October: Torta di Mele

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Apple Torte, Italian Style

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The October Recipe of the Month, TORTA DI MELE, is a Tuscan specialty that showcases the season’s fresh apples just now hitting the markets. Mele means apple in Italian, and this dessert uses them in the most natural way, letting their sweet juicy flavor speak for itself. It is not only easy, but also fun to make. If you like apples, you’ll LOVE this. I don’t know about you, but fall always spells a-p-p-l-e to me. I’m always excited to get started using my favorite apple recipes once again.

When I was growing up, my hometown, Binghamton, New York, was the perfect place to be if you were an apple lover. The apples coming in from all over the state were sweet, juicy, and abundant. You could pick them locally or buy them by the bushel from roadside markets and orchards. And then, there was that Cider Mill we all enjoyed, where you could smell the apples being crushed for their sweet juice all the way to the parking lot.

I loved this time of year, as my mother, Loretta, who cornered the market on making apple pie and perfect piecrust like no other, used apples in every possible way all through the season. Her apple recipes were very typically Italian in that they weren’t overly sweet and invariably used fresh lemon juice or zest in them.

The TORTA DI MELE  is reminiscent of those recipes that let the fruit shine and don’t rely so heavily on sugar. Instead of sharing the plate with ice cream or whipped cream which might mask its delicate fresh flavor, I am suggesting lightly sweetened ricotta to be served with it – perhaps from CalyRoad Creamery The happy news for the “piecrust phobic” among my readers is that THERE IS NONE! Instead of crust, the apples perch on a layer of cinnamon bread soaked in milk which provides a soft cushion for the apples and light custard. You will love this idea! It all comes together in a crescendo of subtle comforting flavors. Nothing about this dessert screams SWEET! This torte recalls the gentle flavors of the pastries of New York’s Little Italy that line up in the cases tantalizing passers by. I love this dessert as it says Italian with every bite!

TORTA DI MELE

APPLE TORTE

Makes: one 10” torte

Prep: 40 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Ingredients:

4 Large sweet apples like Golden Delicious

9 oz. Cinnamon Bread (any commercial brand is fine)

2 1/4 c. Whole Milk

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. sugar

4 Tbsp. flour

Zest of one fresh lemon

Honey for drizzle

Ricotta Cheese, with a few drops of vanilla, sweetened with some powdered sugar

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Instructions:

Oil a 10 inch tart pan, springform pan, or cake pan.

Break the bread into a few large pieces. Place in a bowl and cover with 1 1/4 c. of the milk. Let it soak for about 30 minutes.

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While the bread is soaking, mix together the beaten eggs, sugar, flour, zest, and remaining 1 cup of milk.

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Peel the apples, remove cores and slice thickly.

After bread has soaked, squeeze out as much of the milk as you can and press the bread pieces into the bottom of the oiled pan.

Place the apple slices all around the top of the bread in overlapping concentric circles.

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Pour the egg mixture all over the top of the apples as evenly as you can.

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Bake the torte in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until the top is firm and golden.

I like to place the torte under the broiler at this point for just a few short minutes turning it to brown the apple edges slightly. Be careful not to let it burn. You can also use a torch to do this. It is prettier when the apple edges are lightly browned.

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While still warm, drizzle the torte with some honey and let it cool.

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When it has cooled, if using a tart or spring form pan, you can now remove the outside pan edge.

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Serve with a scoop of ricotta cheese sweetened with a little powdered sugar and flavored with a few drops of vanilla.

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Serving this TORTA DI MELE with the ricotta cheese is so much nicer than whipped cream or ice cream. The ricotta is not very sweet, does not detract from the flavor of the torte, and compliments the Italian style of this dessert perfectly. It tastes like it just came out of the case at your favorite Italian pastry shop and probably BETTER than anything you’ll get at a restaurant. This dessert is perfection!

How about a crisp cold Prosecco with this one?

 

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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Comments

  1. Yum.. I made this with apples from Michigan.
    Now, Im going to make it with Maryland apples.
    I prefer tart apples, and I must say they work just as well.
    Thanks again for these recipes.

  2. I am in the process of baking this recipe right now (torte mele). I’ll let you know what I think. It looks and sounds delightful. I wonder if day old croissants work as well.

    • Monica – You certainly could try using croissants and let us know how they worked in the recipe. Thank you for trying the dish!

  3. I too am from and still in binghamton/kirkwood! I am testing this recipe out today and will make next week for thanksgiving!

    • Sally – so nice to have a hometown gal trying one of my recipes. This torta is delicious and has been a popular dessert on the site. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Muriel Christensen says:

    I am allergic to Cinnamon…what do you recommend for a substitute Bread…?? or is there such a thing as using a plain wheat bread and adding nutmeg instead? I love apple pie….if I find substitutes I will end up changing the taste too….What to do?

    • Muriel – Definitely add some nutmeg. Use a good Italian Bread. That will be fine. Italians often use the Italian Bread in their Dolci. The nutmeg will add a lovely spice flavor. Also, I always remind about squeezing the liquid out of the bread well for this recipe.Enjoy!