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Italian Apple Cake | Classic Apple Ciambella

Italian Apple Cake is a moist and flavorful Italian cake made with olive oil, lemon, and both diced and grated apple. This tested and perfected recipe is a traditional Italian cake that is delicious served for breakfast as a ciambella, midday snack, or dessert. One bite and you’ll agree this is the perfect Italian Apple Cake recipe!

Italian Apple Cake on a wood cutting board with checkered cloth in the background.

After years of making this recipe, this is truly a tested and perfected recipe. Italian Apple Cake, also know as Torta di Mele is a moist and slightly dense cake that is perfectly sweetened.

Traditionally this cake is served in a bundt cake pan. However the Italian bundt cake pan is less fluted and more of a tube cake pan. No matter what pan you use, this cake is delicious!

You’re going to love the moist crumb of this cake and the chunks of apples in it. One bite and you’ll agree that this is truly a special cake perfect for any occasion. For another classic tested and perfect recipe, be sure to try this Lemon Ricotta Cake.

Italian Apple Cut on a counter with a cup of coffee and a plate with slice of cake on it.

What is Italian Apple Cake?

Italian Apple Cake is a traditional Italian recipe made with fresh apples, lemon, and olive oil. This cake is most commonly served as a breakfast Ciambella, but it sweet enough to be a light dessert or tasty midday snack.

What makes Italian Apple Cake different than traditional apple cake? Firstly, there are no spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg included in it – something typically included when making any sort of apple dessert. In addition, Italians like to use olive oil instead of butter when baking. Lastly, the recipe includes lemon which helps to bring out the flavors of the apple. Italians love using lemon!

Italian Apple Cake on a plate with a checkered cloth and apples in the background.

Torta de Mele, which translates to Apple Cake, is a common recipe to make when apples are in season. However, because it’s doesn’t have those fall spices in it, Italian Apple Cake is a great cake for any occasion.

How to make moist Apple Cake?

What makes this recipe so special is the combination of the diced apple and shredded apple. Traditionally this recipe uses just two diced apples. However, adding a shredded apple lets the flavors of the apple meld into the batter and keeps is super moist.

You really need the combination of both the shredded apple and diced apple to give the cake the moist texture. Plus the chunks of apple add a nice bite when you eat the cake.

Slice of Italian Apple Cake on a white plate.

To keep the cake moist after baking, be sure to cool completely before refrigerating. Store the cake in an airtight container and keep the cake intact rather than cutting into slices.

What type of Apples should I use?

When baking, you want to use an apple that won’t turn into mush and has a good balance of sweetness and tartness. The go-to apple for baking are usually Granny Smith apples because they hold up well and have a good balance of sweet and tartness.

For this recipe, you are probably safe using whatever apples you have on hand. Here, I used Pink Lady apples. I like the balance it has of sweet and tart, plus it keeps it shape when baking. However, you could use a similar apple such as Honeycrisp, Braeburn, or Jonagold.

Italian apple cake with a slice of cake on a white plate.

Can I make Italian Apple Layered Cake from this Recipe?

This base recipe for Italian Apple Cake is great for many different uses. You can use the batter to make muffins, two loaves of apple bread, or divide it into pans to make a layer cake.

To make the layer cake, simply divide the batter between two greased and lined 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Bake until the cake starts to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean. Frost with a cream cheese or buttercream frosting.

If you love apple layer cakes, be sure to check out this delicious Apple Spice Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting!

How to make Italian Apple Cake

To start, you will need to grease your Bundt Cake pan. Here I used a traditional tube cake pan from Nordic Ware. However, a standard 12-cup Bundt Cake pan works fine. You could even use a springform pan.

Nordic Ware tube cake pan.
Tube Cake Pan from Nordic Ware

Firstly, peel and core the three apples. Dice two of the apples into about 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks. Use a box grader to shred the remaining apple.

glass bowl with diced and shredded apple in it.

Then, toss the apples with lemon juice and lemon zest. Here I use two tablespoons of lemon juice and teaspoon of lemon zest, however you can use more or less depending on your tastes.

diced apples in a bowl tossed with lemon juice and lemon zest.

In a large bowl, use a handheld mixer to beat together the eggs and sugar, about 3 minutes. You want the mixture to be lighter in color and fluffy. Then, add in the milk, olive oil, and vanilla, and mix until combined.

glass bowl with wet ingredients and a white and red checkered napkin in the background.

Then, mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. No need to mix these in a separate bowl. You can add it directly to the batter.

apple cake batter in a glass bowl.

Next, fold in the apple and lemon mixture into the batter using a rubber spatula.

diced apples being folded into the cake batter with a rubber spatula.

sprinkle on sugar and bake

Pour the batter into the greased cake pan and smooth with a spatula. To make the cake extra special, I like to sprinkle the top of it with sugar before baking. You can always skip this step if you like, but I think it adds a sweet crunch to the top of the cake.

overhead photo of sugar sprinkled over top of the  cake in the Bundt Cake pan.

Bake the cake in a preheated oven for about 40-50 minutes. You will know the cake is done when it starts to pull away from the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Move the cake to a wire rack to cool for ten minutes before removing from pan.

Italian apple cake on a cooling rack with an apple in the background.

Finishing off the cake

Once the cake has cooled, you can serve it as is. Or, I like to dress it up with a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top.

Overhead photo of Italian apple cake with a cup of coffee.

To do this, simply place about a tablespoon of powdered sugar in a fine mesh sieve. Then, tap the sieve to give the top of cake a fine dusting of sugar.

Traditional Italian Cakes

Torta di Mele is a traditional Italian dessert you don’t want to miss! Be sure to check out these other delicious fan-favorite Italian desserts that are guaranteed to become your new favorites:

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake is a perfectly moist cake made with ricotta cheese, lemon, and lemon glaze.

No Bake Cannoli Cheesecake will be your new favorite and easy way to get that cannoli fix!

Limoncello Tiramisu is a fun update to this classic Italian treat made with limoncello liqueur.

Almond Ricotta Cake has the perfect fluffy texture and a tasty almond flavor. Perfect for coffee or snacking.

Chocolate Ricotta Bundt Cake is a perfect cake thanks to fluffy ricotta cheese and an easy chocolate topping.

Lemon Polenta Cake is a traditional Italian cornmeal cake with a delicious lemony flavor.

Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cake may just be the perfect Italian snacking cake.

Tiramisu Recipe with Kahlua is the classic Italian dessert with mascarpone and ladyfingers.

I hope you love this recipe for Italian Apple Cake. Be sure to comment below if you try it. Enjoy!

Italian Apple Cake on a wood cutting board with checkered cloth in the background.
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Italian Apple Cake

Italian Apple Cake is a flavorful cake made with olive oil and lemon. The combination of shredded and diced apple really brings out the apple flavor and keeps the cake moist.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Apple Cake, ciambella, Italian Apple Cake
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 252kcal
Author: angelakallison
Cost: 7-9

Equipment

  • Bundt Cake Pan (12 cup)

Ingredients

  • 3 medium apples
  • 1 lemon (zested and juiced)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk (2% or whole)
  • cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour (455 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (for sprinkling)
  • powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard bundt cake pan with melted butter or cooking spray; set aside.
    bundt cake pan greased with butter.
  • Peel and core all three apples. Dice two of the apples into about half inch cubes. Grate one of the apples on a box grater using the larger holes. Place the apples in a medium bowl and toss with two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of lemon zest; set aside.
    diced apples in a bowl tossed with lemon juice and lemon zest.
  • In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar. Use a handheld mixer to beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be pale in color. Add in the milk, olive oil, and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
    apple cake batter in a glass bowl.
  • Fold the apples into the batter and mix until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the cake with two tablespoons of sugar.
    overhead photo of sugar sprinkled over top of the cake in the Bundt Cake pan.
  • Bake on the center rack of the oven for about 40-50 minutes. You'll know the cake is done when it starts to pull away from its sides. Also, a toothpick inserted in the cake will come out mostly clean, except for some crumbs. Let the cake cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely.
    Italian apple cake in a bundt cake pan on a cooling rack.
  • Once the cake is completely cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar.
    Italian Apple Cake on a wood cutting board with checkered cloth in the background.

Video

Notes

Italian Apple Cake can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or frozen for up to two months.
Don’t have a bundt cake pan? You can bake this cake in a standard springform pan or a 9 x 13 baking pan. Just be sure to adjust the baking time and check for doneness using a toothpick. 
Italian Apple Cake.
Recipe Rating




Karen

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

Can the olive oil be extra virgin?

angelakallison

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

Yes!

Deb

Saturday 2nd of October 2021

A nice light cake. Not too sweet. Easy to make. Next time I will add more apples.

Beth

Monday 20th of September 2021

I have some Honeycrisp apples so I am going to try this cake. It looks fairly easy so I might even make it this evening!

Traci

Monday 20th of September 2021

Easy and delicious! Just in time for apple season. Thanks for sharing...I really needed this easy recipe.

angelakallison

Monday 20th of September 2021

Hope you love it!

Jen

Monday 20th of September 2021

I'm so happy to find a cake recipe that uses olive oil instead of butter! I love the combination of grated and cubed apple so that there's apple in every bite.

angelakallison

Monday 20th of September 2021

Yes, it's so good!