From The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (Scribner 1999). Copyright 1999 Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 65-75 min
Total time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: Makes 1 9-inch cake, serving 10 to 12
I make this cake from Tuscany instead of a pie because it actually benefits from being made ahead, while apple pie is best eaten on the day it's baked.
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, (organic preferred)
1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Generous pinch salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Shredded zest of 1 large lemon
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 large (about 1 pound) apples (Granny Smith, Braeburn, or Gala), peeled,cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Place the rack in center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl, with your fingertips, rub together the first measure of flour, the 1 1/2 cups sugar, salt, and butter until crumbly. Remove 1 cup of the crumbs and press them onto bottom of the springform pan and about 1/2-inch up the sides, making a crust about 1/8-inch thick.
2. Make a well in the remaining crumb mixture. Pour into it the milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, the second measure of flour, and baking powder. With a whisk, blend this mixture thoroughly without incorporating the crumbs. Then with a wooden spoon stir in the crumbs until well blended but still a little lumpy. Fold in the apples. Scrape the batter into the pan.
3. Beat the egg white until foamy. Beat in the 2 tablespoons sugar until whites barely stand in peaks. Zigzag it over the top of the batter, leaving 2/3 of the batter uncovered.
4. Bake 65 to 75 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Remove from oven and cool 30 minutes on a wire rack. Slip off sides of the pan and finish cooling cake. Serve at room temperature. Covered in plastic wrap, the cake holds well at cool room temperature for 2 days. It keeps a week in the refrigerator. Warming in the oven makes it even tastier.
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