My Italian tutor is coming to my house for my lesson today and I decided it would be fitting for me to make an Italian cake to have with coffee. Most Italian baked goods aren’t incredibly sweet and I wanted to make sure that what ever I baked would be appealing to P. Personally, nothing is ever too sweet for me, but I too can appreciate a cake that is flavorful without that sugar rush. This cake comes from the Garfagnana Valley in Tuscany. I can only imagine gardens filled with apple trees and nonnas going out to pick their apples to make this cake. I hope that the next time that I eat this cake I’m having a cappuccino and sitting in a caffe in Lucca!
Apple Cake With A Crackly Meringue
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons unbleached flour
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Generous pinch salt
1-1/2 sticks (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Shredded zest of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 large apples (Granny Smith, Gala or Braeburn), peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 large egg white
Place rack in the center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9″ springform. In large bowl mix 2 cups flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar, and salt. With your fingertips rub in butter until crumbly (or use a pastry blender). Remove 1 cup of crumbs and press them into the bottom and about 1/2″ up sides of pan.
Make a well in the remaining crumb mixture. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and remaining 3 tablespoons flour. With a whisk blend this mixture thoroughly without incorporating the crumbs. Then, with a wooden spoon stir in the crumbs until well blended but still a little lumpy. Fold in the apples. Scrape the batter into the pan.
In small bowl beat the egg white until frothy and then beat in the 2 remaining tablespoons sugar. Beat until the whites barely stand in peaks. Spread over the top of the cake.
Bake 65 to 75 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove the sides of pan and finish cooling the cake. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Covered in plastic wrap cake keeps well for 2 days at room temperature, one week in refrigerator. Warm it up a little before serving.
Cake looks best right after baking. If holding in plastic wrap the meringue softens a little, but either way it’s delicious.