Sicilian Applecake - your new favourite?
Until two years ago I'd never even heard of Torta di Mele (well, I've not yet been to Sicily) a combination between an apple cake and an apple pie (or an Apfelstrudel, if you're German like I am). And now? It's our favourite apple cake!
I came across lots and lots of recipes for this dish, but in the end went with 'Not quite Nigella' (also known as Lorraine Elliott) as I love her recipe ideas and that she explains them so well. Of course, I've added my own little tweaks, but if my gobbledygook below doesn't make sense to you, feel free to head over to her Food Blog.
This cake takes quite a while to bake in the oven as it's done on a low temperature, but making it is dead quick and simple. Promise!
For a 26cm cake tin (10 servings if you're willing to share?) you will need:
1.2kg of cooking apples (Bramley, Boscop, etc.) - you want slightly acidic ones, trust me
85g sultanas/raisins (not currants!)
65ml calvados/dark spiced rum/amaretto
3 very large eggs
175g castor sugar
175g self-raising flour
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
125ml semi-skimmed milk
1.5 tsp vanilla bean extract
125g melted unsalted butter
pinch of salt
100g pine nuts
cinnamon to taste
2 tbsp demerara sugar
Here's how to make this yummy delicacy:
Soak the raisins/sultanas in the alcohol for at least 2 hrs (preferably over night if you remember, unlike me). Keep the alcohol as it'll be poured over the still hot cake once it comes out of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius and butter the 26cm round cake tin well.
I make the batter first, combining the eggs and butter with the sugar initially until it's a nice fluffy creamy coloured liquid, then I add the flour bit by bit, a pinch of salt, a good dose of cinnamon and the vanilla extract at the end. Set aside.
Now the 'hard' work - peel and core the apples, slice them as thin as you can and if you like, sprinkle them with the juice of one lemon to prevent them from browning (doesn't matter if they do though, as you won't be able to tell once you've baked them in the cake).
Get your buttered cake tin, pour in a third of the cake batter, then layer about a third of the apple slices into the liquid, scatter a third of the alcohol infused sultanas/raisins and half the chopped walnuts. Then again, a third of the cake mix, another third of the apples, sultanas/raisins, the other half of the walnuts and the final third of the mixture and the last apples, raisins/sultanas. Now, do not worry, if there seems to be more apple than cake - it will work!
Scatter the pine nuts on top of the final apple layer as well as the Demerara sugar. Place it on the middle shelf in your pre-heated oven and bake it for about 2 hrs. I give it an hour initially and then work in 20 minute increments as my oven can burn cakes so quickly. If it gets too dark after an hour/an hour and a half, just cover the cake with aluminium foil for the last half hour.
Get the cake out of the oven, pour over the reserved alcohol and leave it to cool entirely before you're easing it out of the tin. I personally love it just like that, still a bit warm, with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. But you can also decorate it with a bit of icing sugar dusted across the completely cold cake.
Now, why don't you give this a try and tell me what you think? Find me on Facebook or Instagram and share your baking results with me?