Torta di Mele – Italian Apple Cake

Torta di Mele, aka classic Italian apple cake, is a dessert all Italian nonnas make! It’s soft and fluffy, and easy to make with just 6 ingredients!

I’m so excited to share with you one of my favourite childhood treats, my nonna’s torta di mele, aka a super classic Italian rustic apple cake!

I’m pretty confident there’s some sort of apple cake (or apple pie, or apple crumble!) in all our childhood memories.

I grew up with my grandma’s apple cake (and my mum’s classic tiramisu), and whenever I smell it around, it winds back the clock to my sweetest childhood memories.

My mum, who’s from Sicily and recently became nonna, loves making this cake, but she never measures the ingredients and just does things by eye.

Needless to say, I had a pretty hard time remaking it perfectly at home in England until recently.

I finally asked her to grab a pen and write down all the ingredients whilst making the millionth apple cake of her life, and *BAAM*, I can finally make my childhood favourite cake wherever I am.

Torta di Mele Ingredients

Although every nonna in Italy has her own super-secret ingredient or method for making it, the basic recipe calls for just 8 basic everyday ingredients:

  • apples
  • eggs
  • flour
  • sugar
  • butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • vanilla
  • lemon zest
  • baking powder

Most apple cake recipes call for butter, but this dairy-free version of apple cake with oil instead of butter.

I like to load this moist apple cake with delicious, crisp and slightly tart apples with a firm texture, but sweeter varieties would work well too.

Italian apple cake on wood board next to apples, cinnamon sticks and a small plate with a slice of cake

Here are a few suggestions on my favourite ingredients to use when making this classic Italian dessert:

BUTTER OR EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

I like to make my apple cake with a light extra-virgin-olive oil ( lightly fruity EVOO works well too) instead of butter.

But if you don’t like the flavour of olive oil (although is extremely mild here) you can add the same amount of butter in lieu of olive oil.

APPLES

You can use your favourite apples when making this apple pie, I prefer apples that keep a crispy texture even after they are baked and are overall not too sweet.

I usually go for Honeycrisp apples, with a sweet slightly tart refreshing flavour or Cox apples, juicy with a mild spicy flavour.

FLOUR

I like to use a mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour.

I first measure it then sift through a fine strainer. However, you can also opt for the traditional version and use only all-purpose flour.

I have not tried it yet with gluten-free flour, so if you give it a go, please share your experience in the comments.

SUGAR

I use organic fine demerara sugar, for a sweet-not-too sweet, slightly nutty flavour, but the classic version of apple cake is made with regular white sugar (you can also substitute with fine light brown sugar).

Extra Flavors For Your Apple Cake:

Nuts: for an extra nutty flavour, fold into your batter ¼ cup ( 60 g) of toasted pine nuts or almond flakes, hazelnuts and pistachio work well too.
Cinnamon: although Italian apple cake doesn’t traditionally call for cinnamon, if you’re a big fan of the apple + cinnamon combo, add 1 tsp of cinnamon powder into your batter.

How To Make Classic Apple Olive Oil Cake 

This rustic torta alle mele is super easy to make, and only requires one-bowl and a mere 10 minutes of preparation and about 30-40 minutes in the oven.

This recipe is absolutely fool-proof, and I mean it. It’s hard to fail with this apple cake even if you are a novice baker.

torta di mele (apple cake) on wood board next to apples and a small plate with a slice of cake.

Step 1: Mix the eggs and sugar until pale, followed by the olive oil and vanilla extract.

Step 2: Slowly incorporate the flour, followed by a pinch of salt and baking powder. Do not overmix the batter, otherwise,  it will result in a dense, gummy and chewy cake. 

Step 3: Add in the apples and lemon zest, and give the batter a final quick stir.

Step 4: Fold your apple cake mixture into a prepared pan and pop it in a hot oven. After 10 minutes your kitchen will smell absolutely delicious!

Step 5: Bake the cake for approximately 30-40 minutes. To check if the cake is done insert a toothpick into the middle, if it comes out clean, then the cake is ready.

Step 6: Allow the cake to rest until is completely cool, then sprinkle with confectioner sugar (not absolutely necessary), and serve yourself a big slice of fluffy, moist apple cake.

HOW TO SERVE TORTA DI MELE

In Italy, we love it cold, lightly dusted with icing sugar served with a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast, or as a dessert at the end of a meal. Traditionally it’s served on its own, but a delicious scoop of cream ice cream (or some custard) on top is always welcomed.

CAN YOU FREEZE APPLE CAKE?

Absolutely! Let the cake cool completely, then I like to cut it into slices and place them individually in freezer-friendly bags or containers. You can store apple cake in the freezer up to 3 months, then defrost it in the fridge overnight, or at room temperature for a couple of hours.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram tag @thepetitecook!

Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!

This rustic Italian apple cake is a traditional treat all Italian nonnas make! Totally fool-proof, loaded with apples, deliciously fluffy and dairy-free.

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time30 mins

Total Time40 mins

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: Allergy-friendly

Serving: 12

Calories: 237kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 120 gr sugar (or fine demerara sugar)
  • 120 ml lightly-flavoured extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or half vanilla pod, scraped)
  • 200 gr all-purpose flour sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • tsp sea salt
  • 800 gr Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes (about 3 medium apples)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest

To decorate:

  • 1 tbsp confectioner sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180C/360F and adjust a baking rack onto the middle shelf. Grease and dust with flour (or line with parchment paper) a large 9-inch baking pan and set aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the eggs and the sugar. Beat the mixture with an electric whisker until light and pale, then gently whisk in the olive oil, followed by the vanilla, and mix until all the ingredients are combined.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, baking powder and sea salt. Mix until well combined and set aside.

  • Slowly incorporate the flour into the batter, mixing until just combined. Sprinkle the baking powder and a pinch on salt over the batter and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

  • Fold in the chopped apples and lemon zest, and mix until just combined.

  • Pour the apple cake batter into the prepared baking pan and bake in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes. To check if the cake is ready, insert a toothpick in the middle, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.

  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool and gently remove the apple cake from the pan.

  • Dust the cake all over with confectioner sugar and serve at room temperature. 

Notes

Flour: For a more rustic apple cake, use 100gr (3.5 ounces) of all-purpose flour and 100 gr of whole wheat flour.
Butter: If you wish to use butter, replace the extra-virgin olive oil with 120 gr (4 oz) melted and cooled butter.
Storage tips: Store your cake in an airtight container in a cool spot, for up to 3 days.  You can cut into slices and freeze individually in freezer bags up to 3 months. 

Nutrition

Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 117mg | Potassium: 99mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 76IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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