Upon my arrival in Italy, I made friends with a girl from Belgium. She’s one of the 70.000 people of the German speaking community in the east of the country, quite a rarity! She’s also quite the angel, I soon found out. When I had to wait for my new room to become available on the first of October and was about to become homeless (or rather: a resident of the somewhat depressing youth hostel), she immediately invited me to stay at hers for the remaining two weeks of the month. Not only was I excited to have a place to sleep and a lovely roommate for two weeks, I was also chuffed that I’d have a kitchen, something I really missed at the hostel. I cooked us something tasty every night, out of pure selfishness, because I just enjoy cooking. But she mistook it for a very elaborate thank you, my way of repaying her for the two weeks of accommodation, and soon felt guilty for allowing what she thought was slavery.
To restore the balance, she started baking me stuff, at which she is very good! Our favourite was Pflaumenkuchen, or plum tart, which she used to make in Belgium, and which we soon started calling Torta di prugne to make it sound more interesting and Italian. The plums at the veggie shop here were excellent and ridiculously cheap, so as long as the season lasted, she made us at least one plum tart a week. However, it got colder, even here in Italy. At first, the plums just got more sour and more expensive, but then they disappeared from the shops altogether. Fortunately you can use apples too, and you don’t even need to alter the recipe that much. To make it sound more interesting, call it Torta di mele, Italian for apple pie.
Torta di mele:
4 tbsp instant vanilla pudding powder (do they even sell that in the UK?)
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or if they don’t have this at Tesco, use vanilla extract)
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup of milk (about 150 ml)
Stick the butter in a saucepan or microwave to melt it. Mix the eggs with the sugar, add the completely molten butter. Then add the pudding powder, the vanilla sugar (or extract), the baking powder, and the flour. Once you’ve mixed it properly, start adding milk. The dough has to be quite runny.
Peel the apples and slice them into fairly thin wedges. Pour the dough into a low cake tin, and stick in the wedges of apple, pushing them in so that you can still see them, but that they don’t stick out too much. Mix a bit of sugar with some cinnamon and sprinkle this over the dough just before you put it in the oven.
Stick the cake in the oven at a temperature you think works. I have a gas oven from the 70’s in my flat, so I don’t actually know how warm it gets. As for the time, that probably depends on the temperature of the oven, but the usual ‘stick a knife in and if it comes out clean, it’s done’ technique works fine on this one.