Italian Apple Cake

This cake is a riff on my Nonna Maria’s Apple Cake. It’s a simple, rustic recipe to which I’ve added a splash of Sambuca. I also like to grate the apples so that they melt right into the batter and create a moist and tender crumb. You can use any variety of apple in this cake, but Cortland and Granny Smith are my favourite!


  • 4 or 5 large apples, grated
  • 1/3 cup Sambuca or rum
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • grated zest from one large lemon
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and generously grease a ten-inch round cake pan or a springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the grated apple and the Sambuca. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a handheld mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take about five minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and oil. Mix until fully combined.
  6. Next, reduce mixer speed to low and add in the dry ingredients.
  7. Use a spatula or a wooden spoon to fold in the grated apple and Sambuca mixture.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Cool cake completely on a wire rack before dusting with powdered sugar, if desired.

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