Italian desserts: Apple and jam cake (torta di mele e marmellata)

This soft, buttery loaf cake, with chopped apple and jam swirled through the top, is essentially a dressed-up pound cake (which Italians charmingly call a ‘plum cake’, using the English words but pronouncing the ‘u’ as ‘oo’).

apple and jam cake
Lauren Bamford

SERVES 8

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
250g granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs, at room temperature
250g plain flour
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
3 tbsp apricot jam (see jam tart recipe [INSERT LINK HERE])
Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 31⁄2. Grease an 11cm x 26cm loaf tin and line with baking paper. Use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar with the lemon zest until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each. Once all the eggs are in, beat continuously until very, very pale and fluffy. This takes about 7 minutes with electric beaters.
  3. Fold in the flour carefully until it is just combined. Pour this mixture into the tin, then drop in the diced apple and use a butter knife to gently swirl through and to distribute. Smooth the top, then dollop the jam down the middle of the cake. Using a (clean!) knife pointing vertically down about 2cm-3cm into the batter, swirl the jam in a zigzag pattern.
  4. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until it’s golden on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the jam on top begins to look like it’s darkening or cooking too quickly, you can cover the cake loosely with some aluminium foil.
  5. When cool, dust with icing sugar if wished. Serve the cake in thick slices.

TIP When wrapped in clingfilm and stored in the fridge, it will stay moist and fresh for three to four days. Highly adaptable, this cake can be made in many different ways. You can leave out the apple or swap it for another fruit (pear, apricots, berries or plums are nice). Just don’t skimp on whipping the eggs – it’s what makes this cake so soft and fluffy without any other raising agents.

Now buy the book

Torta della NonnaOur recipes are from Torta Della Nonna by food writer Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant, £16.99). Emiko has lived in Florence for more than a decade and the book is a collection of some of her beloved Italian desserts. To order a copy for £14.95 until 28 March, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free p&p on orders over £20.