Italian Apple Torta (Torta di Mele)

Italian Apple Torta
a beautiful apple torte perfect for autumn!

Italian Apple Torte

When you think of Italian cuisine and the beautiful Italian countryside, many foods come to mind:  pasta, garlic, Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, lemons, and olives . . . but few of us outside of Italy think of apples when we consider the foods from Italy!  Yet Italy is the top producer of apples in all of Europe and the 5th apple-producing country in the world!  Italian Apple Torta (Torta di Mele) will forever help you remember the importance of apples in Italy’s cuisine!

Italy and Apples!

The heart of the Italy’s apple production is in Northern Italy, where my family lives, the region where the higher elevation altitudes (up to 3,000 feet above sea level) and unique micro-climatic and soil conditions offer idylic natural conditions for the cultivation of fragrant, crunchy and uniquely colorful apples.  For over 2,000 years, Italian farmers have cultivated apples that thrive in Italy’s elevated alpine valleys and foothills of the Alps where the weather is cold enough to grow delicious, high-quality apples, unlike Southern Italy where the weather is continually warm and perfect for growing lemons.

The amount of apple orchards is astonishing in Northern Italy — orchard after orchard after orchard fill the landscape, especially in Emilia Romagna’s Po Valley and Appenine Mountains and throughout the other northern regions of Veneto, Piemonte, Campagna and Trentino.  From the early, cooler days of autumn until spring, apple crops flourish in Italy!  Golden Delicious apples are the leading varietal produced in Italy.

Italian Apple Recipe Traditions

Northern Italy lies just south of Austria, and so it’s cuisine has quite a strong, historical influence from Germany and Austria (and actually in the language as well)!  As a result of this location, there is a variety of apple-based recipes for sweets such as strudel and apple cakes, to more savory dishes such as stuffed pastas, including the Christmas lasagna, “Lasagna dal Fornel”, a layered pasta dish in which shredded apples, dried fruits, and nuts replace the customary tomato sauce and cheese.  Apples are also creatively added to Northern Italy’s famous risottos!  In fact, excellent Apple Strudels are prepared by Northern Italians!

Apple cider, often called the “wine of the poor”, is traditionally served at Northern Italian Baptisms and weddings. The annual Festa della Mele is held every September to commerorate and celebrate Italy’s annual apple harvest.
Yet similar to all fruit, Italians generally enjoy apples at the end of a meal, either eaten as a freshly cut, raw apple with a chunk of cheese such as creamy Fontina, or enjoyed in a cake (torta).

The Traditional Italian Apple Torta (Torta di Mele)

This wonderful Italian Apple Torta (Torta di Mele) is delicious, packed with sweet, delicate apple flavor, is simple to prepare, and is one of my favorite Italian desserts with a focus on apples shining through a lightly sweetened torte!
Incredibly rustic, yet elegant at the same time . . . making an impressive dessert for autumn entertaining.  Isn’t that true about all Italian cuisine? Even though Americans prefer apple desserts in both summer and fall, this torte is especially suited for autumn when apples are in season and the aroma of apples and cinnamon perfume our homes with the exotic scents that we associate with autumn, rain, comfort, and warmth.  A perfect fall dessert when apples are at their peak of flavor.

For this recipe, the lemon zest is an essential ingredient to enhance the apple flavor . . .   I also added a bit of cinnamon for a more “German” flare for my German husband, and some Amaretto to make it truly Italian!  Be extra careful not to overmix the batter when you combine all of the ingredients . . . beating only until just combined to avoid developing the gluten that results in a “tough” cake. Serve with a sweet dessert wine, such as a Picolit from Friuli, a Vino Santo from Trention, or a Torcolato from Veneto.  For those who prefer coffee with dessert, I would highly recommend a delicious caffe’ latte made from Italian espresso!

Italian Apple Torte
pure simplicity and deliciousness
Italian Apple Torte
chunks of apple fill the inside of the torte

Italian Apple Torta

Italian Apple Torta

30 minutes

1 hour, 10 minutes

What You Need:

  • 1 cup Butter
  • 4 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 2 ¼ cups Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 4 Jumbo Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Amaretto Liquer
  • ½ tsp. Lemon Zest
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream,
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Thoroughly butter and dust with flour a 9” springform pan tapping the pan to remove excess flour.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each egg.
  6. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes until pale lemon yellow in color, creamy, and thickened.
  7. Turn the speed down; gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl.
  8. Still beating on low speed, add lemon zest, vanilla and Amaretto until blended; increase speed to medium for 2 more minutes.
  9. Peel, quarter, core and slice apples into 1/2" wide slices.
  10. Cut half of the apple slices into small chunks; fold these into the batter.
  11. Pour the batter into prepared springform pan; shake gently or use a spatula to smooth the surface of the batter.
  12. Arrange the remaining apples slices, core side down, on the top of the batter in circles over the entire surface with edges slightly overlapping. The arrangement of the apples should resemble the rays of the sun or a rose in full bloom. The apples should be close together with very little batter shown.
  13. Brush the apples and batter with melted butter.
  14. Generously sprinkle apples and batter with the 3 Tbsp. sugar.
  15. Place in center of hot oven and bake for 70 - 90 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and the top of the cake is golden brown. The cake is done when it tests barely moist with a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake and apples are lightly browned.
  16. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes; then remove sides of the springform pan and cool cake completely.
  17. Dust powdered sugar with cinnamon all over the cake.
  18. Optional: Serve with a glaze or whipped cream.
  19. For the Glaze:
  20. Whisk together powdered sugar, heavy cream, apple cider and cinnamon to create a thin glaze.
  21. Pass the glaze around to guests or serve individual slices of cake on top of a pool of glaze.

A BIG SHOUT OUT to my friend Val, from More Than Burnt Toast who baked this apple torta with magnificent results. Please visit her blog and read her comments and view her photos of her Italian Apple Torta (and tell her Roz sent ya!)

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Beautiful apple cake! Yes, apples aren’t thought of when we think of Italian food but my mother in law makes a fabulous apple studel which is common in Northern Italy.

  2. says

    So interesting that Italy is the top provider of apples in Europe. Great reminder, too, that in every country, each region has its specialties and strengths. I feel more educated now! And am feeling lucky that I’ve got an elegant torta recipe requiring a touch of Italian Amaretto and a hint of German cinnamon.

  3. says

    This looks and sounds fantastic! Definitely adding it to my ‘must-make’ list this fall. Would be great with Nova Scotia’s Honeycrisp apples.

  4. says

    Apples from Trentino Alto Adige (an Italian northen region) are famous everywhere in Europe. May be they are not known in the States, but they are really delicious.
    Apple pie is the biggest example of apples’ use in cuisine. There are a lot of version for this cake and it is really difficult to find a cake that is not good.
    I like your apple pie very much!
    Ilaria recently posted..Pici all’aglioneMy Profile

  5. says

    Roz, I was thrilled to see that you joined up with Sunday Supper again this week. I adore apple desserts, and as always, you aced this Italian version! Hope we can one day eat a slice together with a glass of wine! xo

    • says

      Can you believe that it is October 20th and I’m just now getting to answer your comment Liz? Crazy busy, my mom just arrived too and we’re unpacking a trailer-full of things on top! I love SS and hope that I can participate more IF things ever slow down . . . that my be when I retire!

      xo
      Roz
      Roz recently posted..Cheesy Asiago Artichoke & Spinach DipMy Profile

  6. heather whitbread says

    Do you have a recipe for the Christmas Apple Lasagna, “Lasagna dal Fornel” That you mention at the top? I tried typing it in but can’t find a link! I’d love to try a dessert lasagna and this sounds as though it would be yummy!

  7. says

    Hey Roz – we missed you! Fantastic apple cake and you did a marvelous job explaining the history of apples in Italy ( so proud to be Italian) – just LOVED it! Also, I love drinking Vino Santo with this cake too, don’t you?
    Warmly, Anna

    • says

      Thanks so much Karen. It is a pretty torta and I’d also like to layer and fan out some thin slices of apples too the next time I bake it.

      Roz

  8. says

    What a wonderful torta! I love apple desserts, and this one sounds wonderful. Each of my aunts and my grandmothers had her own version – similar, but truly unique. Funny, but when I saw this post I immediately got to thinking about all of them – long gone now. It was like a trip back in time there for a little bit just now. Thanks, Roz, for starting my day off beautifully. Buona domenica a te!

  9. says

    Hi Roz,
    excuse my english but I’m using the Google translator …
    This apple pie is spectacular, I saw it yesterday and immediately I made it with a few tweaks to make it fit me. And ‘liked very much to all!
    Thanks for joining my readers, replacement with pleasure, I really like your blog!
    See you soon,
    Barbara

  10. Katherine says

    Hi! I am so excited to make this traditional apple cake, especially sine I am just back from Florence where I had a beautiful slice of this cake. I would like to know about the butter for the recipe…is it salted or unsalted? Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Katherine, I’d love to write back to you directly but there isn’t a link connected to your name or an email, so I hope you receive this message. I use salted butter; I realize that some bakers say that unsalted should be used in baking, but both my husband and I believe that it enhances the flavor of the recipe ingredients. This recipe doesn’t call for a lot of butter, so if it were to call for a lot, such as one whole stick of butter, well than unsalted would be better. But for a few Tablespoons, salted butter is perfectly fine. Plus, this was delicious! I hope that you enjoy.

      My food blogger friend, Val, from ‘More Than Burnt Toast’ also baked it with rave reviews at this link where you can read her comments and see her photos: http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/2013/09/rustic-tuscan-apple-cake-to-usher-in.html

      Thank you for stopping by and if I can help you with any Italian recipe, please let me know!
      Ciao ciao,
      Roz
      Roz recently posted..Raspberry and Lemon Curd Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast #SundaySupperMy Profile

      • Katherine says

        HI Roz, am I reading the recipe wrong? It calls for 1 cup of butter so do you think I should use salted or unsalted butter? Thank you!

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