Italian Apple Cake

Torta di Mele

When my mother first arrived to Canada, over fifty years ago, olive oil was difficult to find and very expensive. As a result she substituted vegetable oil in most of her recipes. Not until olive oil became readily available in Canada did she reintroduce her much loved oil into her baking. Nothing beats the moist and tender results that olive oil imparts in this family favourite. Olive oil, common in Italy where this recipe comes from, adds an unexpected rich texture and flavour.


Use regular olive oil in baking, higher grade, expensive cold pressed olive oil loses its healthy benefits during baking.


Although apples are the easiest to use in this recipe (they’re available year-round), I often add plums, peaches and/or blueberries when they’re in season.


If you’re feeling decadent, add a scoop of ice cream to your finished cake. Alternatively, you could blend mascarpone cheese (1/3 cup) with sugar (3 tbsp) and amaretto (2tbsp) to taste for an Italian touch.

*Carla’s tip*: Bring buttermilk and eggs to room temperature before baking for a consistency that will allow them to blend easier with other ingredients and will make a lighter cake. Use a variety of apples, easily found at your local grocer’s, for a contrast of  taste and flavour.


Italian Apple Cake

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print


  • 5  apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 cup + 1/4 cup (310 mL) granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (approx)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) buttermilk
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) almond or vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup (435 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tsp (10 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 4 eggs
  • Sifted icing sugar



  1. Grease and line a 11 x 7 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Combine the apples, 3 Tbsps (45 mL) sugar, lemon juice and zest, stir to combine and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine olive oil, buttermilk and almond extract. In a second bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a third bowl (last one, I promise!), beat  the eggs and 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar until the mixture thickens.
  3. Add both the flour mixture (bowl #2) and the oil mixture (bowl #1) to the egg batter (bowl #3). Add a little bit from each, alternating slowly to evenly mix everything.
  4. Pour half the batter into the baking pan. Top the batter with half the apple pieces. Add the remaining batter to this, and top everything with remaining apples.
  5. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar over top. Bake in preheated 325F (160C) oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Let the cake cool in the baking pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan. Turn out the cake and remove the parchment paper.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dusting of icing sugar. Sweetened mascarpone topping or ice cream are optional


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