Torta di Mela - The Apple Cake
There is nothing that warms my soul quite like a straight up, no frills apple cake. My Nonna made these all the time, using apples from her tree in the backyard. These apples were largely inedible after being half eaten by insects and birds (Nonna called this 'no medicine' aka organic), but no food was garbage in Nonna's eyes. She picked through each one, cutting out any inch of edible fruit. The goods were then roasted with lots of cinnamon, or baked into apple cakes just like this. The cake is not super sweet, but sweet enough to offset a strong coffee. The areas around the apple chunks are almost like batter, the top a is just a little bit crusty, it's perfect. Now my Nonna was not the only one making this perfect classic cake. Every Italian woman has their own torta di mele recipe, and they all have a fun and different twist. More or less sugar, lemon zest, different spices, perhaps a shot of liquor. It all works, it's all right, it's all delicious.
Sadly, I never actually got my Nonna's recipe. The one I use today is similar enough and it reminds me of her just the same. This recipe comes from another Nonna, one who also knows her way around the kitchen clearly. Her name is Eda, and I have never met her, I actually have no idea who she is. My Zia (aunt) gave me a recipe card, so stained and void of actual instructions that I knew it had to be good. Eda didn't let me down, and I've been making this cake ever since.
the original recipe card
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil, I like olive but I realize that can turn this into an expensive cake
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour (I've been told whole wheat flour also works here)
1/2 cup almond flour (or more all purpose flour)
2 tsp baking powder
4-5 medium sized apples, peeled and chopped into chunks *honestly if you have even 1 apple you can make this work
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 9inch springform pan or large rectangular baking dish with parchment paper and grease with butter.
Toss the apple chunks with brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Set aside.
Whisk eggs and sugar very well until light in colour and fluffy. Slowly stream in the oil and vanilla. Sift in flour and baking powder and mix until just combined. The batter is quite thin, don't worry about it.
Pour a little bit of batter into the baking dish then sprinkle some of the apples on top. Continue to layer apples and batter until you're out. Don't worry If it seems that there are more apples than batter, the batter will bake around the apples. Bake for about 1 hour, until lightly golden on top.
note this recipe also halves very well, just make it in a smaller vessel, cut the apple smaller, and cut the bake time in half.