Emiko Davies is the author of Cinnamon and Salt, a cookbook with a collection of stories and photographs exploring Venice, Italy’s beloved cicchetti.
Cicchetti (chi-ke-tee) include all the appetizers, aperitivo or hors d’oeuvres that define Venice’s casual way of life.
According to Davies, “Rather than a cake, this dessert is really just sliced apples held together with the smallest amount of batter. It’s reminiscent of a thin French clafoutis and it is absolutely delicious. It is a classic, home-style dessert, for making when you really don’t have much around except a lot of apples—in fact, it also goes by the name torta economica de pomi in Mariù Salvatori de Zuliani’s book, yes, an economical apple cake. If using particularly sweet apples, I would even cut out a tablespoon of sugar. If using very tart apples, you may like to add an extra one to the batter.”
Torta De Pomi Venetian Apple Cake
+ 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) apples
+ 3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for dusting
+ Zest and juice of 1 lemon
+ 2 eggs
+ 2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
+ 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) full-cream (whole) milk
+ Butter, for greasing
+ Optional: mascarpone for topping!
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
2. Peel and slice the apples and place them in a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice to marinate while you prepare the rest. In a small bowl, mix the lemon zest, eggs, flour and milk until smooth.
3. Prepare a ceramic dish or a round cake tin. (Like the Pinza di pane in the cookbook, page 218, this is the homeliest of dishes, so use what you have but don’t try this with a springform tin; the batter is quite thin and you’ll risk it leaking out! I have tried this in many different-sized and -shaped dishes and I personally prefer my widest ceramic pie dish, which is 26 cm/101/4 in, for a thin layer but you may prefer something smaller for a slightly thicker result).
Grease the dish with butter and dust with about a spoonful of flour and sugar each, tapping the dish or tin to distribute evenly. Tip out the excess. Arrange the apple slices and their marinade over the bottom of the dish and pour over the batter. It will seem like very little batter and the apples may stick out from the top, but they will cook down.
4. Bake for 25–35 minutes (even up to 40 minutes, depending on the apples used), or until the apples are very soft (a toothpick poked through the centre of the cake will help determine this) and golden brown on top. If the apples poking out on top are getting too brown, cover with some aluminum foil until ready.
This is rather lovely with a dollop of mascarpone (or thick cream or clotted cream, if you don’t have it). Keep any leftovers refrigerated.