Bolzano Apple Cake

November 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 25 Comments

bolzano apple cake

When my husband comes home from work, he likes to plop down on the couch and settle in with some ESPN or some business news.  Yawn.  I like to plop down beside him and settle in with a cookbook.  For the past couple of weeks, my book of choice has been Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook.  I have to tell you that you won’t find many pictures in the book, but that’s fine with me because it makes way for heaps more recipes!  The book spans the archives of newspaper, and the recipes in each section are arranged by date (one day I’ll be adventurous enough to make you a cake from 1876, but for today’s one is from 2004).  It also has a beautiful red cloth cover, and would make a pretty sweet holiday present for anyone who loves to cook.

When I came across the Bolzano Apple Cake recipe in the book, I knew instantly that I wanted to give it a shot.  (Just because October has come and gone, does that mean I should move past apple desserts?  I hope not, because I still have half a crisper drawer full of them from my orchard excursion a month ago.)  What really attracted me to this cake, was that it sounded so similar to Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake (which I was crazy about) from a few weeks back.

The cakes are not quite identical twins– maybe fraternal?  Marie-Hélène’s has a healthy dose of rum in it, while the Bolzano is all about real vanilla bean.  And while Marie-Hélène’s certainly has a custardy texture, this one does, too, but even more so.  In the Bolzano cake, the apples are thinly sliced, instead of cut into chunks.  The cake bakes up into a stack of soft apples with batter barely seeping in between the layers.  I’m glad that I don’t have to choose between the two cakes, but can quickly and easily make either one!

Bolzano Apple Cake- makes 6 to 8 servings
adapted from  The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved
1 1/4 pounds (3 to 4 small to medium) Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup AP flour, plus mor for dusting the pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
Powdered sugar for dusting

-Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line the base of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment, then smear with thick layer of butter. Dust with flour; turn pan over and tap lightly to remove excess flour.  Melt butter in small saucepan (you can take it a step further and lightly brown it, if you like). Set aside.

-Beat together eggs and half the sugar in a bowl (it’s not hard to do by hand). Continue to beat while slowly adding remaining sugar until thick; it should form a ribbon when dropped from a spoon.  Add the vanilla seeds to the batter and add the pod to the melted butter.

-Peel, quarter and core apples, then trim ends and slice thinly.

-Remove vanilla pod from butter and stir butter into egg-sugar batter. Combine the flour and baking powder, then stir it into batter alternately with milk. Stir in apples, coating every piece with batter. Pour batter into pan, using fingers to pat top evenly.

-Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate pan; bake for about 25 minutes more, until cake pulls away from pan and is brown on top; a thin-bladed knife inserted into center will come out clean when it is done. Cool 30 minutes on a rack.

-Remove the sides of the springform, cut the cake into wedges and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Please note that the publisher, W.W. Norton, sent me a copy of this book…but I would have bought it anyway!


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  1. Bring on the apple desserts. Fall is still here as far as I’m concerned, and who cares, who doesn’t love a piece of warm apple dessert in the winter. I will be trying this out tonight since I have a crisper full of apples too! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Looks delish!

  3. Oh, this looks just gorgeous and, I’m sure, tastes wonderful. I was going to make apple kuchen as one of my Thanksgiving desserts, but now I may have to try this.

  4. Interesting…I was planning on making an apple galette as one of my Thanksgiving desserts, but I may try this instead because I loved Dorie’s recipe!

  5. Wow that looks fabulous and completely apple packed. Just gorgeous

  6. I made this last night – awesome and SO simple!! Is it bad to have the same dessert for dinner, breakfast, and then dinner again? I hope not!!

    • great! i think it’s perfectly acceptable to eat it for every meal!

  7. I agree with you on cookbooks that don’t have too many pictures – it keeps my creations from having to live up to the perfect photos!

    Your cake looks fantastic, gorgeously golden on top 🙂

  8. Awesome! This is my favorite. I’m sure that I will be baking this for my parents wedding anniversary. They will love this one. Maybe I should add some cream cheese frosting. What do you think?

    • hi melanie. the cake is great, but i’m not sure it’s a good candidate for frosting. it doesn’t have the same sturdiness and texture as your typical cake. i’d just serve it with ice cream or whipped cream instead.

    • Can you tell me what kind of pan you baked the Bolzano Apple cake in? I’ve had problems with leaking springform pans.

      • I used a springform, but if yours leaks, I don’t see why you couldn’t use a regular cake pan…just be gentle when removing it. Grease and line your pan with parchement as in the original instructions. After cooling, I’d run a pairing knife areound the sides to make sure it’s loose, invert it onto a plate first to get it out of the pan and then flip it right side up onto another plate.

  9. Looks delicious, but i have 2 questions,
    1. I normally see recipies with 1 stick butter, what it means in grams?
    2. My oven does not go until 375 degrees (i normally bake cake at 180 degrees), do you think that i can use the max capacity of my oven and let for more time?

    Thank you for all your recipies!!!!

    • hi nisa. one stick of butter is about 113 grams. sorry, the 375 is in degrees fahrenheit. bake the cake at 190 celsius, and you should be fine.

  10. Yum this cake looks amazing! It looks like what I was craving for a few weeks ago, but I made a cake that was unsatisfying! I will be trying this recipe the next time an apple craving hits!

  11. Gorgeous and looks so delicious.

  12. First, let me say that is is one delicious cake! However, I’ve made it 4 times now, and had problems. Twice I made it in a springform pan, and both times they leaked quite a bit. Also, I didn’t think the 50 minute cooking time was sufficient – I thought it was still too loose – so next time I will need to watch it and bake longer. Then I made it twice in cupcake tins with aluminum foil baking cups. The baking cups were difficult to coat with butter and sugar, and the foil cups didn’t pull off the “cupcake’ neatly. So the “cupcakes” didn’t look very pretty.

    Does anyone have a solution for a leaking springform pan? How about cooking time? Has anyone made this in a flexible silicon pan that peels off?

    I would appreciate any ideas. This cake was wonderful and I really want to get it right. Thanks!

    • I would try a regualr cake pan before trying a silicone one (I don’t like silicone pans much, but that’s personal preference). See my response to your other comment. Keep an eye on your cake, and if instincts tell you to bake longer, then check it again after an additional 5-10 minutes. Do you use a thermometer inside your oven to make sure temp is accurate?

      • Steph, thanks so much for your reply. I have not used an oven thermometer, that is a good idea – having a wonderful Wolf oven, I thought it would be accurate, but it doesn’t hurt to check. I will try making the cake again, carefully lining the springform pan with aluminum foil, and watching the temperature, cooking longer if need be. I don’t want to use a regular cake pan, I think I’ll mess it up inverting it onto a plate and flipping it.

      • Hope it comes out great! I have a Viking, and while it’s pretty accurate, I do leave a thermometer in there just in case. Wrap a layer of two of foil around the underside (outside) of your springform. You can also put it on a baking sheet just to make extra sure your oven floor stays clean.

    • Regarding your leaking springform pan: is it possible you have had your pan for many years; they don’t close as tightly as when new. If purchasing a new one is not an option, you can lay a piece of parchment over the base and clamp the ring shut over the paper covered base.

      • Thanks for your reply, Louise. I have bought 2 new springforms, they all leak. I have solved the problem by using a graham cracker crust that I push into the edges and then I also wrap the entire bottom of the springform (on the outside) with heavy duty aluminum foil that I bring up the ouside of the sides, so the leak is contained. But I will try what you suggested and put parchment on the bottom and up the sides, and clamp the ring over the paper. Best wishes, Nina

  13. Did you know that Bolzano is a town located in the northern Italy?
    If not, now you do ! Thanks for sharing this recipe, I love it!

  14. This is still one of my favorite recipes – but now I bake my Bolzano Apple Cakes in a jumbo muffin tin instead of like a cake that needs to be sliced. It is very elegant when each person gets their own individual dessert. This recipe yields around 9 – 10 individual servings. I put a parchment circle on the bottom of each “cupcake” to ease removing the cake, then I bake it for around 35 – 40 minutes at 350, or if I’m using a convection oven, around 30 minutes. Try it, I know you’ll be pleased – and you won’t have to worry if the center is properly cooked as you do with a cake.

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