Angelic Apple Cake
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
There is a cake that almost every mother and grandmother in Italy makes (the sister of the yoghurt pot cake) which is one of the simplest cakes of all, and that cake is Torta di Mele.
It is a soft, simple, sweet sponge dotted with pieces of foamy and fragrant apple, and with a slightly crunchy topping. It’s the kind of cake you don’t want to mess with, or there will be tears. It’s so humble and homely and nostalgic, that to try and tart it up would be as unthinkable as forcing granny to wear fishnets.
I had a lengthy conversation with a Sardinian colleague about Torta di Mele in which he admitted that he did indeed cry when his mum put chocolate chips in it once, which shows just how holy this cake is.
There are, of course, a million different versions. This is my favourite one. It is impossibly sweet and uncomplicated, light and yet moist and deliciously crunchy. It tastes of a carefree childhood. Eat for breakfast, with some yoghurt and a strong coffee.
The water sounds odd, but makes for an extraordinarily light and moist result. If you don’t have fizzy you can use still, but I’m convinced fizzy makes it a little lighter and crisper.
Note: like the yoghurt pot cake, this cake is usually made using a similar generic pot, or a small cup. You can use either a standard cup measure, a tea cup or a 125ml/150ml pot, it makes little difference, as long as you use the same vessel for all the ingredients.
I always make this in a Bundt ring tin which measures 9 inch/23cm wide
2 cups of caster sugar
3 cups of plain flour
1 cup of sunflower oil
2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 cup of sparkling water
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
300g peeled and diced apple
Preheat the oven to 180.
Grease your bundt tin well, and then dust lightly with flour.
Peel your apples. You can leave the skin on if you’re feeling really lazy, but I’m lazy and I do peel them. Core them and cut them into small pieces, no bigger than a raspberry, more like a blueberry.
Squeeze over the lemon juice and grate over the zest, and toss them all together.
Measure all the other ingredients together into a stand mixer or a bowl and then whisk until you have a smooth batter. Add the apples and stir to combine.
Decant the batter into your prepared tin and if you like, sprinkle a little extra sugar on the top for extra crunch.
Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Enjoy, angelically.