ITALIAN APPLE CAKE

ItalianAppleCake-MayaOryan

It is said that we spend around the third of our life sleeping; I would love to know how much am I spending mine baking.

I love baking. Whether it’s sweet or savor, my pupils just grow larger in front of almost any kind of food coming out of the oven.

Yesterday I baked an apple cake and witnessed it coming out my kitchen triumphantly smelling like heaven.

I had my family over for my yearly Christmas party. I love our get-together, it’s warm and joyful. Kids were delighted with all the new gifts waiting for them under the Christmas tree and we, “grown-ups”, were happy drinking and eating merrily. A day to remember! Also was my cake☺

My daughters Kaia and Axel

My daughters Kaia and Axel

ITALIAN APPLE CAKE

Ingredients

  • 100g butter (at room temperature)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4tbsp milk
  • 3 sweet apples such as gala or golden, cored and sliced (skin on)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1tbsp limoncello

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 180° C. Butter and flour a 22cm round cake pan.

2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Pour milk gradually while mixing and scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.

4. Pour the batter in the cake pan and decorate with the apple slices arranging them close together and overlapping on top of the batter.

5. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle this over the apples. Drizzle with limoncello (or lemon juice).

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack.

6. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Mushroom, Ham and Cheese Pizza

During the last few years, Milan has been an addictive destination to me! No matter where I wanted to go in Europe, it has to be via Milano. Partly is for the shopping of course but mostly is for the bounties of Italy. I’m in love with this country, the nature, the culture, the traditions, the walks and obviously the food!

Last week I was there with my dear friend Nidal. We had a blast! We enjoyed every bit of our stay.

On our last day, we drove north to the town of Como. We walked around the small streets then went to see one of the top travel destination in Italy, lying between Milan and the border of Switzerland, the Lake Como. Wow! Beautiful! I think my heart has stopped beating for few seconds.

After Como we crossed the Swiss frontiers visiting Lugano, where we had lunch, bought Gruyere cheese and Swiss chocolate and walked the stretch along the Lake Lugano. I was surrounded with breathtaking scenery! I stared at the deep blue water, the mountains and the white peaks in disbelief, thinking this is all I wanna do, everything else can wait!

Zap to reality, to Lebanon, with its never-ending political issues and stressful events bursting every now and then.

Inspired by my trip and all fused with my passion for Italian cooking, I decided today to bake a Pizza.

This recipe uses fresh onions, garlic, mushroom and scented thyme. I sprinkled fresh garden basil over the Mozzarella and the Gruyere cheese, to give it a little extra flavor and fragrant.

Unfortunately, it’s not the best shot I have on my website, next time I make the same recipe, I’ll try to take a better picture.

I would be lying if I say that I make Pizza often. It’s so easy to prepare, but for some reason I always manage to forget about this recipe. And when I do it, I’m always proud of my achievement, which earns me big smiles from my hubby and girls!

Mushroom, Ham and Cheese Pizza

Ingredients

 The dough

  • 400g all-purpose flour (strong flour Tipo “00” is recommended)
  • 100g semolina or ferkha
  • 1tsp salt
  • 7g/2 ¼ tsp/1 sachet active dry yeast + 50ml hand-hot water
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin oil

Filling

  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups of tomato sauce or passata
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 200g sliced ham
  • 100f fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful of fresh thyme
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted
  • 1 tbsp pizza seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

Directions

  1. In a jug, dissolve the yeast and sugar in water and let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour and semolina together. Add salt.
  3. Make a well in the middle. Add oil to the yeast mixture and pour it in the centre of the well. Start mixing, bringing the flour from the edges to the middle. Add water and keep kneading to form a springy large ball with the dough.
  4. Cover the dough with an oiled sheet of cling film and return to the bowl. Cover it with a kitchen towel and leave the dough to rise about ½ an hour or until it has doubled in size.
  5. To make the topping: In a saucepan heat oil and sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, ketchup and mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Season with oregano or pizza seasoning and salt and pepper.
  6. Off the heat add the thyme and the olives and mix.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll out on a floured surface to form a rectangular shape. Place it in the mold pushing out the edges evenly. For thick dough, it should be no more than 1cm.
  8. Brush the dough with the tomato Passata sauce and spread the topping evenly over the pizza base and sprinkle with Gruyere and Mozzarella cheese. Bake in a preheated oven 200°C for 20-25 minutes or until the dough rises and turns slightly golden.