Italian Apple Cake Recipe

Italian Apple Cake Recipe

Writing about Italy in my last post about making fresh pasta made me think of this recipe. So much so that now I have to make one this week!

When I was living in Germany, my husband and I frequented the pizza joint that was within walking distance of our apartment. It was run by an Italian family, so they did a lot of things right. On one occasion, I saw the chef making cheese wheel pasta tableside, something that was completely new to me.

One evening we had pizza there, and the apparent matron of the family was in the kitchen. She brought us out some Italian apple cake, also something that was completely new to me. I could not BELIEVE how wonderful this cake was! It was so good we bought a whole pan of it. It was tender, with a touch of lemon, and just sweet enough. Although she didn’t speak English or German, her son and daughter-in-law told us the cake was her personal family recipe, which I promptly asked for. But I got a Nona no-no in the shape of a wagging finger, even if she was smiling.

Well, I couldn’t let this go, so I tracked down a few recipes online (there are tons now – not so many then). Turns out that it’s one of those things every family has their own recipe for, so there are endless variations. Apparently, the Italian name is ciambellone or ciambella, both of which translate as ‘donut’. That would be because it’s baked in a Bundt-style pan, though the one I had was in one of those disposable aluminum pans, I’m sure because it was a restaurant product.

I downloaded a few recipes and tried them until I got very close to Nona’s recipe. My Italian apple cake recipe claims to be based on a Tuscan farmer’s family recipe, which probably accounts for why it’s so close to Nona’s. In any case, I’ll share it here. Please let me know if you make this and how it turns out. I doubt very much you’ll be disappointed!

Italian Apple Cake

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/4 cups flour 200 g
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch lemon zest
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar 100 g
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 7 tablespoons melted butter 100 g
  • 1 cup milk 237 ml
  • 2 golden apples sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350F (175 C).
  • Butter and flour a Bundt-style pan. Set aside.
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, egg and egg yolks. Beat well until light yellow and fluffy.
  • Gradually beat in flour mixture bit by bit.
  • Gradually beat in melted butter.
  • Stir in the milk. The mixture should be quite thick and creamy.
  • Pour batter in prepared pan and smooth with spatula.
  • Peel and thinly slice the apples. In a bowl, coat them with lemon juice to prevent browning and to add lemon flavor.
  • Push the apple slices into the batter. There will be almost too many apple slices for the batter to cover them all. It's ok to leave some unsubmerged.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Internal temperature should be about 200–205 degrees F.
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire rack.
  • Serve cool with dusting of powdered sugar or a small dollop of whipped cream.

Notes

This cake is VERY moist, so much so that you might think it’s underdone. Don’t be afraid to bake it more than the recipe states. It’s not a light and airy crumb; the texture is very creamy.
Although most baked apple product recipes recommend tart apples, this one is best with crisp, sweet apples like Honeycrisp or Gala.
This cake is great for breakfast or dessert!
Vanilla ice cream is a good topping, too.



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