Culinary Anthropologist

Carlo’s Florentine apple cake


Well, I’ve had complaints that there hasn’t been enough butter or cream
in the last couple of recipes, so this week you’re getting cake and next
week you’ll get the ice cream to go with it.  Has anyone attempted the
(very healthy) pot stickers or gravlax yet??

This is the first recipe I’ve sent you that I learnt at culinary school in San Francisco.  We’re
getting a little more advanced now.  Having done stocks and soups we’re
now on to oysters and profiteroles (tricky).  Let me know if there’s
something you want a recipe for and I’ll see if I can help..

Carlo's apple cake.jpgI was taught how to make this cake by Carlo Middione, who learnt it from his father, who lived and trained in Italy.  Carlo himself has 50 years of culinary experience and now runs an excellent Italian restaurant in San Francisco called Vivande.  I think the cake is delicious.  If possible, serve it while still warm, with coffee, vin santo, cold zabaglione or ice cream.  I think it goes well with wildflower honey ice cream.  It will keep well in the fridge for a week.

Recipe:  Carlo’s Florentine apple cake.pdf

Serves:  8
Preparation time:   30-40 mins
Cooking time:  1 hour at 190 C (375 F)

120g (4oz) butter plus little more for lining cake tin
handful breadcrumbs
2 Granny Smith apples, or similar
300g (10oz) white granulated sugar plus little more for dusting cake
zest of a big lemon
120g (4oz) plain flour
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
1 tbsp instant yeast
good-sized handful toasted pine nuts
good-sized handful dried currants
3 large eggs
pinch salt

  1. Butter and line an 8″ cake tin or loaf tin of similar volume.  For best results, brush the base and sides with melted butter, line with baking paper, butter again, and coat with breadcrumbs.  
  2. Peel, halve and core the apples.  Then cut into thin slices, no more than 2mm wide.  Set aside some of the slices to cover the top of the cake.
  3. Beat butter and sugar by hand or in a mixer until creamy.  Add zest and milk and beat again.  Then add flour, apples, yeast, pine nuts, currants, eggs and salt and mix again.  It doesn’t matter if the apple slices break up a bit, but don’t blend them to a pulp.
  4. Pour mix into tin, decorate with reserved apple slices and sprinkle on sugar.
  5. Bake in middle of oven at 190 C (375 F) for approx one hour.  Check the cake after 50 mins.  It is ready when it has risen by approx 50%, the top is golden brown, but the middle is still very moist, even runny.  If you can see uncooked batter through the cracks in the surface but it is a nice golden brown colour already, give it another 5 mins but no more.
  6. Let cool slightly, remove from tin and cool some more on a wire rack. 

Learn more about Granny Smith apples.

carlo's apple cake 2.jpg


  1. niekrasz

    It may not be of your own invention, and I certainly didn’t make this with the same level of skill as you would, but the result was wonderful nonetheless. Thanks for passing the recipe on.
    My result was a mix of spongy at the edges and a bit stodgy in the middle. It may have been my use of dry active rather than instant yeast. I also used raisins instead of currants. But with a nice portion of lemon rind, the two really made the flavor for me.

  2. Anna

    Hi John
    I’m delighted you made it and it came out well. Personally I think this cake is best when it’s stodgy or even gooey in the middle. But it also works well fully baked and cut like a loaf.
    I actually have no idea why there is yeast in this recipe, as it’s not given any time to rise before baking. However, Carlo does it this way, it seems to work, so so do I! I should try it without the yeast one day…
    Anna x