Italian Apple Cake (Grain and Gluten-Free)

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.

Italian apple cake

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.

[cft format=0]

Gluten Free Italian Apple Cake

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 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:

Italian Apple Cake
Print Recipe
No ratings yet

Recipe for Apple Cake (Torta di Mele)

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)


  • *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


  • 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>

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

84 thoughts on “Italian Apple Cake (Grain and Gluten-Free)”

  1. Pingback: Appel-dadelmuffins zonder toegevoegde suiker | Paleo keuken
    • Sorry that was your experience. Everyone else has loved the cake so I am curious what kind of flour you used and if you made any changes to the recipe?

  2. What a surprise to google on “Italian Apple Cake almond flour” and find an actual tried and true recipe! This is my husband’s favorite cake, but now we follow low carb guidelines, so wanted to see what I could do for him. Thank you for your blog; it will be a treat and nice gift for him.

  3. Pingback: Kate in the Kitchen — maple apple cake {gluten free}
  4. Am making this for the second time today, this time to give as a gift. The batter is VERY moist and I was tempted to add more flour. I’m glad I did not, because it baked to perfection…wonderful recipe! Thank you so much for sharing it with us :)

  5. Pinned for later! I have some wonderful apples just waiting for this cake. Thanks so much for posting this up Winnie. I have never been to Tuscany, but would LOVE to visit someday.

  6. Pingback: 5 Brunch Recipes for a Leisurely Morning
  7. Pingback: Paleo Menu: 20 Apple Dessert Recipes — A Girl Worth Saving
  8. I used this recipe to make apple cinnamon pecan muffins.

    I only used 1/2 cup of sugar (coconut sugar), and added a teaspoon of cinnamon.

    I found 2 apples to be enough – I just chopped them into smaller pieces and added them into the batter prior to pouring into muffins cups.

    Worked out very well! Thanks!

  9. This cake is delicious, although I made a couple substitutions since I wanted the cake to be dairy free. I used Earth Balance spread instead of butter and full fat soy milk instead of whole milk. I found that 3 medium sized apples were a bit much for this batter, though. Next time, I will use just 2. Also, the batter overflowed my 8 x 2 inch round cake pan (don’t have an 8 inch springform) so had to transfer it to my 9 inch springform pan. It worked perfectly, filling it 2/3 of the way up. Baked for one hour, but the bottom was a bit too wet which I think was due to the number of apples. I used the almond flour by Honeyville Farms as I prefer it to Bob’s Red Mill. Thanks for the recipe.

  10. This cake rose excellently and had a nice texture. I used 1 cup of almond flour and half cup of Bob’s gluten-free all purpose flour. I also used Splenda, rather than sugar. It was very bland tasting, though. Next time I will use a full teaspoon f vanilla and add cinnamon and nutmeg. A stronger tasting fruit, such as berries or peaches might also boost the flavor. Overall, a great basic gluten-free (sugar-free) cake.

  11. My son is possibly going to have to go gluten free, or at least limit gluten. He is more scared about the carb loss (he loves carbs) than he is about his diagnosis! I love to cook, we do organic, home grown, homemade. but I think it will be a big change, thank you for this recipe but not only that-the tip that I can use almond flour instead of trying to figure out all the gluten free flours… I am overwhelmed! will make this for my son tomorrow.

  12. Unfortunately, I made the cake according to the directions exactly (I used 100% almond flour) and it completely fell apart. It was very difficult to cut into slices and crumbled all over the place. It tasted fantastic, but I think the number of eggs needs to be doubled or something to help the apples and almond bind together since there is no gluten if using 100% almonds.

  13. Comfort Food! We made a couple of changes to suit. Cconut sugar, just 1/2 cup. And 1 cup blanced almonds, 1 cup cashews (then ground in elderly but compliant vitamix). I have an extremely sweet tooth, and this was way sweet enough. My husband couldn’t believe it was grain free. Going into my recipe book! Thank you so much.

  14. Sighhhhhhhhhhhhh……….this was SO yummy, I just went back for seconds! I did, of course lol, make a few minor changes to suite my diet/tastes. I used part almond flour and part homemade GF flour mix (no gums in it tho), I used coconut oil and coconut sugar, added a little salt and subbed maple extract for the vanilla extract. Complete success!
    My suggestion on the apples is to reserve a handful of slices to decorate the top (horizontally) and just mix the rest of the apples into the batter before you pour it into the pan.
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe! It’s certainly going into my Favorites!

  15. This was a wonderful recipe! : )

    I have to do a grain-free/sugar-free diet so I used a cup of Splenda and 3TBS of honey instead of the sugar. Worked wonderfully.

    Thank you!

  16. I am avoiding almonds due to a sensitivity, and our family is now GF. I used Pamela’s baking mix in lieu of the flour. This is one of the best GF desserts I’ve made. Everyone loved it last night! My apples fell into the cake, too, though.

  17. WOW! This looks absolutely AMAZING! You are so talented. I’m going to try to make this for Thanksgiving.
    Thanks so much for sharing! Hope you are well; have a great holiday!

  18. I just made the cake! It was ready after 30 minutes though. I will only taste it tomorrow, but it’s nice and golden on the outside and the toothpick comes out clean… so folks, watch your oven!

  19. I came here looking for a recipe for apple cake that uses apples as the #1 ingredient by volume, followed by the flours, oils, etc. But, this one looks way too good to pass up, and it uses Bob’s Red Mill Almond flour, which I just bought 25 lbs of a few weeks ago. I’ll probably be making this one tonight. The colder weather here in Portland this week is making me think baked goods and warm hard drinks. Hmm…maybe whisky in the cake? You all should try warm apple cider with lime juice and rum, brandy, whisky or vodka thrown in. It’s a real northern warmer with an attitude of the lower latitudes. Here’s to traditional Tuscan recipes with a West Coast adaptation!

  20. Gorgeous cake! I love that you made it grain free. I have some green apples that need using, so I think I just found the perfect recipe :)

  21. This cake looks looks gorgeous….I wonder how it would turn out using maple syrup instead of sugar? I was in Italy as a teenager and am looking forward to returning one day, I find the culture to have a certain electricity!!! And a divine connection with food and communing…mmmmmmm!

  22. I love Tuscany! I was just in Italy last week and watched the hills fly by on the fast train from Rome to Florence. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful area – please go as soon as you can (I want to move there). Your torta di mele looks scrumptious!

  23. I have never been to Tuscany, but I sure love cookbooks and this apple cake looks delicious! Please enter my name in your drawing!

  24. This apple cake looks great! I can’t wait to try it. I am in charge of dessert this year for Thanksgiving. Thanks for the recipe! I would love to go to Tuscany… someday!

  25. I’m not at all surprised so many of us chose to make the apple cake for our posts – it is fantastic! I thought about using all almond flour for my cake but wasn’t sure – I’m so glad you chose to do that and it turned out so well. It’s beautiful and no doubt amazing in taste. I’ll try that next time. I don’t need to be entered in the giveaway as I already own the book. :)

  26. I have just returned from Tuscany and had the good fortune to visit Fattoria Poggio Alloro. The gracious hostess gave us a tour of the beautiful grounds winery, olive oil aging area, answered all questions and made us all feel so welcome. The meal we enjoyed was FABULOUS!!!
    The combination of Tuscany scenery, wines, food and hospitality were an unforgetable experience and I would recommend it without reservation.

  27. I’ve never been to Tuscany. I am hoping that the cookbook is the next best thing.

    I would like to try out the recipe, but might try it out with plums. I just made a German plum cake a lot like this and would like to see how they differ. Also might try the almond flour to see how that changes it as well (thus getting to try two cakes). I generally combine rice flour and oat bran when I go wheatless. It makes the crust a bit crunchy which I like, while giving a moist cake. I have a banana blueberry bread that I make that way.

  28. I would love to try out this recipe, as I too have some lonely apples rattling around in my fridge :) Do you make your own almond flour by finely processing almonds, or do you buy a particular brand? I’ve been casually looking for almond flour in my local grocery stores, but haven’t seen it yet…

  29. Pingback: Pantry Clear-Out | Made by Leah
  30. This is a wonderful cake. I made it but posted a pasta. Every single recipe I’ve tried so far has been amazing. Such a great book. No need to enter me since I was part of the tour.

  31. This cake looks scrumpious! Lucky me, with a bag of Granny Smiths sitting on my counter…
    I, too, would love to travel to Tuscany. Wine, cheese, great food, what’s not to love!?
    Thanks for sponsoring this contest.

  32. I have a long and storied love for fancy celebration cakes. Lately, though, I’ve been developing more of a soft spot for the elegance of simple, casual cakes like this one. Lovely, Winnie!

  33. I love all kinds of apple desserts and love your substitution of almond flour – I’m trying this tonight with whipped cream served on the side!

  34. Simona mentioned Umbria…we visited Perugia and Assisi there that I remember. My father’s specialty was church music so we visited almost every cathedral and church possible. I remember it being hilly and Perugia had many candy stores.

  35. I have never been to Tuscany, but dream about it. We are picking loads of apples right now in our orchard, and will make your recipe tonight! Looks wonderful!

  36. I spent the summer I turned 14 in Florence with my parents and younger brothers. My parents were both teachers and working on papers. We stayed at a pension which was lodging in a family home. Our room was on the 2nd floor off the top of a beautiful wide staircase. The ceilings and the windows were so high. Bathrooms were shared with other guests. If you wanted a bath you had to pay extra and the tub was in a room by itself. For my 14th birthday we went to see LA BOHEME at one of the opera houses. Opera was “invented” in Florence. We had a Eur-rail pass and we could just hop on trains and take day trips whenever. We had breakfast every morning at the pension, buns and hot chocolate or tea. But we ate out for lunch and dinner at little neighborhood restaurants or just picked up slices of pizza or bread and cheese and fruit from street vendors. If my parents were both busy my brothers and I would wander and keep ourselves entertained. There was so much to see. Everything was very safe. This was 1970. We liked to buy marzipan from the vendors …it was molded and colored into all kinds of fruit shapes. I love almond paste and anything made with almonds.

  37. Sadly no Tuscan memories to share yet (emphasis on yet…Italy is high on my wish list!). This cake is beautiful and I can’t wait to make it this weekend – perfect timing since I need to make a dessert. I’ve been enjoying almond flour in place of wheat flours, too. I love that there is some added protein from the nuts, and the flavor/texture is terrific.

  38. Pingback: Link Love « Hy-vee Health State of Mind
  39. Ooo I always make an apple crumble for thanksgiving but this looks so good I think I will have to give this a try! And I was obsessed with all things Tuscany for awhile and had my heart set on raising a family there (never been out of the country lol). I don’t think I would pass that opportunity up if it comes my way :)

  40. I have been tuscany. It was absolutely positively breathtaking. Definitely my favorite place in Italy… it’s so peaceful and theres a beauty about it that you can’t find any other place in the world.

  41. Absolutely beautiful! But looks so luscious too. Am sending to my daughter who has celiac – great to see something for the season — with apples! And since my husband loves anything apples, I definitely have to try this! Went to Tuscany several years ago – had a car and got to drive all around the wine region. But mostly it was the food – so fabulous. (And the scenery!).

  42. I would love to visit Tuscany! Almond flour is such a great substitute for AP flour and I definitely use it any chance I get. Thanks for the giveaway!

  43. My husband is gluten free and his favorite dessert is apple cake… I’m definitely trying this recipe this weekend. Looks absolutely delicious, thank you!

  44. Looks delicious, but I think I will try using agave nectar in place of the sugar and reducing liquid elsewhere. Love that you use almond flour. I use it almost exclusively. You can get 5 lb bags for a good price at Many recipes for its use at Check it out.

  45. Apropos of nothing (at least nothing on this blog other than the general advice on healthy eating), does anyone have any advice on how to eat healthy in the face of all of the leftover Halloween candy at work??

  46. I like your flour substitution and the surface pattern of your cake. Having grown up next door to Tuscany, I’ve been there many many times. There are some truly beautiful places there. However, and I know this will sound a bit snobbish, but it’s the truth, I like my native Umbria better. And if you visit, you can easily put my statement to the test by adding some Umbrian destinations to your itinerary.

  47. This looks lovely, Winnie! I’m so glad you loved the cake. I have made twice in three weeks, and both times, it disappears within 24 hours. We eat it for breakfast as well–even drizzle it with a little maple syrup. I liked your substitution of almond flour. Almonds and apples make a delicious combination.

    Thanks for participating in this tour.

  48. I would love to travel to Tuscany. It is on our list for our 10th wedding anniversary. I guess this cook book would last be the four years until then!

  49. This looks SO delicious. I love apple anything!! I too have some apples desperate to be eaten up asap, maybe I will try making this.
    I have never been to Tuscany but gosh would I love to. We did some illustration work for a client earlier this year, that required us to do illustrations of Tuscany, we obviously used photos for reference but I was left wanting to go there more than ever!