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Easy Italian Apple Cake with Olive Oil (Torta di Mele)

Torta di Mele or Italian Apple Cake, is tender, moist, lightly sweet, and sooo delicious!  Chunks of fresh apples float throughout the soft cake while thin slices of apples decorate the top.  All you need is a dusting of powdered sugar to turn this into an Italian masterpiece!

Italian Apple Cake dusted with powdered sugar on a wooden cake plate.

If you are an apple lover like me, you will go crazy for this simple cake. Torta di Mele is a classic Italian dessert perfect for any occasion.  

In Italy, Nonna might bring this out as a breakfast treat with espresso or a cappuccino.  But this simple everyday cake is delicious enough to serve for the holidays or at the end of a meal with guests.

I make this cake often for several reasons.  First, because I love apple desserts. I mean, who doesn’t love an apple dessert, right?  Second, because it is easy to make, and third since there are no autumn spices in it, it feels right any time of year.  And of course, it is a family favorite!  

If you love those autumn spices in an apple cake, you must try my Apple Cinnamon Apple Cake. It has a delicious streusel topping for a little bit of sweet crunch!

This classic Italian apple cake is made with simple ingredients and uses olive oil rather than butter to provide the fat that creates its moist tender texture. 

The use of olive oil in this cake and many other cake recipes in Italy is quite normal.  Butter was not a common ingredient in all Italian kitchens.  So many Italian Nonnas used olive oil in their homemade cake recipes.  I say if it works don’t mess with it!

labeled ingredients for apple cake.

Ingredients Needed for this Rustic Italian Apple Cake Recipe

There are no special ingredients in this simple apple cake so it is easy to make any time you have a craving for it!  Here is what you need.

  • Diced apples:  You can use any type of crisp apple you like here.  I recommend using an apple suited for baking so it does not melt into your cake.  You want chunks of apples in each bite!  These are some of the best baking apples: Crispin, Honeycrisp, Gala, Pink Lady, Jona Gold, and Granny Smith.
  • Lemon Juice:  A squeeze of lemon juice will keep the apples from turning brown while you prepare the cake batter.
  • Large Eggs:  Make sure to bring the eggs up to room temperature.
  • Sugar: Granulated Sugar to use for making the cake and Powdered Sugar for dusting it once it cools.
  • Olive Oil:  I use regular everyday olive oil in this cake.  You don’t taste it but it provides so much moisture.  You can use extra virgin olive oil to make this taste more like an olive oil cake. 
  • Milk: I use whole milk warmed to room temperature which adds to the creamy texture of the cake.
  • Vanilla Extract: You can omit this and use lemon juice in its place if you want a more citrusy flavor.  
  • All-Purpose Flour:  Measure the flour by spooning it into your measuring cup and leveling it off.
  • Baking Powder: Check your baking powder for freshness.  It is a leavening agent so it is important that it has not expired if you want your cake to rise.
  • Salt  
A 4 photo grid of process shots for making an apple cake.

Easy Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Peel and dice the apples, then toss them with the lemon juice and a tablespoon of flour in a medium bowl.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until frothy, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the olive oil in a stream while continuing to beat the batter.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients (flour mixture) to the wet ingredients and beat the batter with the mixer set on low speed until everything is combined.  
  5. Using a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula stir the diced apples into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into a prepared pan.  Peel and slice an apple and arrange the apple slices on the top of the cake.  Bake the cake in a 350-degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing it from the cake pan.  Cool the cake completely before dusting it with powdered sugar.  Serve it at room temperature.
A whole apple cake dusted with powdered sugar on a wooden plate.

Baking Tips

  • Use a 9″ Bundt pan or other pan with high sides so the cake has plenty of room to rise.  This is a dense cake and my only fail making this cake came from using a smaller cake pan.  The cake did not have enough room to expand and it did not cook all the way through.  
  • Make sure to use room-temperature ingredients so that they combine easily.
  • Don’t overbeat the batter.  Once you add the flour, mix it just until the flour is completely absorbed then stop. Over-mixing can cause the cake to fall.
  • If the cake is getting too dark in the oven and it isn’t done, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top to keep it from browning any further.

Storage Recommendations

This classic Italian treat is best stored in the refrigerator because it is such a moist cake.  I suggest storing it in an airtight container or covering it with plastic wrap.  It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

This cake also freezes well.  You can freeze the whole cake or individual slices.  Warp them tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, or place them in a freezer-safe container.  It can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Defrost the cake in the refrigerator or at room temperature and serve at room temperature.

A slice of apple cake on a green and blue flowered plate.

More Italian Desserts

I am happy to share these recipes for some of our favorite Italian cakes and desserts.  

If you like easy cakes that look and taste amazing, you will want to try my Italian Almond Cake (Torta di Mandorle).  This is the simplest cake ever!  Everything gets mixed in a food processor.  No other bowls are needed.  And because this delicious cake is made with almond flour and almond paste it is gluten-free!  

Don’t worry if you don’t have almond paste I have the easiest recipe for the most delicious almond paste you can make in minutes!  It is perfect for making Nonna’s Almond Paste cookies.  These little Italian treats are a cross between a macaroon and a macron. 

You can’t talk about Italian desserts without mentioning classic Sicilian cannoli.  You will love our family recipe for cannoli, including the bubbly crispy shells and the sweet ricotta filling. Nonna’s cannoli are always present on holiday tables and family celebrations.  In fact, my niece opted to celebrate her wedding day with Nonna’s cannoli instead of a traditional cake.

Other Apple Desserts

This section is for all the apple dessert lovers out there, like me!

My Soft Apple Cookies are cakey, moist and flavored with all of the spices of fall.

How about the best and easiest Apple Crisp ever! You will love this served warm with a scoop of ice cream!

And last but not least, a delicious fall cocktail, Apple Cider Margarita.

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Italian Apple Cake  or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

You can also follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest for more recipes your family will love!

Italian Apple Cake Recipe

Italian Apple Cake dusted with powdered sugar on a wooden cake plate.

Italian Apple Cake

This rustic apple cake is a classic Italian dessert with a soft moist crumb and packed with chunks of apples. A simple cake that is perfect for an afternoon snack but delicious enough for a special occasion.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 servings
Calories 425 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 9" Bundt pan

Ingredients
  

  • cups Apple peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Apple Thinly sliced
  • 4 Eggs Large, room temperature
  • cups Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • ¾ cup Whole Milk Room temperature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • cups All-purpose Flour Plus more
  • tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 350℉. Grease and flour the Bundt pan.
  • Peel and dice the apples, then toss them with the lemon juice and a tablespoon of flour in a medium bowl.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and set it aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until frothy, about 2 minutes. 
  • Add the olive oil in a stream while continuing to beat the batter.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix well.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients (flour mixture) to the wet ingredients and beat the batter with the mixer set on low speed until everything is combined.
  • Using a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula stir the diced apples into the batter. Pour the batter into a prepared pan.  Peel and slice an apple and arrange the apple slices on the top of the cake.  
  • Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing it from the cake pan.  Cool the cake completely before dusting it with powdered sugar.  Serve it at room temperature.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Baking Tips

  • Use a 9″ Bundt pan or other pan with high sides so the cake has plenty of room to rise.  This is a dense cake and my only fail making this cake came from using a smaller cake pan.  The cake did not have enough room to expand and it did not cook all the way through.  
  • Make sure to use room-temperature ingredients so that they combine easily.
  • Don’t overbeat the batter.  Once you add the flour, mix it just until the flour is completely absorbed then stop. Over-mixing can cause the cake to fall.
  • If the cake is getting too dark in the oven and it isn’t done, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top to keep it from browning any further.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingsCalories: 425kcalCarbohydrates: 71gProtein: 7gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 214mgPotassium: 144mgFiber: 2gSugar: 43gVitamin A: 151IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 76mgIron: 2mg
Keyword apples, made with olive oil, cake, coffee cake,
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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