The first time I tried tarta de manzana, or Spanish apple cake, I was 22 and just moved into my first Galician apartment. My kitchen had a big sliding glass door that opened to a patio, which was shared by my next door neighbors. Diego, my little 4 year old neighbor was, for lack of a better word, a cute little stalker. He loved to play basketball, catch, or just chat with me on the patio and wasn’t old enough yet to understand when it’s okay or not to knock on someone’s kitchen window. It was cute at first, but became a bit of a problem.
Diego’s poor mom was always apologetic and tried to explain boundaries to him any time she caught him knocking on the window to invite me out to play. But the kid, being 4, didn’t catch on as fast as we all would have liked.
Long story short, one afternoon Diego saw me coming home and well… here’s a Facebook post from 2014 about it:
Diego: Mom, look! It’s the American!
Diego: Do you want some apple cake? I invite you!
Jess: Yes, thanks!
Diego: Mom! She said yes!
So, perhaps having a little 4 year old loiterer wasn’t so bad after all, because that apple cake was out of this world. I eventually learned that it’s a pretty typical Spanish dish and not too difficult to make.
As an American, the bar is set pretty high for any sort of apple dessert. I’m from the land of freshly baked apple pies, after all. This apple cake reaches that bar. It’s creamy on the inside, slightly crisp on top, and cinnamony throughout. Plus, I’m in love with the flower design on top made with slices of apples.
It’s delicious fresh out of the oven, but take my word for it: it’s even better cold. Cover with aluminum and stick it in the fridge for a few hours. Magic.
- 5 apples, divided
- 1 cup flour, plus extra for preparing the baking dish
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- Butter for greasing the baking dish
- marmalade or jam for brushing the top
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C or 356F
- Grease the glass baking dish with butter and then cover in flour, making sure it sticks to all of the butter. Shake the excess off and throw it out.
- Peel and slice 3 of the apples and place into a blender. Add the flour, sugar, milk, cinnamon, baking powder, and egg. Blend just until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and set aside.
- Peel the remaining 2 apples and slice. Carefully place the apple slices on top of the batter, cutting them smaller as you reach the center.
- Carefully place the cake in the oven on the center rack and bake for 1 hour, or until the apples turn golden on top.
- When the cake comes out of the oven, brush the top with marmalade
- Let cool on countertop
- Optional: cover with aluminum and refrigerate for 4 hours before serving
- This can be served hot or refrigerated. I personally prefer it cold.