A quick post as we prepare to batten down the hatches before Sandy hits town:
Here’s a homely version of an apple torte that could hardly be easier. And believe me, if a non-baker like myself can make this with no trouble at all, you will, too. You just make a simple batter in your trusty mixer, fold in apple slices, pour everything into a springform baking pan and bake for about an hour in a moderate oven. That’s literally all there is to it. The result is something moister and denser—and, to my mind, much tastier—than a cake, but not really a pie, either. A more rustic cousin to the French clafoutis, not very elegant perhaps, but very tasty and comforting on a chilly Autumn day. A perfect, no-fuss dish for family and close friends.
Grated zest of a small lemon
A few drops of vanilla extract
A tiny pinch of salt
200g (8 oz) flour
5 medium apples (about 700g/1-1/2 lbs)
More sugar for topping
Cinnamon, to taste
Sliced almonds or other nuts
Raisins or other dried fruits
First, make the batter: This is most easily done with a standing mixer. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are well amalgamated. Add the rest of the batter ingredients ingredients other than the flour and let them mix together well. Now add the flour in a thin stream to the liquid while the mixer is still running. Once all the flour has been incorporated, raise the speed as high as it will go to eliminate any lumps. The resulting batter should be pourable but thick, something like a very thick pancake batter.
Peel and core the apples, one by one, and slice them into thin wedges. Add the sliced apples to the mixing bowl as you go, folding them into the batter.
Pour the apple batter into a springform baking pan, which you will have greased very generously with butter. Even out the top with a spatula and clean off the sides. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar.
Place the pan in a pre-heated moderate (180C/350F) oven for about an hour, until the torta is cooked through and the top is nice and brown. (You can test doneness by sticking a skewer into the torta; if it comes out clean, it’s done.)
Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on a rack before serving.
If you like, for a fancier presentation, you can sprinkle the top of the torta with some powdered sugar.
NOTES: This is a great recipe for using extra apples that may have gotten past their prime. The choice of apple is yours, but I’d recommend a crisp but not too tart apple for this dish. If your apples are a bit tart, you can slice them beforehand, and macerate them in sugar and a few drops of lemon juice. This will soften both their texture and flavor. If you want some crunch in your torta, you can add a few sliced almonds or other nuts to the batter along with the sliced apples. Raisins or other dried fruits would do very nicely as well. The same recipe lends itself nicely to pears and other seasonal fruits as well.
A nice slice of torta di mele makes a wonderful dessert, or snack, or breakfast along with your morning cappuccino. For a more elegant apple dessert, you might like to try our crostata di mele.