The other day, I was thumbing through some magazines and came across a Tuscan Apple Cake recipe. I knew I needed a quick dessert for the 4th of July and this recipe looked easy to make. The next day, as I gathered a few of the ingredients - I knew it had butter and 2 granny apples - I couldn't find the recipe. I looked at all the magazines we had in the kitchen and couldn't find it. It wasn't in Real Simple, Bon Appetit, or Foodies of New England. I searched the house and finally came upon a Tastes of Italia magazine from February 2013. At the top of the magazine it said, "Take a Trip to the Rolling Hills of Tuscany". I'm still not sure how I ended up with this magazine, but I found the recipe.
What I liked about the recipe was the simplicity of the cake and the flavors that complemented it. The topping was made of almonds, sugar and lemon peel. The cake was very plain and there were only two apples in the cake. As I was making the recipe, my head was already filled with ideas...Could I add cinnamon? What if I used blueberries? Or maybe some different nuts? Oh, all the things I can do with a simple recipe.
Outside of grinding the almonds, I had the cake together and in the oven in less that 15 minutes. I don't know what it is, but there is nothing better than the smell of a cake cooking in the oven, even if it is 85 degrees outside. In 40 minutes the cake was done and I couldn't wait to taste it.
After a paella dinner with friends (yes, I missed the photo opportunity on that recipe), we brewed some coffee and cut the cake. The top was a little loose, almost as if we sprinkled sugar on the cake rather than have baked it in. The apple cake was light and moist with a thin layer of apples through the center. It was the perfect dessert, not overly sweet and just enough as an after dinner dessert.
The next time I make this cake, there are a few combinations I would like to try:
- Blueberries with pecans and lemon peel (zest)-or
- Dried cherries with pistachios and orange peel (zest)-or
- Fresh blackberries with walnuts and lime peel (zest)-or
- Raisins with walnuts, orange rind and a touch of cinnamon -or
- Chocolate chips with hazelnuts and orange peel (zest)
There are endless possibilities, or I could stick to the basics and make a Tuscan Apple Cake. Enjoy!
Tuscan Apple Cake
- 1 cup of almonds, ground
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- Lemon peel from 1 whole lemon
- 6 tablespoons of sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup of butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1-1/3 cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 2 granny apples, quartered and sliced thin
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8 or 9 inch round cake pan. Line with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, mix the ground almonds, 1/2 cup of sugar and lemon peel. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer. Beat the eggs and sugar for one minute on high.
4. Add the butter and beat for another minute. Add the vanilla and incorporate.
5. Add the flour and baking powder and beat until well blended.
6. Pour into cake pan and place the apple on top, pushing them down into the batter.
7. Once the apples are covering the top, sprinkle with the sugar and nut mixture.
8. Press down slightly to pack the topping onto the cake.
9. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
10. Allow to cool on a rack. When taking the cake out of the pan, cover with a plate as the topping tends to be loose.
Serve warm or cooled.