torta di mele: apple cake recipe
I remember a school trip around the Peak District in Derbyshire when I was about eight or nine. On the itinerary was a last stop for “high tea”. I had no idea what this entailed and to be honest still don’t quite know the difference between high and afternoon tea. Despite having spent quite some time in Italy where of course coffee is the drink of choice the idea of tea and cake on a sunny afternoon is an English tradition I still hanker after.
Now dont get me wrong, I am sure there are some delicious Le Marche cakes out there but the ones I have tried are a tad dry for my taste so we have had to adapt and this apple cake recipe from Maryberry, it uses the traditional italian ingredients for the “pasty” mix but the addition of apple adds moisture and creates a cake that is perfect for afternoon tea, or breakfast, or after dinner or…
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1 level tsp baking powder
- 225g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 150g butter, melted
- 250g cooking apples, peeled and cored
- 25g flaked almonds
- Beat the the the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, almond extract and melted butter together for a minute or so. spread half the mix on the bottom of a cake tin - 20cm spring sided best - lined with buttered grease-proof paper. layout the cut apples and cover with the rest of the mix and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. cook for about an hour and a half.
Torta al Limone
Torta al Limone: As the temperatures begin to rise in Le Marche the potted lemon trees can be put outside. Down at the coast lemon trees grow quite happily in the ground but as we are in the hills we need to protect them from frost. Funny thing is…my lemons are not lemons as an Italian gardener friend told me – they are cedri! They are grown principally for their thick and aromatic zests and are used to make candied lemon peel. This then explains why when I have asked for lemons from a market stall I’ve been asked ‘do you want them for zesting or for juice?’ What I know as an ordinary lemon is only used for juice and I must admit the zest of my cedri is beautifully strong in flavour and they don’t give much juice.
I have italianised an old recipe for Torta al Limone cheesecake by using ricotta rather than double cream and I find it much lighter. Here I’ve used a plain biscuit base but you can use crushed amaretto biscotti instead.
This desert would be ideal after an Easter feast and may well make an appearance at the end of our Easter meal this weekend.
- 250 g biscuits (digestives or Italian biscotti di amaretti
- 100g butter
- 500g ricotta ( include some mascapone if you want a creamier texture)
- 170ml cream/or full fat milk
- 200g sugar
- zest and juice of 2 large lemons ( or zest of cedri and juice from normal lemons)
- 3 eggs
- Crush the biscuits in a large bowl with the end of a rolling pin
- Melt the butter and mix in the crushed biscuits
- Press the mixture into a cake tin, and let it firm up in the fridge
- Beat the ricotta (or ricotta/mascapone mixture) with the sugar
- Then beat in the eggs. I use a hand held electric mixer.
- Add the cream/milk, lots of lemon or cedri zest and the lemon juice.
- I often check the taste at this point to make sure its nice and lemony! can always add more zest and juice.
- Pour carefully onto the biscuit base and bake in a low oven (150degrees centigrade) for an hour, until the centre is firmish.
- Switch off the oven and leave in for 15 minutes.
- Then allow to cool.
- You can top the finished cheesecake with fresh fruit. Strawberries are coming into season here in le Marche or blueberries or fruits of the forest.
Crescia di Pasqua
Crescia di Pasqua. This typical Le Marche Easter bread is actually so rich that it is more like a cake – a huge cheese filled and rather moreish cake that when baking fills the kitchen with a lovely aroma. It is traditionally eaten at Easter, after the period of Lent when Italians long for some rich food. It is packed full of eggs and the local cheese, Pecorino and can be eaten on its own or with local cold meats and salamis. Many locals will have their secret family recipes passed down through the generations and will bake several breads to give as gifts to friends and family. This is a bread that will also be offered up to the local priest to be blessed.
I have to admit that I made the dough in my bread machine and although a little concerned about the excess moisture from the cheese it turned out just fine and saved me a lot of time. Being English I have to make my hot cross buns and my easter chocolate cake as well as the Le Marche Crescia di Pasqua.
- 6 eggs
- 100ml luke warm milk
- 650g 00 bread flour
- 220g of grated pecorino cheese (or a mix of pecorino/parmesan)
- 160g margarine (or lard)
- 40g dry yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- tsp atleast of pepper
- Place the ingredients in bread machine in the order above and set to dough mode
- Knead the dough well on a floured surface
- Place in a large, round, deep cake tin and allow to rise in a warm place for atleast an hour.
- Bake in a 180 degrees oven for about 50 minutes
- 250 g plain flour (00)
- 100g butter
- 80g sugar
- 1 level tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- Measure the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. Make sure the butter is not straight from the fridge but still fairly firm before rubbing it into the flour with your fingertips. Mix in the sugar and making a well in the centre add the beaten egg. With your hands start mixing the egg into the flour mixture, adding approximately one tablespoon of water to help bind the ingredients into a ball of pastry dough. Roll out about two thirds of the pastry to line a loose bottomed tart tin and place in the fridge to rest for an hour or so, along with the remaining pastry.
- Then spread your chosen jam thickly onto the base. Roll out the remaining pastry and using a pastry cutter or knife cut long strips to create a lattice effect on the top. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for about half an hour or until the pastry is golden.
- Crostata di marmellata ai fichi keeps well for a few days and can also be frozen. Even better, give as a gift or share with friends.