My eternal search for the ultimate apple cake continued throughout the summer in preparation for a fall post. The criteria were specific: the cake had to be moist, uncomplicated, delicate yet distinct in flavor, ladened with apples and include olive oil. I am delighted to report that the search is over thanks to the remarkable Yotam Ottolenghi. Apple & Olive Oil Cake is the quintessential Italian style Torta di Mele, even your Nonna would approve.
This cake stands proudly on its own, despite the fact that the original recipe includes a maple icing which I am certain is nothing less than heavenly. A generous dusting of confectioner’s sugar, as Ottolenghi suggests is the ideal way to adorn this cake.
As a rule, I have a jar of golden raisins marinating in grappa at all times. The sweet raisins swollen with grappa are a terrific with gelato or panna cotta, so why not use them in the Apple & Olive Oil Cake?
I adjusted the recipe slightly, using two eggs, rather than the 2 eggs and 2 egg whites in the original recipe, as I wanted a denser type of crumb. Adding both the vanilla seeds and grated lemon zest to the olive oil and sugar allows the oil to absorb the flavors in a deeper way which results in a more fragrant cake. The batter in this recipe binds the abundant amount of apples together, it envelopes the cut apples like a cozy fall sweater. Cutting the apples to size insures that they will be fully cooked once the cake is baked. The aroma of the lemon, cinnamon and apples filled the house with the intoxicating fragrances of fall.
Looking for a fall cake, something parve for the upcoming holidays – look no further.
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- Heaping ¾ cup of golden raisins soaked in Grappa for at least 2 full days
- 2¼ cup of all purpose flour
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1¼ tsp. baking soda
- ½ cup of good quality Italian extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ superfine sugar (run granulated sugar through the food processor for a few minutes)
- ½ plump vanilla bean, split & seeds scraped
- 2 organic large eggs, separated
- 3 large Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and diced into ⅜ inch pieces (I used 4 small apples)
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325º. Grease a 9” springform pan and line the bottom & sides with parchment.
- Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda - set aside.
- Put the extra virgin olive oil, superfine sugar, lemon peel and vanilla seeds in the work bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until combined, scrap down the work bowl and continue to beat on medium-high until the mixture becomes thick - about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time scraping down after each yolk is added. Beat for an additional 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and quite thick.
- Remove the work bowl from the mixer and using a spatula, fold the diced apples and raisins into the yolk mixture, turning it well from the bottom of the bowl. Add the sifted dry ingredients and continue to fold in by hand, this will take some time and patience as the batter is not as wet as one would expect.
- Whisk the egg whites using a clean bowl and whisk (or the standing mixer with the whisk attachment) until soft peaks are formed.
- Add ½ of the eggs whites to the rather dense apple batter to loosen it to a degree. Add the remaining whipped egg white, continuing to fold gently but evenly.
- Turn the batter into the prepared cake pan carefully scraping every bit from the bowl. Using the back of a large table spoon, smooth out the batter and place the pan into the oven.
- Bake for 1 to 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool. After 20 minutes, unhinge the sides of the springform pan. After 45 minutes remove the bottom of the springform pan an allow the cake to cool completely.
- Once cooled, generously sift confectioner’s sugar over the cake and perhaps garnish with some lemon peel.
Lorryn Wahler says
This recipe looks delicious, Paula, as do most of yours. What do you suggest to use for mixing for those of us without a standing mixer? I assume a food processor wouldn’t quite work and a hand mixer would be preferable? If so, I’ll have to make this cake with your wonderful cousin around to help!! Much love!!
Thank you so much Lorryn and yes hand mixer or brut strength would work equally as well. The trick is to get the egg yolks to expand as much as possible. Actually, two egg whites are easily done by hand with a whisk, I do it all the time – great upper arm work out!
Ciao Chow Linda says
What a wonderful cake. I am a big fan of Ottolenghi’s recipes and of apple cake, so his is a must try.
The cake has a homey comforting style which I so enjoy – perfect with your morning coffee. Ottolenghi is a true inspiration, I love paging through his books.
I too am always on the hunt for the perfect apple cake-I can’t wait to bake this one! I love any cake with olive oil.
It seems as though I am incorporating olive oil into more of my cakes, good olive oil makes such an impact. I look forward to hearing how you like it Janie!
The first apple cake I make will be this one for sure, and I just love your addition of the Grappa soaked raisins!
That’s a tremendous compliment coming from you Marie. Golden raisins plumped with Grappa make everything better.
Cara Vainish says
The cake is in the oven, I cant wait to taste it !
Sending some to my daughter in college.
I love the pictures and the easy instructions.
I am so glad to hear Cara – I look forward to the photos and reviews from the college students!
Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina says
I just love a delicious Italian apple torta! I will try some of your ingredients the next time that I prepare my recipe; I like the idea of the raisins. Great time of year for this delightful Italian treat! Takes me back to Italy just thinking about it.
I had not thought about it Roz, but it does remind me of Autumn in Italy. This torta brings together some of my favorite ingredients – olive oil, lemon, vanilla and apples. What could be better. Thank you for your lovely comment!
I love moist apple cakes such as this one! Makes me long for a lazy afternoon, sitting by a fireplace while sipping a hot coffee and munching on this delicious cake!
You paint such a idyllic picture of a fall afternoon with this simple yet comforting apple cake. Thank you for such a lovely comment Marisa.
High Holidays are here again. Your apple cake will travel well (also again) from Pienza to Firenze for a pot luck. That is, unless I test too many of the grappa raisins while prepping.
Chag Samech Carol, a sweet year to you and your family. Those grappa raisins are tempting, try a spoonful on some fresh ricotta. So glad that you are preparing the cake again….
Carlo Mainardi says
Paula, I made this for Kathy’s birthday. Didn’t have golden raisins so I used common Sunkist. Didn’t have a 9 inch springform (have 8” and 10”) so I used the 10. Used 2 eggs plus one white.
Came out great.
Paula Barbarito-Levitt says
Improvisation is the key to knowing your way around the kitchen Carol, bravo and Tanti Auguri to Kathy. Nice to see your name pop up in my inbox.