Any Italian will tell you that they grew up eating home-made apple cake for breakfast or la merenda, the afternoon snack. So will I.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (38 votes)

Grandma calls hers fugassa, because it’s soft like a focaccia. The hefty dose of eggs makes it airy, but substantial, while the apples give it a semblance of wholesomeness that allows for second helpings. 

Golden Delicious is the apple of choice for many Italian nonne. They appear to have the perfect texture for the task — neither hard nor floury nor mealy — and just the right dose of juiciness and sugar. Some excellent ones come to Veneto from the valleys of Trentino, but Grandma always preferred to buy them from the fruit grower down the road; he’d always throw a couple more in her bag for free, enough to make her happy.


  • 125 g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the tin
  • 300 g (2½ cups) plain flour, plus more for the tin
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
  • 120 ml (½ cup) whole milk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of fine-grain sea salt
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 2 large Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until airy and pale yellow. Add the melted butter and the milk and whisk to combine. In a separate, large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the wet mixture over the flour mix; add the lemon zest and strained juice and a third of the apple slices, and fold through until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Arrange the remaining apple slices on top. Set the cake on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 50–55 minutes, or until the top is springy and deeply golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If towards the end you notice that the apple slices are burning, cover with a piece of foil.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so, then run a knife all around the edges and free the cake. Transfer it to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar.


Recipe from Veneto: Recipes from an Italian Country Kitchen by Valeria Necchio (Guardian Faber, hb, $39.99).