I was so pleased when Ginny contacted me and asked if I’d like to be part of the blog tour for a brand new book published by her mom’s company: A Family Farm in Tuscany: Recipes and Stories from Fattoria Poggio Alloro. I am definitely a cookbook junkie…and I’m particularly excited about books that celebrate seasonal sustainable foods.

The photos that grace A Family Farm in Tuscany are so dreamy: flipping through them had me seriously contemplating a Tuscan vacation (I’ve never been). I want to go even more after reading the tales and cooking a few of the comforting recipes from the farm featured in the book.

For this post, I chose to feature the Apple Cake on page 175. This is a great fall dessert and I was initially drawn to this recipe because of the apples in my refrigerator that were so desperate to be used up. Somewhat surprisingly, this simple cake ended up being one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. Seriously: my kids absolutely RAVED about it! I followed the recipe exactly except that I substituted almond flour for the all purpose flour. I prefer not to eat wheat, and to make my baked goods grain-free whenever possible (but I don’t really love fooling around with all the different gluten-free flours): I find that almond flour works beautifully as a substitute for all purpose flour.

Almond flour does change the flavor and texture of whatever you’re making a bit (but in my opinion, it’s a good change)…so you should go ahead and use whichever flour makes you happy. One thing I need to mention: the apples sunk down into the batter while baking so you can’t see the pretty pattern I made with them in these photos…not sure if this was because of the almond flour, but I’m guessing yes.

Recipe for Apple Cake (Torta di Mele)

Yield: Makes one 8-inch (20 cm) cake, about 8 servings

This cake has very little butter in it, but it's still ridiculously moist. It's delicious right out of the over, after it's cooled a bit, but also when it's been in the refrigerator overnight. Author Sarah Fioroni recommends serving it with ice cream but the cake is really quite sweet, so I don't think it's needed. I did, however, find that a big scoop of Greek yogurt was a nice addition on top of a leftover slice I had for breakfast (plus it added some protein)

Ingredients:

*Butter and flour for dusting the pan (I used almond flour)
*3 eggs
*1 cup sugar (200 g; I used organic, fair-trade sugar)
*1 1/2 cups almond flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand); or use 1 1/2 cups (180 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour as called for in the original recipe)
*1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk (I used raw milk)
*2 1/2 tablespoons (40 ml) butter, melted (I used organic, grass-fed butter)
*2 teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon (3 ml) vanilla
*3 medium apples, about 1 3/4 pounds (800 g), peeled, cored, and cut into wedges 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick: Granny Smith apples work well
*Powdered sugar as garnish
*Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C.)

2. Butter and flour an 8-inch spring form pan, tapping the pan to remove excess flour; set aside.

3. Combine the eggs and sugar in bowl of electric mixer. Beat at medium high speed for 5 minutes, until pale yellow in color and thickened. Gradually add the flour, milk, and butter, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl after each addition. Beat at low speed until each addition is blended, then increase speed to medium high and beat for 3 minutes. Add the baking powder and vanilla and beat an additional 2 minutes to blend well.

4. Turn batter out into the prepared pan. Arrange the apple slices vertically, with the core side down, in concentric circles in the batter, beginning with the outside edge of the pan and continuing to the center. The arrangement of the apples should resemble a rose in full bloom.

5. Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean and apples are lightly browned (I may have underbaked the cake just a tad which is why it was so moist...definitely don't let it overbake).

6. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan. To serve, cut the warm cake into slices, then scatter powdered sugar over each serving. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired./p>

I am pleased to be able to offer one copy of this lovely book to give away.

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. Open to US residents over 18 years of age only. This giveaway will end on Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using random.org. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.

To enter, please leave a comment below (this is your mandatory entry)..and if you’ve been to Tuscany, I’d love to hear about your experience!

More recipes from A Family Farm in Tuscany: