Perhaps we should have started with an appetiser recipe. But that would imply that we have a plan. Instead we’re starting with something quite random, our first recipe is an apple cake. But not any apple cake, an Italian apple cake. In fact, we do have a plan, sort of. We are setting out to bust some British myths about Italian cuisine that make our skin itch every time we come across them.
Myth number one: Italians don’t eat tiramisù for dessert every day. In fact they almost never do. There’s a huge number of Italian cakes, sweets and puddings, perhaps not as famous , but certainly as good as tiramisù or even more, and which Italians cook and eat more often.
Since it’s November, here is a classic autumn recipe perfect with afternoon tea or for breakfast. I baked it last time I was in Italy, and again today and it is always a great success. The recipe is from a series of books published by La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, with some spicy modifications.
ITALIAN APPLE CAKE RECIPE
200g plain flour
50g unsalted butter
2 dl milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of grated nutmeg
grated lemon zest of ½ organic lemon
2 tablespoon bread crumbs (or crumbled low fat biscuits or crackers)
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 170C (Gas 3).
Grate the zest of half a lemon and put it in a little bowl, we’ll use it later. Fill a big bowl with cold water and add the juice from the lemon. Peel the apples and cut them into thin slices. Put the slices in the bowl with the lemon water so that they don’t turn brown while you prepare the dough and they pick up a lemony flavour.
Put the eggs and sugar in another bowl and beat on medium speed until they become soft and frothy. Sift the flour in the mixture and add the milk, lemon zest and the baking powder. At this point we’ve also added some wintry spices: ground cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and some vanilla extract, to give the cake a Christmas twist. Mix until the mixture is smooth.
Grease the baking tin (I used a 26 cm diameter) using part of the butter, sprinkle it with bread crumbs and pour in the mixture. Now lay the apple slices radially by pushing them carefully into the dough. Sprinkle with the remaining flaked butter.
Bake in the preheated oven for one hour or until golden. Leave the cake to cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar. Enjoy responsibly.