This post is sponsored by La Cucina Italiana. Thank you for your support!
In spite of the fact that I always associate autumn and the holidays with apple pie, cake is and always will be my one true dessert. I’ve made a lot of cake in the past couple years, from PB & J swirl cake to banana cake, but I’ve never made a simple apple cake. It’s time for that to change.
This lovely autumn dessert is my tribute to torta di mele, a classic Italian treat that’s decorated with apple slices. The apples are pushed into the batter from the top, which creates a lovely pattern.
This recipe is also my tribute to La Cucina Italiana, a digital and print publication that celebrates Italian cuisine and a love of Italian culture. The online site features many healthy Italian recipes. When I was asked whether I’d like to contribute a vegan dish, it was an easy yes! I love Italian food, and I haven’t made too many traditional Italian desserts at home.
Oftentimes, when I make desserts with apple, I go heavy on cinnamon, clove, and other holiday baking spices. When I was reading up on torta di mele, I learned that the cake itself is usually very simple, with lemon zest as the main flavor note. I tried to honor that here, using the same cake batter formula that has become the base of nearly all of my cakes and the zest and juice of a large lemon.
Many torta di mele recipes have a dusting of confectioners’ sugar on top. Hilariously, I ran out to the grocery store in driving rain to get some when I photographed this recipe. But, once the cake was made, I thought that the top looked too pretty to tamper with at all. You can use some decorative sugar if you like, or you can leave it “naked,” as I did. Here’s the recipe.
- 1 3/4 cups (210 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk of choice
- 1/4 cup olive oil or another vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup cane sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large (or 2 small) apples of choice, peeled and cut into thin slices
- confectioners sugar, for decorating (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly oil or coat an 8-inch round baking dish with vegan butter.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice and non-dairy milk. Let them sit for a minute, then stir in the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well, then pour these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the lemon zest. Fold the batter together until it's fully mixed (some small lumps are fine).
Pour the batter into your baking dish. Decorate the top by pushing your thin apple slices down into it, in a pattern that suits you. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is puffy and golden and a toothpick inserted into the cake emerges clean. Allow the cake to cool before cutting into slices and serving. If you like, you can dust the top with confectioners sugar.
I’m always looking to learn more about foods from around the world. Italian cuisine is more familiar to me than most, since half of my family is from the Mediterranean, but I’m not an expert, and I’m always eager to discover more traditional recipes. I’m enjoying perusing the healthy Italian recipes on La Cucina Italiana, and I hope I can continue to get inspiration there for both dinner and dessert.
In the meantime, I’m savoring slices of this simple autumn cake with the Italian roast coffee that friends gave to me this past summer. It’s a new favorite, exactly the kind of treat I love, and I hope some of you will love it, too.
Happy Hump Day, friends. I’ll see you this weekend for the usual roundup!