From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Fortunately, those of us who love Italian cooking are just a book, or flick of the dial, away from the recipes of Giada De Laurentis, Lidia Bastianich and Mary Ann Esposito. I can't devote a lot of time to television, so when I watch, I tend to favor the more straightforward approach of the cooking shows on PBS. Mary Ann Esposito is the host of Ciao Italia on PBS and her show is the longest-running cooking program in America. I love her recipes and the torta I'm featuring today is just one of several apple cakes that she has featured on her programs. Her recipes are easy to follow and, more importantly, they work. I must jump in here to tell you that the problems I'm about to relate are completely unrelated to Mary Ann's recipe. Murphy decided to camp in my kitchen for the day and, as a result, anything that could go wrong did. My first cake, and, yes there was more than one, refused to come out of the tube pan I thought I had generously greased. It would not budge, even when I threatened it with language that had all the lovely women of my childhood rolling in their graves. Once I admitted defeat and decided to move on, I switched to a springform pan. I knew that a cake made in a tubeless pan would need more time in the oven, but I wanted to make sure the cake would release for cooling. It had been in the oven for about 15 minutes when my nose registered the acrid smell of burnt toast. Turns out it wasn't toast. It was my cake. The spring on my pan spontaneously released and the batter began a lava-like flow onto the floor on my oven. Third time is, of course, a charm, even with Murphy hanging around. I must say this is a really lovely cake and it is delightful when served warm. While I wish my adventure had gone more smoothly, I found no fault with the recipe. Just remember to grease your pan really, really, really well and watch your cooking time if you decide to use a springform pan. I do hope you'll give this cake a try. The aroma of apples and cinnamon brings a hint of fall to the summer kitchen and the cake is a perfect introduction to the new season. Here's how the apple cake is made.
Torta di Mele - Tuscan Apple Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Mary Ann Esposito via Ciao Italia
4 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2-1/4 cups sugar
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
1/3 cup orange liqueur
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan or a 9-inch springform pan.
2) Combine apples, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
3) Using an electric mixer, combine remaining sugar, flour, baking powder, oil, eggs, orange liqueur, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
4) Pour one third of batter into prepared, top with half of the sliced apples. Cover with another third of batter. Top with remaining apples and finish with a final layer of batter.
5) Bake for 1 hour or until a cake skewer comes out clean. Cool before cutting. Cake may be sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
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