Classic Italian Apple cake
We often wonder what happiness really is, that feeling of carefreeness that maybe we forgot for too much time. And we look for the answer far away, thinking about what we do not have, instead of understanding all those small things, those lovely gestures which contribute to make our lives special every day.
We think the real happiness would be living in Chelsea or in a small studio flat in Paris, watching the world through the window of our room. The yellow cabs or the bells of Notre Dame which work as alarm clocks, working in that pretty amazing bakery at the corner of the street and starting our working day drinking a cup of coffee while walking down the street reading the last news on the “New York Time” or “Le Figaro” is what we dream or, at least, what my dreams are made of.
Actually, I don’t really know the difference between dreams and happiness, but I definitely know what can make me incredibly happy, what can make me forget any problem or trouble: nothing makes me happier than seeing my family smiling at the openness of daily moments. And, believe me, nothing can make my mum happier than a cake. And, trust me, an amazing Classic Italian Apple Cake does perfectly the job.
A super easy cake, flavored with warming and fall spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, lemon and clementines is what you (and your family) need in rainy autumn days. After the first bite, you’ll fall in love with this delightful dessert: the softness and sweetness of the apples alternated with the crunchiness of the hazelnuts and the sugary bottom will definitely steal your heart.
For the cake batter:
- 1 stick + 1 tbsp (125 grams) unsalted butter
- the zest of 1 lemon
- the juice from 1/2 lemon
- the zest of 2 clementines (you can also use the zest of an orange)
- 3 tbsp (30-40 grams) raisin (optional)
- the juice of one orange (this is necessary only if you’re using raisin, but you can also substitute it with some water)
- 4 eggs (room temperature)
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (190 grams) caster sugar
- 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 medium-sized apple
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- about 4 medium -sized apples
- brown sugar (to be sprinkled on the top of the cake)
- caster sugar
- 3 tbsp (30 grams) toasted and roughly chopped hazelnuts
For the apple ‘roses’ (to garnish):
- peel your apples, cut them into quarters (making sure to remove the internal core) and then into thin slices lengthwise. Place them in a microwave-save bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave them until they become soft, but not mushy, about 2 minutes (timing is based on my 750W microwave so your timing might vary). At this point, arrange your apple slices over a kitchen towel to cool completely and dry a little bit. Take about 4 slices, overlap them and roll them up: in this way you’ll get a beautiful sort of ‘apple rose’. For this recipe, you need about 28-30 apple roses in total. You might need more than 4 apples for this step, it really depends on their size: simply start using 4 apples and, in case they won’t be enough, repeat the same process with as many apples as you need to get 28-30 apple roses.
For the cake batter:
- preheat the oven at 350°F (180°C).
- first thing first, hydrate the raisin: juice one orange (you could also use some water) and add it in a small bowl together with the raisin. Warm it up into the microwave, just till the juice becomes lukewarm. Set that aside for about 10 min. Meanwhile, using your stand mixer or an hand mixer, whisk eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for about 10 minutes: what you’re looking for is your eggs to become light and fluffy and almost triple in volume. While the eggs are whipping up, prepare you aromatized butter: simply, melt the butter into the microwave or on low heat and, as soon as it has melted, add in the lemon and clementines zests and the vanilla extract. Whisk to combine and then set aside.
- now grate the apple: peel it, cut it into quarters (making sure to remove the internal core) and eventually grate it using a food processor or a simple grater. Combine the apple pulp with the lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, flour and salt. Set that aside.
- once the eggs and sugar mixture becomes pail and fluffy, move on adding the aromatized melted butter and gently whisk to combine. Repeat the same process, but this time adding the grated apple. You should end up with a pretty liquid batter at this point: it’s totally fine. Then drain the raisin from the orange juice: as you’ll see, it has puffed up a little bit. Add the sifted dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and baking powder) to the eggs, butter and apple mixture: start by adding 1/2 of the dry ingredients, stir to combine (be always very gentle) and, once the first addition of flour has been completely incorporated, add the remaining dry ingredients, but, before starting stirring, arrange the raisin over the flour, so that when you’ll stir, the raisin will be coated into the flour and, while baking, it won’t fall to the bottom of the cake pan. Gently stir until you get a smooth and velvety batter.
- prepare the cake tin then: butter and dust with granulated sugar a 9” (23 cm) cake pan: the sugar will almost caramelize while baking, making the edges extra crunchy and delicious. Basically you’re buttering and flouring the tin, but using sugar instead of flour. Eventually, pour the cake batter into the tin, level the top and start arranging the apple roses making your way all around the cake. Arrange enough apple roses to get two lines. Eventually, place an apple rose in the really centre of the cake. Sprinkle some roughly chopped hazelnuts on the top of the cake, sprinkle some brown sugar on the top as well and bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 40 minutes. To check if it’s done, simply insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake and, if it comes out clean, it means that the cake is done!
- once baked, let the cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before inverting it over a cooling rack to cool down completely.
According to you, what is the real happiness? I’m looking forward for your answer, and I really hope this cake will be in your “happiness list”. <3
This is my version of an amazing Classic Italian Apple Cake, I’m waiting for yours.
XOXO Cooker Girl.