Tuesday, September 30, 2014

*****torta di mele

IMG_1375apple cake
If you open my mother’s recipe book, you’ll find it is composed of 77 handwritten pages, with an index and glossary.  You’ll find recipes from friends, like Mary’s cookies or Anna’s meatloaf, and 6 versions of Panettone, classified in rank order of preference. Roasts or pastas, which I clearly remember were served on big platers and passed around tables of 20, 30, sometimes 50 people, are all documented in her recipe book. Some recipes may have a star indicating, I presume, good feedback or something she liked best and proposed more than once. You'll also find photos that were cut out from magazines. Like the photo from homemaker’s magazine of chef Carol Bink’s prizewinning Neapolitan Gateau. It's not easy to guess how Carol's gateau is assembled by only reading the recipe, but with the photo you know exactly how it's done. She used to make the gateau on special occasions and only when it was strawberry season, she marks it with 5 stars. We are talking more than 20 years ago, I don't even know who chef Carol Bink is but her Neapolitan Gateau remains my favorite. 

The book has clear signs of use, each page has a stain or a bent corner, words have blurred, notes fly loose and there are some torns here and there.  It's not immaculate, that's for sure. Nonetheless, it's accurate, organized and each recipe is garantueed success, especially the ones with the stars.  And when you need to find something , there's a precise index too!

Sunday my sister was over at my place for lunch and while we were having coffee and going down memory lane we needed one of mom's cakes.  I grabbed the recipe book, opened it on page 21, sure to find mom's apple cake.  The recipe is scribbled down quickly, half in italian and half in english, rather concise, somewhat telegraphic but if you follow the few essential words, you can’t go wrong. No stars were there, but my sister and I give it a 5 star plus an extra bonus star because mom is mom and her apple cake is the best in the world.

Here's mom's recipe for the torta di mele. I fixed the guidance on the procedure to make it less telegraphic and more user friendly.

Torta di Mele {apple cake}

4 eggs
1, 1/2 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
4 ounces water
1, 1/2 cup sugar
2, 1/2 cup flour
5 teaspoons bakingpower 
5 medium size apples
3 teaspoons cinnamon
Icing sugar

Mix the sugar and eggs, add the oil and water, mix, add the flour and baking powder, mix. Butter and flour a spring form pan or line with parchment paper. Pour in half of the batter, cover with half of the apples that you have previously washed, peeled, sliced thinly and covered with cinnamon and a tablespoon of flour. Pour the other half of the batter and place the remain ing slices of apples in a vertical position so that they stand in the batter. Place in a preheated oven at 180ºC for circa 45/50 minutes. Use the toothpick method to see if it is done.  Half way through baking time, place a piece of parchment paper on top of the cake so that the apples don't burn. *I usually wet the parchment paper first and wring it like a towel before placing it on top of the cake.  Sprinkle with icing sugar.


  1. I taccuini di ricette delle mamme, patrimonio dell'umanità...
    quello della tua, poi, ancor di più.. e io che non so nemmeno che aspetto avesse la tua mamma, non so.. un po' me la sono vista davanti agli occhi mentre col grembiule ancora legato in vita e le mani un po' infarinate ci appuntava le sue ricette e ci metteva le sue stelline...

    1. Come mi capisci tu....sono pochi! Grazie cara <3

  2. Quello che più mi piace è che ogni tua parola, foto e ricetta vanno oltre... sai sempre come toccare il cuore di chi legge tu eh! Mi piacerebbe avere un libricino simile di mia madre, non ha mai amato cucinare e di suo ho solo il ricordo dei biscotti di pasta frolla all'arancia che preparava a Natale... grazie Elvira! La tua torta oltre che buona è anche speciale! Un abbraccio <3

    1. Con questo mi hai fatto un gran bel complimento. Mamma tua non ama cucinare ma tu compensi in pieno :-)

      Voglio la ricetta dei biscottini di frolla all'arancia!!!!!

  3. you mention water in your directions, but there is no water listed in the recipe.....?

    1. Hi Valerie, thank you for pointing that out, it's 4 ounces of water. I just made the fix on the recipe too. No matter how many times I proof read, it never seems to be enough! Let me know if you try it and like it.

  4. Hi Elvira. Do you use 1 1/2 cups of olive oil? Or some other type of oil. Grazie, Stacey

    1. Ciao! For this cake I prefer vegetable oil but olive oil is fine too. I just wouldn't use the extra virgin olive oil, I find it overwhelms in flavor.