Well, I think it’s an Italian Apple Cake
This fabulous recipe was my mother’s, which must have persuaded the chef from a small Italian restaurant in Hastings (Kent) to give her. I would guess around the early 70s – it was their regular haunt before Hastings became trendy!
She used to bake it regularly – especially if entertaining, and the smell, when it’s in the oven, still reminds me of those classic 70s fork suppers.
The base is quite a firm sponge cake but moist and buttery at the same time, topped with wafer-thin apple slices and coated in a marmalade syrup. It is as simple as that. I guess the only secret is to use a food processor with a fine cutting blade or a mandolin with an equally fine blade.
It’s somewhere between a sponge cake and a fruit tart. Apart from the wafer-thin apples, your only choices are whether to use thick-cut marmalade or smooth. As you can see, I opt for the thick-cut homemade variety. My mum used only cooking apples, but I tend to use half and half – crisp tart apples such as Pink Lady are ideal.
The beauty of this apple cake is it’s ready in 35-40 minutes, so it is perfect if you have guests and need to make something special without the fuss. Serve it with cream, ice cream or thick yoghurt, but my favourite is mascarpone or crème fraîche whisked with a little vanilla paste.
More baking inspiration here.
Italian Apple Cake
- 1 24 cm loose-bottom tart tin
- 1 Food processor fitted with a very fine slicing blade or a mandolin again with a very fine blade
- 5 med apples (2 cooking and 3 eating) I use Bramley and Pink Lady apples
- 115 g marmalade with or without peel, depending on your preference. old fashioned dark Seville marmalade works particularly well
- 2 tbsp water
- 170 g all purpose flour use self raising flour if your prefer but omit the baking powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 85g g butter
- 75 g light brown sugar
- 2 small eggs – lightly whisked
- pinch salt
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c
- Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl. Core and slice the apples as finely as possible. Easier with a food processor fitted with a fine slicing blade, but a mandolin works well. Ensure the apples are coated in the lemon juice to stop them from turning brown. Set aside.
- Warm the marmalade and water in a small saucepan (ideally a milk pan that will pour easily). Be careful not to boil; stir well. You want to dissolve the marmalade into the water and add more or less water depending on your marmalade – you want a thick syrupy consistency.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add the eggs, salt and then flour and bring it together to form a stiff cake-like mixture.
- Spread the mixture evenly into the tart tin. You don't need to push it up the sides of the tin – keep the cake mixture even. Don't overwork it!
- Layer your paper-thin apples on top of the mixture, starting outside and working your way to the centre. Coat with a little marmalade mixture, and then add a second layer of apples. Finish with another coating of marmalade. If you have enough, go to three layers but leave space at the top of the tin – the sponge rises well!!
- Cook on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the apples and place a piece of foil over the cake if it starts to brown too quickly.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche or cream.