Sit with me. Let me pour you a cup of tea. There are fragments of a warm autumn afternoon light playing on the table, among the teacups. It’s an everyday afternoon, but we will make it stand out just by choosing your favourite cup, just by stealing ten minutes in the unstoppable flowing of time, just by slicing an apple olive oil cake.
It looks like one of those cakes that you can buy at the local bakery, shimmering on the surface, a pattern of crescent shaped apple slices. A subtle aroma of apples and cardamom lingering in the house reveals the truth, though: you just baked that apple cake, you whisked the ingredients pouring in an herbaceous olive oil, a pinch of cardamom, handfuls of apple slices.
You made that pattern by carefully arranging more apple slices on top, one next to the other, as if they wanted to protect themselves from a cold wind, standing shoulder to shoulder. A tablespoon of apricot jam, diluted in hot water and simmered on the stovetop, is the final polish for your apple carpet. It captures the light and reflects it.
It’s always handy to have an apple olive oil cake in your cooking repertoire.
Months ago I decided to share these recipes, staples of a Tuscan repertoire, analyzing the ingredients and the process with plenty of details so that, if you want, you’ll be able to include them into your collection and make Tuscan cooking your signature style.
You can dress it up for a dinner party: serve a slice of warm apple cake with a scoop of vanilla gelato, a cloud of whipped cream or a drizzle of custard. Wrap in foil a slice of cake for a school break or an office break. Bake the olive oil apple cake on a Sunday and enjoy it for breakfast on the first days of the week with a strong coffee or a cappuccino. Keep a slice of cake for an afternoon tea: you don’t need to set a table with china and a lace tablecloth. Choose your favourite tea, brew it and have a well deserved break with a slice of cake.
Extra virgin olive oil.
This is my favourite ingredient, something that in my book deserves a little investment as it can completely uplift your cooking. I cook with extra virgin olive oil, fry with it, bake with it. If you don’t feel like using extra virgin olive oil you can substitute it with a cold pressed sunflower seed oil or a rice oil, which have definitely a more delicate taste.
I am used to the aroma of olive oil in a cake, and I do appreciate it, especially when paired with lemon juice, as in this cake: it gives the most humble apple cake a Mediterranean twist.
I usually bake with gala apples, but feel free to choose the apples you prefer. The best apples are those that sit in the bowl on your kitchen counter. This is quite an apple loaded cake, as there are three thinly sliced in the batter and one on the top, so you’ll have a moist cake which will keep well for a few days, even on your kitchen counter.
It is not a Tuscan spice, on this we can agree. Usually apple cakes are spiced up with cinnamon or vanilla, but my sister literally hates cinnamon, so I’ve been using cardamom a lot, especially as I love to share a slice of cake and a cup of tea with her when she comes back from work in the afternoon. Again, feel free to experiment and choose your signature spice. Always opt for natural flavourings such as a real vanilla pod, grated zest of lemon or orange, spices… and avoid chemical essences.
Apple olive oil cake
And now, the recipe. Try it, make it yours, scrape the batter in your worn-out cake mould (I am sure you have one, I still use my grandma’s one and it’s the best), bake it in your family, share it with your friends. Then, if you want, come back here and let me know how you like it and how you changed it to meet your taste.
- 4 apples
- 1 lemon juice
- 4 medium eggs
- 180 g (3/4 cup - 6,3 oz) of sugar + 2 tablespoons for the apples
- 120 ml (1/2 cup - 4 fl oz) of extra virgin olive oil
- 240 g (1 34 cup - 8,4 oz) cake flour
- 8 g (1¾ teaspoon - of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of cardamom powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- Butter to grease the cake mould
- 2 tablespoons of apricot jam
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Peel, core and slice three apples. Put aside the fourth apple, you’ll need it later. Collect them in a bowl, drizzle them with the juice of a lemon and sprinkle them with two tablespoons of sugar. Give them a quick stir and put aside.
- Whip eggs and sugar until light and foamy. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil, then fold in the flour sifted with baking powder, cardamom and salt.
- Now add the apples, pouring in also the lemon juice left in the bowl. Fold gently to apples into the batter.
- Grease a 26 cm round cake mould with a knob of butter and dust it with flour. Scrape the batter into the cake mould and smooth the surface with a spatula.
- Peel core and slice the apple you put aside. Use these apple slices to decorate the surface of the cake, placing them in concentric circles, starting from the outside.
- Bake the cake in a hot oven for about 45-50 minutes, checking if the cake is done with a toothpick: when you insert it in the centre of the cake it should come out clean.
- Once ready, remove the cake from the oven, allowing it a few minutes to cool down on a wire rack, then remove it from the cake mould and place it on a plate.
- Dissolve the apricot jam in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water, warming it on low heat until it starts to boil. Brush the cake with the apricot glaze. Let it cool down completely before slicing it.
- It keeps well for a few days on your kitchen counter, simply covered with a paper napkin or a kitchen towel.
- Apparently Ottolenghi has a recipe for an apple olive oil cake in his latest cookbook, with a maple frosting, too. I discovered the recipe in Megan’s blog, A sweet spoonful.
- Aran has a recipe for a gluten free apple, olive oil and yoghurt cake, and she has also a stunning video for that!
- A very unusual apple cake, parsnip and apple breakfast cake by Miss Foodwise.
- I read this article and suddenly I felt less of a failure in trying to balance work and life. Yet shift it must. Change it must. For “balance” implies stasis – and stasis is antithetical to the creative life.
- On a side note, a few months ago I answered a request by MyHeritage to have my DNA tested, I was so curious. Finally I got my results! I am mainly Mediterranean, a clear 87,7%: no suspect, though a 42% from Greece explains my love for tzatziki, sirtaki and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This test also reveals what I have always suspected, too: I have a fraction of Irish, Scottish and Welsh blood in my veins, and this explains so many things, like, a lot!