffee. It is an Italian apple cake known in Italian as the Torta de Mele. I made it as part of my latest display of goodies for our church coffee cart. I paired it with some Mandarin oranges and mini poppy seed muffins to complete my tray.
Apples are very popular all throughout Europe, as well as the rest of the world. When it is apple season, fresh apples are always such a delight. They are begging to be used in as many fresh and delicious ways as possible. Almost every country has their own version of a traditional apple cake, and every region has personalized it as well. The French have their gateau aux pommes moelleux, Germans have Apfelkuchen, and the Danish call it aeblekage, and on it goes. Apples have been a part of European baking throughout the ages. For instance, the Apfelkuchen or a German apple cake is very popular all over Germany, but it tends to be a bit drier than its Italian cousin, the Torta de Mele. Another difference between the German Apfelkuchen, and most other apple cakes, and the Italian Torta de Mele is cinnamon. The Germans use cinnamon, whereas the Italians typically do not. They use a bit of lemon to enhance the flavors of the apples.
When making a Torta de Mele it is also recommended to make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature, rather than having some cold and and some warm. This helps the flavors of the cake blend together better. This is supposed to be a thick cake, so use a deep pan that is at least 2″ thick. Traditionally this cake is made in a bundt pan, but I found a recipe that made it as a sheet cake instead, so I decided to make it this way for a change of pace. I have made it both ways, and no matter how I bake it, it always comes out great.
Italian Apple Cake
You can use whatever type of apples you like as long as they are firm, crisp apples. My favorites are Galas, but Granny Smiths work just fine too. This cake uses a little cinnamon, but not much, and surprisingly, no lemon in this recipe. It is an adaptation of a traditional Italian cake that has hints of the German apple cake as well. I guess it would be considered a Northern Italian recipe, since Northern Italy is closer to Germany, and thus the German influences.
For the Apples
6 apples, peeled and sliced thin
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix the apples, cinnamon and sugar together and set aside until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350* F or 175* C.
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. I have 2 9×13 baking pans and I use them all the time. Usually that is more than enough. Oddly enough though, this time, they were both in use at the same time, which rarely happens. So I did what comes naturally to me, and I improvised. I lined a deep cookie sheet with parchment paper and used that instead. It worked just fine. My cake still came out nice and fluffy and it was very moist indeed.
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup almond flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1` tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
powdered sugar for dusting
Combine the butter and sugar and mix until creamy, then add eggs and vanilla, adding the eggs one at a time, and mix in between each addition.
Combine all the dry ingredients and mix together.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the yogurt to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing in between each addition.
Add half the apples to the bottom of the pan and spread out evenly in a single layer across the bottom of the pan.
Add the batter on top of the apple slices and completely cover them. Then arrange the remaining apple slices on top of the batter.
Bake uncovered for about one hour or until the cake is done and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting into squares and dusting with powdered sugar. There are apples all throughout the cake. Every bite will have apple in it.
Grab yourself a big strong cuppa and enjoy the simple, rustic flavors of this delicious apple cake. !Buon Appetito!
Stay safe and stay well Everyone! ‘Til next time.