"My mother-in-law, Angela, has a ‘recipe book': a large hardcover agenda from 1981 where she writes down recipes she likes or wants to try. They're scattered randomly, scrawled on the days of the week where you would normally record birthdays, appointments and reminders. It's rather impractical because you have to flick through 365 days to find the scribbled recipe you're looking for, but she has been using it diligently for nearly forty years. This apple cake was the first recipe she wrote down in it, and although she doesn't remember anymore where it came from, it was one that she made often when Marco was a child.
I love it because it's quite different from the usual Tuscan apple cake, which is a simple cake topped with a single layer of sliced apples. I suspect this version is not even Tuscan at all, as it requires quite a good amount of butter. The cake on the bottom is rather dense and crumbly – a support for all the apples that melt down into a surprisingly thin layer, topped with a veil of butter and sugar. It's absolutely delicious just out of the oven, still warm, and I would say always does better with a bit of warming up even the next day or so. The fact that Angela calls this cake ‘la torta di mele e panna'– the cake with apple and cream – to distinguish it from a regular apple cake tells you that you should always serve this with freshly whipped cream." - Emiko Davies.
200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
150g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tsp baking powder
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
650g (about 4) apples, peeled and sliced
Splash of brandy or rum
80g butter, softened
50g plain (all-purpose) flour
250 mL (1 cup) freshly whipped cream, to serve.
Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
For the cake, combine the butter, sugar, egg, flour, baking powder, lemon zest and juice and a pinch of salt until creamy. Press into the prepared cake tin. Layer over the apple slices and sprinkle them with brandy.
For the topping, rub or mix together the butter, sugar and flour in a bowl. Top the apples with this mixture and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the apples have cooked down and become tender.
Allow to cool (or eat warm, my preference) and serve with some softly whipped cream.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Tortellini at Midnight by Emiko Davies published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $52.00 and is available in stores nationally.
Photo Credits: Food Photographer: © Lauren Bamford. Lifestyle Photographer: © Emiko Davies.