Once again this fall, Mark and I are volunteering to cook a meal for 65 - 70 of our dear friends on Wednesday nights. Our church has something called "Midweek Connections" that is full of classes & activities for all ages. Families are able to come straight from work for a meal and the evening ends with a short service (unless you stay for choir). We are always asked to share our recipes so I thought, "Why not Blog about it?".
September 14, 2011
(recipe on the back of Lipton's Beefy Onion Soup mix,
substitute cooked quinoa for bread crumbs)
Torta de Mele (apple cake) with Creme Anglais
Brownies (Ghiradelli mix - the best!)
When our girls were little, we would occasionally have a backwards meal with dessert first. So, since I've already posted about the Texas Pecan Pie Bars, I decided the Apple Cake, or in Italian - Torta di Mele would be next.
If I had to choose something for the last meal of my life, this cake would be at the top of the list. It is my future son-in-law's favorite and everyone else I've made it for raves about it. The first time I had Torta di Mele was in a little restaurant named Trattoria Pallotta, in Assisi Italy.
Tip to eating in Italy - eat where the locals eat. This is one of those places. They had a tourist menu where you get your choice between 1 of 2 appetizers, 1 of 2 Main Courses, and 1 of 2 Desserts. For dessert, Mark and our 2 friends chose the fruit & cheese plate. The Torta de Mele sounded too good to pass up, so I went with that. Good choice, GOOD CHOICE!! I rarely take photos of food I order in a restaurant but when this was brought to the table, still warm from the oven, I whipped out my camera:
"Puoi darmi la ricetta per favore?"
Each bite just melted in my mouth it was so moist. The flavor was not too sweet, and the texture was light and airy. I HAD to have the recipe! My gourmet friend Patty has been known to ask the chef of a restaurant to share their secrets, but I never had the courage, until that moment. We lived in Milano, Italy from '92-'94 so I knew some Italian. It had been 12 years and I was a bit rusty but all of a sudden the word "ricetta" - recipe, came to my head. When the waitress returned, I pointed at the plate and butchered together some kind of a sentence as politely as I could. She nodded and headed towards the kitchen. She came back smiling, with a scrap of paper in her hand. "Grazie, molto grazie, per favore grazie alla chef", I thanked her over and over again. I hoped she understood. This is what was on the paper:
TORTA di MELE
180 C, per 35 - 45 minuti
2 etti di burro
3 etti di farina
3 etti di zucchero
succo - 1/2 limone
succo - 1/2 arancia
una bustina Lievito dolce
This can be found at Amazon in a package of 10,
but I have started using baking powder instead.
- The directions are missing
- NO mention of what size pan to use
- Italian measurements (1 etti = 100 grams)
- and yes, it's in Italian. At least that was easy because I was used to that.
Here is what I came up with:
- 4 eggs
- 14 T. butter - room temperature
- 300 grams flour (about 2 cups)
- 300 grams sugar (1 1/3 cups + 1 teaspoon)
- Juice of 1/2 a large lemon (or all juice from a small lemon)
- Juice of 1/2 a large orange (or all juice from a medium orange)
- 2 large Braeburn apples (or 3 medium)
- 2 t. baking powder (or 1 pkg of Italian sweet leavening if you can find it - see above)
Pre-heat oven to 355 degrees (F). Grease and flour a 10" round cake pan.
1. Cream together the butter and the sugar:
2. Add in the eggs, blending after each one:
3. Blend the flour and the baking powder (or leavening packet) together. Italian flour is different than American flour. Once I've weighed the flour, I sift it 2 or 3 times. Slowly add to the batter until it is blended in:
4. Peel and chop the apples. I like to have a mixture of coarsely and finely chopped pieces. Mix the lemon and orange juice into the chopped apples. Fold into the batter until well mixed:
5. Pour into prepared pan:
6. Bake for at least 45 minutes or until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The first time I made this I set the timer for 35 minutes and it was far from done. I kept adding 5 minutes at a time until finely at an hour, it was ready. Sometimes it is done in 50 minutes, I think it depends upon the amount of apples you use. Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan:
The cake is at its best when served warm, but tastes great no matter what the temperature. I have served this with a warm butter sauce, but I think it was served in the restaurant with Creme Anglaise. One option is to spoon either sauce over the cake and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth.
- In a small saucepan, whisk cream and vanilla together over medium heat until you see bubbles forming at the edges.
- Remove from heat and, slowly whisk 1/2 cup of hot liquid into the egg mixture.
- Gradually add egg yolk mixture back to remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly.
- Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
I fell in love with Assisi and it wasn't just because of the Apple Cake. When we visited 5 years ago, it was late fall. The skies were so blue and the air was so crisp. Most cities in Italy are a bit on the grungy side, but not Assisi. It was stunningly beautiful. I found some of the pictures and thought I would share them with you. Hope you enjoy. But first one more look at the cake I made today. By the way, I bought the plate it is sitting on in Deruta - a little town just outside of Assisi. I could spend a week there shopping for ceramics ... but that is another post entirely!
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