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Autumn and the Jewish New Year always mean sweet/tart/crisp, juicy apples and cinnamon to me. I can’t get enough of them in every and any iteration. My blog has several apple cake examples and you could be excused in thinking that are many more really needed.
But when I came across this recipe for an Italian Apple Cake, I knew I would try it right away. Of course, I tweaked it a bit! The result is a beautiful, fragrant, appley cake that is even better the second day. Every time I lift the lid on the cake plate, I am hit with a waft of apple scent. It’s delicious before I even taste a bite!
Most of the ingredients are always on hand so I was able to pull it together without a trip to the grocery store. There is nothing fancy here or cloyingly sweet. Every bite is chock full of apple chunks and the flavor is clean and apple-forward with a hint of lemon and cinnamon.
While I did use a hand mixer for beating the eggs with the sugar until airy and light, this cake can be made by hand if you have a strong arm. Other than that one task, no special equipment is required. And while I chose to lay some additional apples on top, dotted with butter and sprinkled with Demerara sugar, you could opt to leave that off and simply dust the cooled cake with confectioner’s sugar for presentation. I did also brush the finished cake top with a light coating of apple jelly for a bit of shine.
With so many varieties of apples available, choose one (or a variety) that is tart/sweet and will hold its shape when baked. No applesauce here!
The holiday of Sukkot begins Sunday night and lasts all week. This is a perfect treat for the coming 8 days. But you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this Italian Apple Cake. Perfect as is, a dollop of freshly whipped cream or crème fraîche would not go amiss, however. And the cake cuts beautifully.
And if you are like me, and can’t get enough of apples, consider some of these other delicious recipes:
Vegan Dessert to die for – Apple Frangipane Tart
Apple Walnut Bread with Rum-Soaked Raisins
Apple Pecan Bourbon Bundt Cake
Plum (or Apple)and Almond Paste Tart
Vegan Apple Raisin Cake with Applejack Sauce
Apple pie with cheddar cheese crust and hard sauce
Yield: One 9-inch cake
2.5 to 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks (I used 2.5, but I could have even had a few more chunks)
1 large apple if using the decorative topping, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
Zest of one small lemon
2 cups (240 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons (14 g) double acting baking powder
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (245 g) whole milk plain yogurt
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for dotting apples on decorative top, if using
A light sprinkling of Demerara or sanding sugar for decorative top, if using
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a non-stick 9-inch spring form pan with a vegetable spray.
Rub the lemon zest into the sugar and set aside while you measure out your other ingredients.
In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the lemon/sugar and eggs until they are light in color and VERY fluffy. This takes between 5 and 8 minutes.
Stir in the yogurt, butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Do this by hand with a spatula. Do NOT use the hand mixer.
Add the dry ingredients and stir through gently until everything is well combined. Then add in the apples and gently stir through.
If you are using the optional decorative topping, layer the apple slices in an attractive over-lapping pattern. Then sprinkle the apple slices with the sugar and dot with the butter.
Place the spring form pan on top of a baking pan to catch any oozing from the bottom of the pan. Bake until nicely browned. Ovens vary as do apples. So start checking after 45 minutes but don’t be surprised if the cake takes at least an hour. I always then turn off my oven, leaving the door ajar with the cake inside. This will ensure that the cake really is done and won’t sink. The apples and yogurt will keep the cake moist.
Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Using a thin spatula, carefully run it around the inside of the pan’s rim to make sure that nothing stuck anywhere. Then you can open the ring and remove it. Cool the cake fully. The cake should easily come off of the bottom of the spring form pan. However, you could also leave it on it and serve from there, just being careful not to cut into your pan.
Place the cooled cake in a covered cake plate. Italian Apple Cake is even better the next day, making it a great do-ahead recipe. Now enjoy!