Make Ahead

Balzano Apple Cake

November  8, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

This recipe hails from Lampreia, a Seattle restaurant, and was originally printed in the food section of the New York Times in Spetember 2004. The roots of Balzano apple cake lie in the Alto Adige region of Italy, where Lampreia's Scott Carsberg trained as a young chef. There, Carsberg worked at the Michelin one-star restaurant, Villa Mozart, whose menu reflected the simple foods of the region and whose chefs taught him how to make Balzano apple cake, a classic northern Italian peasant dessert. Over twenty years later, Carsberg put the cake on his menu, serving it with caramel ice cream. Yum. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 Fuji apples
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease a nine-inch circle pan with butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and place inside pan. Grease sides of pan and parchment round with butter.
  2. Melt butter in small saucepan. Set aside. Beat together eggs and half of sugar in a bowl. Continue to beat while slowly adding remaining sugar until thick — it should form a ribbon when dropped from spoon.
  3. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds into the egg-sugar mixture and add pod to melted butter.
  4. Peel apples and cut straight down around the core into four big chunks. Discard the core then slice the apple pieces thinly.
  5. Remove vanilla pod from butter and discard. Stir butter into sugar-egg mixture. Combine flour, salt and baking powder, then stir into batter alternating with the milk. Stir in apples, coating every piece with batter. Pour batter into pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more, until cake pulls away from pan and is brown on top. Cool for at least 30 minutes, then cut into wedges sprinkling each with powdered sugar if desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • TheAnxiousBaker
  • holly dart
    holly dart
  • Nicole Lindner
    Nicole Lindner
  • AntoniaJames
  • mrslarkin
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

12 Reviews

Patti January 23, 2024
This is delicious! Definitely goes into the regular rotation. My apples were large so I only used 3. What weight/volume would be a good measurement for the amount of apples? Could this be doubled and cooked in a 9" x 13" pan? Thanks for a great recipe!
TheAnxiousBaker November 25, 2023
Loved ease of throwing together. My first try browned too fast at 375° (temp in Alexandra’s website recipe), so tented with foil and, perhaps therefore, found cake a bit soggy when cooled. Flavor was great though. Considering touch of Cognac or Calvados for take two.
holly D. December 3, 2015
This dessert is so subtle, comforting, not cloying at all. The chewy top and edges, the creamy custardy center- it is just perfect. I love it! It is so easy to throw together, too, but it is a tad sensitive. I recommended it to my mom, whose oven just isn't great, and the texture was not quite right when she made it. I wonder if the temperature is off. That little difference made it just a good dessert- when it is typically amazing! I think if you preheat your oven fully, make sure you have the right temperature, and aren't afraid of a wet center in a cake then this will turn out beautifully for you like it did for me - twice.
Alexandra S. December 3, 2015
Holly, these are great tips. Thank you! Isn't it crazy how ovens behave so differently?
Nicole L. November 26, 2015
This is one of my favorite desserts. It tastes like GOOD bread pudding made with apple instead of bread. The apples on top get a bit dehydrated and crispy, and it's all creamy and custard-y below.
Alexandra S. November 26, 2015
So happy to hear this! This is one of my all-time favorite desserts. Love your description.
Gargamel October 31, 2012
Wonderful cake. I have made it numerous time. The last time I made it, I added a 1/4 cup of walnut powder (my friend brought it back for me from Hungary) and correspondingly augmented the amount of liquid (I added apple cider). I've also been serving this cake (traditional way or not) with a bourbon-flavored whipped cream. People love it!
Alexandra S. October 31, 2012
Gargamel — so happy to hear this! I am so intrigued by walnut powder. Is it like almond flour but with walnuts? I bet it adds a wonderful flavor. Love the idea of the bourbon whipped cream.
Gargamel October 31, 2012
It is, like almond meal but with walnuts. It's used a lot in Hungarian baking but I've seen it here. It'd probably cost a fortune! But it does add a really nice touch and it still keeps the cake really moist.
Alexandra S. October 31, 2012
Haha, you're probably right. Very cool. Thanks so much for the info.
AntoniaJames August 22, 2011
Love this! Reminds me of the simple apple cake my host mother in Florence made throughout the fall, when I was living there. On my "must make soon" list, especially now that good baking apples are available locally. ;o)
mrslarkin November 8, 2010
Sounds yummy! I like your time-saving apple cutting technique. I like the name too - it means "odd" in Italian. I wonder why it got that name?