Sicilian apple cake

Mamma broke her wrist in July and has been staying with my sister Barbara whilst she recovers. Although it is terrible that mamma broke her wrist, it has given me an opportunity to spend time with both my mother and sister together. Barbara got married when I was 13, so I treasure the times we spent together before then, like in the photo below, taken at Seaford beach in the early 1970s where we used to go on weekends during summer. That was in the days when you could drive your car into the tea-tree foreshore right at the edge of the sand.

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Barbara has also been cooking more italian food now that mamma is staying her. I went to visit a few weeks back and had a slice of Sicilian Apple Cake that she had made, with a coffee. It was very very good. Inspired, I went home and looked up several recipes online and selected the one that looked similar to how Barbara’s cake had tasted. I made it the next day, modifying quantities and ingredients to suit my taste. It is made of layers of apple, batter, grappa-soaked sultanas and pine nuts, with lemon zest throughout. It tasted fabulous and the most difficult part was not difficult at all, just time consuming (peeling, coring and slicing the apples).
sicilian applecake-italy on my mind

When I next went to visit mamma, I told Barbara that I had made a Sicilian Apple Cake and asked her which recipe she used. She pulled out her folder of recipes and started to tell me how she had modified the recipe – decreased the sugar, increased the lemon, omitted the vanilla, changed the layering and soaked the sultanas in grappa. They were exactly the same modifications I had made!! We laughed so much.

You can also make this cake gluten free by substituting plain flour for the gluten free type. You may need to cook it a few minutes extra if using GF flour.

Sicilian Apple Cake

  • Time: 2 hours (including baking)
  • Print

50 g (1/3 cup) walnuts, toasted
120 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 medium sized Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 medium lemon zest and juice
150 g (1 cup) plain flour (or gluten free plain flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 large sized eggs
200g (just under 1 cup) sugar
100 ml (just under 1/2 cup) milk
40g (1/4 cup) sultanas soaked in grappa, brandy or warm water
20g (1/8 cup) pinenuts
1 tblsp brown sugar
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
icing (powdered) sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170C (330F). Line the base and sides of a 20 cm (9inch) round tin with baking paper. Pour a little of the melted butter into base of tin and sprinkle toasted walnuts. Toss the sliced apples in a bowl with the lemon juice and zest and set aside.

In seperate bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix then add the milk and remaining melted butter. Drain the sultanas.

Pour 1/3 of the batter over the walnuts, then arrange 1/3 of the apples slices on top. Sprinkle 1/3 the sultanas and 1/3 of the pine nuts. Repeat the layers until the batter, apple slices, sultana and pine nuts are used up. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon for last and bake for about one hour ten minutes. The top should be golden and the cake firm to touch.

Cool in the tin and when it is cool, turn out and dust with icing sugar.

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I have been listening to the band Verdena from Bergamo, Italy lately. They play quite heavy alternative music. I love this song and the clip which is reminiscent of the movie “2001 A space odyssey”

Recipes of other desserts/cakes made with apple on italyonmymind.com.au:
Italian apple cake – a Tessa Kiros recipe
Livia’s apple strudel – our family recipe

27 comments on “Sicilian apple cake

  1. Hi Paola, this looks beautiful. I love these cakes you make with apples and pears and sultanas. I think they’re my favourites of all your recipes. I thought you and your mum might enjoy listening to a band that I have loved for many years now. They’re from the US, Pink Martini. They sing in many languages, some of their songs are very evocative and romantic. This is a link to what I think is a song sung in Neopolitan http://youtu.be/xvi4jKwHpC0. And this is another of my favourites Unna notte de Napoli http://youtu.be/7qMYif4PeHI. I saw them live a few years ago and it was one of the best concerts I’d ever been to. Just magical. Anyway, hope you and your mum like these. Sally x

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    • Thanks Sally that is so sweet of you – they are both great songs. I will make sure I play them to mamma next time I visit her at my sister’s. I has never heard of Pink Martini before – they are terrific! Much appreciated X

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  2. Looks fabulous, and amazing that you made the exact same modifications! great minds! I bet the second thing Verdena did after they got those masks off was hoe into that cake on the table. It might have been a Sicilian apple cake, or at least I bet they wished it was!

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  3. Paola… As I stumbled across your blog once again, I thought to myself…why don’t I visit her more often? It seems that I’m missing out on some really wonderful posts. And then it hit me…I’m not signed up to receive your emails! I’m all signed up now, so I shouldn’t miss anymore posts from you!

    What a lovely cake. It looks so moist, and so delicious!! I just love your header. It is so happy.

    I hope your mamma heals quickly. ❀

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  4. Ciao Paola,
    I baked this cake at 7 in the morning, and between three of us at home it was finished by 3pm. By far my favourite cake yet! Absolutely love all of your recipes, thank you πŸ™‚ xx

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  5. Paola, in the last month I made this apple cake, and last night I made the chocolate hazelnut tart and everyone that has had some has loved it!!! I have several recipes on your blog and not only have they tasted great, but have been a real joy to cook because of the stories as well. It was only last night making the chocolate tart that I realized I had never commented to thank you! So thank you so much, I love your blog!!

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    • Hi Nicole, I am so glad you are enjoying the recipes and my blog posts as well. I love writing them and sharing my cooking adventures and it makes me so happy to know that people out there are enjoying them too. it makes it all worthwhile. Thank you so much X

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  6. Paola,
    I made this cake yesterday and while turned out quite yummy, I have a couple of questions for you. You say 200 gm of sugar is just under 1 cup but that 150 gm of flour is 1 cup. I used a scant cup of sugar and 1 cup + of flour, but are your measurements in grams truly correct? More sugar than flour? Also, I could not fit four apples in the cake. Mine were pretty large so I used only 3 and still I could not cram all those slices in! Should each of the three layers of apples be single layers or are the apple slices piled up on one another?

    Thanks for sharing. I do want to make this again with your clarification.

    Laurel

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    • Hi Laurel, thanks for your comments. I always make my cakes with grams (not cups) so estimate that for others who might. Yes there is more sugar than flour in this one. The apples within each of the layers are piled up if needed but spread on each layer evenly. You must have super big apples or else a small cake mould? I do hope it goes well next time.
      Paola

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      • I will follow the gram measurements next time (although it was fine this time so it is a forgiving recipe. I used a 9-inch round pan. I’ll layer up all of the apples next time and see. I feared it would be too “wet” with all that fruit. Always fun to taste-test the results. My husband refused to let me bring the leftovers to work, so I guess it was a success! using his “good” grappa didn’t hurt.

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  7. Hi Paola,
    I too am guilty of reading your blog and making your recipes.. and not once have i said thank you!
    So firstly, a very big THANK YOU!
    I love reading the stories that go with your recipes, you take me back to my childhood. I have a Macedonian background, and our neighbours of 20 years, were Italian. There was many a meal shared, with limited conversation in English.. not that that was a barrier for anyone, like all good ethnics, everyone just spoke over each other and enjoyed the sound of their own voices! However, there was an absolute abundance of food and sharing and fun, and your blog takes me back there every time I read one of your beautiful stories.
    Thank you to you and your family for sharing your stories with us! We are now happily building those food memories with our children!
    Suzana

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    • thanks for your kind words Suzana, I love writing my blog posts and it makes it that much better that people like you are also enjoying that and it is bringing back memories. Shared meals are sure a treasure, I love that we can now so easily capture and share these memories. happy cooking xx

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  8. Hi Paola, I made this cake today and it was such a success. My husband is a celiac so I did a GF version and it was not only delicious, but looked just like your pictures. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

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