Torta di Mele, aka classic Italian apple cake, is a dessert all Italian nonnas make! It's soft and fluffy, and easy to make with just 8 ingredients!
I'm so excited to share with you one of my favourite childhood treats, my nonna's torta di mele, aka a super classic Italian rustic apple cake!
I'm pretty confident there's some sort of apple cake (or apple pie, or apple crumble!) in all our childhood memories.
I grew up with my grandma's apple cake (and my mum's classic tiramisu), and whenever I smell it around, it winds back the clock to my sweetest childhood memories.
My mum, who's from Sicily and recently became nonna, loves making this cake, but she never measures the ingredients and just does things by eye.
I finally asked her to grab a pen and write down all the ingredients, and *BAAM*.
I can finally make my childhood favourite cake wherever I am.
TORTA DI MELE INGREDIENTS
Although every nonna in Italy has her own super-secret ingredient or method for making it, the basic recipe calls for just 8 basic everyday ingredients:
- butter or extra-virgin olive oil
- lemon zest
- baking powder
Most recipes call for butter, but this dairy-free apple cake is made with oil instead of butter.
I like to load it with delicious, crisp and slightly tart apples with a firm texture, but sweeter varieties would work well too.
Here are a few suggestions on my favourite ingredients to use when making this classic Italian dessert.
BUTTER OR EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
For my rustic Italian apple cake recipe I use a regular extra-virgin-olive oil ( lightly fruity EVOO works well too) instead of butter.
But if you don't like the flavour of olive oil (although you really don’t taste it here) you can swap it with the same amount of butter.
You can use your favourite apples when making this apple pie. I prefer apples that keep a crispy texture even after they are baked and are overall not too sweet.
I usually go for Honeycrisp apples or Pink Lady apples, with a sweet slightly tart refreshing flavour, or Cox apples, juicy with a mild spicy flavour.
I like to cut one and half apples into chunks and add it to the batter, then slice the remaining apples into thin slices to decorate the top of the cake.
If you're in a rush, just cut them all into tiny chunks and add them into the batter. It's still delicious!
I like to use a mix of all-purpose flour but a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour works well too.
The recipe calls for 200 g sifted flour, which means you first sift the flour then weight it.
I have not tried it yet with gluten-free flour, so if you give it a go, please share your experience in the comments.
I use organic fine demerara sugar, for a sweet-not-too sweet, slightly nutty flavour.
Traditional apple cake is made with regular white sugar (you can also substitute with fine light brown sugar).
Nuts: for an extra nutty flavour, fold into your batter ¼ cup ( 60 g) of toasted pine nuts or almond flakes, hazelnuts and pistachio work well too.
Cinnamon: Italian apple cake doesn’t traditionally call for cinnamon, but feel free to add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder into your batter.
ITALIAN APPLE CAKE STEP-BY-STEP RECIPE
This rustic apple olive oil cake is super easy to make, and only requires one bowl and barely 10 minutes of preparation.
This recipe is absolutely fool-proof, and I mean it. It's hard to fail with this apple cake even if you are a novice baker.
Step 1: Mix the eggs and sugar until pale, followed by the olive oil and vanilla extract.
Step 2: Slowly incorporate the flour. Do not overmix the batter, otherwise, it will result in a dense, gummy and chewy cake.
Step 3: Sprinkle the baking powder over the batter, followed by a pinch of salt, and stir until just combined.
Step 4: Add in 1 and ½ apples cut into little chunks, and lemon zest, and give the batter a final quick stir.
Step 5: Fold your apple cake mixture into a prepared pan. Decorate the top with the remaining apples, thinly sliced, and pop the cake in a hot oven.
Step 6: Bake the cake for approximately 30-40 minutes. To check if the cake is done insert a toothpick into the middle, if it comes out clean, then the cake is ready.
Allow the cake to rest until is completely cool, then sprinkle with confectioner sugar (not absolutely necessary), and serve yourself a big slice of fluffy, moist apple cake.
HOW TO SERVE TORTA ALLE MELE
In Italy, we love it cold, lightly dusted with icing sugar and served with a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast, or as a dessert at the end of a meal.
Traditionally it's served on its own, but a delicious scoop of cream ice cream (or some custard) on top is always welcomed.
CAN YOU FREEZE APPLE CAKE?
Absolutely yes! Let the cake cool completely, then cut it into slices and place in freezer-friendly bags or containers.
You can store apple cake in the freezer up to 3 months. Defrost it in the fridge overnight, or at room temperature for a couple of hours.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram tag @thepetitecook!
Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!
Torta di Mele - Italian Apple Cake
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 140 g sugar (or fine demerara sugar)
- 120 ml lightly-flavoured extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, (or half vanilla pod, scraped)
- 200 g sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder, (15 gr)
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 600 g Honeycrisp apples, peeled and cored, (about 3 medium apples)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 tbsp confectioner sugar
- Preheat oven to 180C/360F and adjust a baking rack onto the middle shelf. Grease and dust with flour (or line with parchment paper) a 9-inch cake pan and set it aside.
- In a large bowl, place the eggs and the sugar. Beat the mixture with an electric whisker until light and pale, then gently whisk in the olive oil, followed by the vanilla, and mix until all the ingredients are combined.
- Slowly incorporate the flour into the batter, mixing until just combined. Sprinkle the baking powder and a pinch on salt over the batter and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
- Fold into the batter 1-½ apples cut into tiny chunks, and lemon zest, and mix until just combined.
- Pour the apple cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Top the batter with the remaining 1-½ apples cut into thin slices, and bake in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes. To check if the cake is ready, insert a toothpick in the middle, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool and gently remove the apple cake from the pan.
- Dust the cake all over with confectioner sugar and serve at room temperature.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
I am disappointed,made this cake and it sank almost flat. Could it be the apples. I used two.
Hi Lucy, there are so many different reasons why a cake can deflate. I make this cake on a weekly basis and never had this issue, so maybe could be one of the following:
- Wrong oven temperature
- Overmixing the cake batter (too much air will make your cake sink)
- Baking tin was too big
- Incorrect amount of baking powder
As you can see many things could go wrong, but I'm sure the next time you try it, it will turn out great!
I think it is awesome 🙂
Mona Steinberg says
I made this apple cake today. It really was quick, easy and delicious. Good thing, because it didn't last more than hour. My family ate it so fast.
Made this for Rosh Hashanah. Good because its parve ( no dairy)
I'm making another because I only have 2 slices left and if you can freeze even better!
I made this cake, and the whole family loved it! The only variation I did was that I didn't add in any sea salt. But the cake turned out super well and was gone before I could even have a slice. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.
Beverly Beccani says
This cake is amazing! I made it using coconut sugar and also added 1/2 tsp of ginger as well as lemon juice over the apples. SO good, especially moist and delicious! My husband is from Tuscany and asked how I made this cake. 🙂
Hi Beverly, thank you so much for your feedback! I'm absolutely delighted to hear you and your hubby liked it 🙂
Natasha Larente says
I’m cooking this right now and it smells amazing! And looks fantastic too! Can’t wait to share with friends later ❤️
Dee Lafferty says
Im finding discrepancies in gr to oz conversion. How many oz of flour are you using
Hi Dee, I weight everything in grams, however, if you prefer oz, it's 7oz flour that you'll need. First, sift the flour, then weight it.
This a nice cake, it is reasonably light and not overbearing in flavour, if you wanted more zing, then use a cooking apple like Granny Smith or bramley and half a tsp of cinnamon...good for people with dairy intolerance.
Thank you so much for your lovely feedback, I'm so happy to hear you liked it :))
Rose Marie says
Hi" your recipe asked for 120 ml which then you write 1 cup. 120 Mimi's 1/2 cup. Which is it? Ths
Hi Rose! Oh no, THANK YOU so much for spotting this HUGE typo!! You're absolutely correct, 120 ml is indeed 1/2 cup, I've just updated the recipe 🙂 Thank you so much again for letting me know!! Hope you give this delicious cake a try :))