Looking for a quick and easy crowd pleasing dessert for any time of year? Look no further than this really easy one-bowl Italian apple cake, otherwise known as ‘torta di mele’. A speciality of Italian grandmas, it’s moist and delicious, looks pretty, and you only need 6 main ingredients and 15 minutes of hands-on time to make it!
Most of the desserts on this blog feature either chocolate or lemon (I don’t have a recipe with both lemon and chocolate in yet but who knows, maybe it could be a thing!).
Mr. Scrummy finds this incredibly annoying. And I find it incredibly annoying that he finds it incredibly annoying. For goodness sake, who doesn’t love a good chocolate or lemon dessert?
I’m sure there’s someone somewhere who isn’t keen on apple desserts, but if you serve a good old apple pie (try this easy Dutch apple pie – it’s delicious!) or this easy Italian apple cake the next time you entertain, I don’t think you’ll hear too many complaints.
What’s a torta di mele and what’s so great about it?
A torta di mele is an easy Italian apple cake that everyone’s nonna (grandma!) has a recipe for!
- It’s very light and fluffy, it’s packed full of apple slices, and it also has a distinct lemony kick (Hey, Mr. Scrummy, if you thought you were escaping lemon or chocolate altogether, think again…).
- I can usually make it without going to the supermarket because I nearly always have the few ingredients needed to make it. If I don’t have pine nuts, I can leave them out (a shame, but not a disaster).
- It only takes 15 minutes to prepare. No creaming of butter and sugar or anything else fancy. But it looks and tastes impressive.
- As I said, it’s a crowd pleaser. Who doesn’t like apple cake?
That’s what I call an easy dessert.
About the ingredients
Flour: I use self-raising flour, which means you don’t need any baking powder. If you don’t have any of this, simply use plain flour and add a teaspoon of baking powder.
Sugar: Just half a cup! Keeping things light(ish) here…
A lemon: Use both the grated rind and the juice. You’ll be amazed how well a bit of lemon goes with apple!
3 eggs: Lightly whisk and you’re done.
Butter: Melted, which means no creaming of butter and sugar. All you do is stir everything together with a wooden spoon.
Cinnamon: Just a teaspoon. It’s also optional, but I think it’s worth adding it in for just a hint of yummy extra flavour.
Pine nuts: A few in the cake mix, and more on the top, which brown in the oven. These take this humble cake from good to amazing!
Icing sugar: Just a bit, for a final dusting on top of the cake to serve.
How do you make a torta di mele?
My version of the torta di mele most probably isn’t the most traditional way of making it.
I’m always looking for the simplest ways to make delicious food, so in this recipe there’s no separating of eggs or beating of butter and sugar.
What drew me to this recipe is that it’s a super easy one bowl cake.
Step 1: Line a round baking pan with baking paper and pre-heat the oven.
Step 2: Melt the butter in the microwave, which helps you get a rich, soft and moist cake.
Step 3: Mix all the ingredients together, including 2/3 of the sliced apples. Arrange the remaining apples on top, plus a scattering of pine nuts, and bake.
Step 4: Just before serving, use a sieve to sprinkle some icing sugar over the top. Serve with ice cream or cream, or warm, by itself.
I told you this was a simple cake. The biggest job is peeling and chopping the apples.
More things to know (FAQs)
Oh, absolutely! This is a very freezer friendly cake. If I want to freeze it I let the cake cool completely, then wrap it securely in foil and/or a large Ziploc bag for up to 3 months.
To serve, simply defrost for a couple of hours, then reheat in the oven before serving. You don’t want it to dry out though, so I usually just warm it on the ‘keep warm’ setting for half an hour or so.
Sprinkle some icing sugar over the top. Serve warm with a nice big amount of cream or ice cream. Or even custard if you’re in the UK or Australia! Or, heck, let’s go with all 3 – custard, cream and ice cream. Just pile it all on. Delicious!
It’s also delicious served by itself, with a cup of tea or coffee.
Yes, I think so!
If you have a large oven style one that will fit in a regular sized cake pan just follow the recipe as written but reduce the temperature slightly (about 25F or 15C) and reduce the time by 25 to 30%. So I’d start by baking for about 40 minutes. Check if it’s done and then keep checking every few minutes after that. Check the bottom too – sometimes I find the bottom takes a bit longer to cook in an air fryer. You might need to flip it for a few minutes towards the end of the cooking time.
If you only have a small air fryer, then I’d use the same pan you used for the banana bread. Check to see if it’s done after 30 minutes.
Actually, yes! Just stick with the same amount as the amount of melted butter you’d use – so half a cup. The cake will have a different flavour, but that’s OK. Try olive oil!
I vary the number of apples I use to make this cake. If they’re small apples, I’ll use 4. If they’re big e.g. Granny Smith apples, I usually use just two and a half apples. If they’re medium apples, about 3 is right!
Just eye-ball it. You can’t really go too wrong!
If the apples start to brown a little too much, just cover the cake over with some aluminium foil for the last part of cooking.
More one-bowl cakes/desserts
- You really can’t go wrong with this 6-ingredient gooey Swedish chocolate cake. It’s make ahead, the easiest dessert you can imagine, and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love it.
- If you like the idea of a butterscotch, white chocolate and crunchy cookie combo, these one-bowl Biscoff blondies are the stuff dreams are made of!
- This sticky apple and ginger cake is like a cross between gingerbread and apple cake. And yes, also made in one bowl!
- Last but not least, you have to try these 7 layer bars with pecans (otherwise known as magic bars) at least once in your life.
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Easy Italian Apple Cake (Torta Di Mele)
Equipment (affiliate links)
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 lemon rind and juice
- 3 eggs lightly beaten
- 4.5 ounces butter melted
- 4 apples (actually, 2.5 to 4 apples (see note below), depending on size, peeled & sliced thinly)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon optional
- ¾ cup pine nuts 1/2 cup in batter, ¼ cup on top – optional
- Icing sugar for sprinkling at the end
- icing sugar for sprinkling over the top
- cream ice cream or custard (or all three!)
- Pre-heat the oven to 355F / 180C.
- Line an 8 inch round cake pan with baking paper and lightly grease with butter or spray with oil.
- Zest and juice the lemon and set the zest aside. Put the chopped apples in a small bowl and pour the lemon juice over them.
- Combine the flour, sugar and lemon zest together in a large bowl, then add the eggs, melted butter, cinnamon & pine nuts (if using) and 2/3 of the apples. Stir until just combined.
- Tip the batter into the cake pan and smooth on top, then arrange the rest of the sliced apples on the top in a circle pattern (see photos in post and recipe video). Sprinkle over the rest of the pine nuts (if using).
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool completely, then sprinkle with a bit of icing sugar before serving.