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When I was younger, I wanted to become a pastry chef. I pictured myself whipping up fluffy creations in an assortment of colours and flavours so vivid I could almost smell the aromas of freshly baked cakes wafting through my mind. Cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and lemon filled my daily thoughts and left me craving the sugary delights of my dreams. In reality, the long hours spent in a hot kitchen didn’t really appeal to my younger, less motivated self. So, twenty something years later, I’m a closet baker. I still dream of those same sweet smells, however, now I’m perfectly content to bake purely for the pleasure, and to unleash a little creativity in the kitchen. This way, I get to bake my cakes and eat them too!

 Over the years I’ve tried my hand at an array of different tarts and cakes, many of them Italian in origin, and most of them fairly simple in their execution. I’ve never really been interested in whipping up over the top concoctions brimming with cream and overflowing with sugar. I like my dolci to be balanced, with just the right blend of sweetness, tartness and freshness and always allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine through.


This incredibly tasty Sicilian apple cake is my absolute favourite dessert recipe and one that I return to time and time again. It has everything you could ask for in a cake; moist buttery batter laced with marsala-soaked raisins, crunchy toasted walnuts and creamy pine nuts all layered perfectly with tangy lemon soaked granny smith apples to make the world’s most delicious cake. Yep, I can say with absolute certainty that with this apple cake the Sicilians have created the most wonderful sweet treat ever invented. And to prove my point, if you search the internet for ‘Sicilian Apple Cake’ you’ll notice that every recipe is almost identical in its ingredients and method; there is nothing that you could change to make this wonderful cake more perfect than it already is. And you know I always encourage creativity within a recipe, well, this time there’s just no need. However, be warned, once you make this cake you will eat it all. I baked it yesterday for a lovely friend and I to share for morning tea and now there’s only one piece left. I ate my third piece at 10pm last night and another portion at 7am this morning. And I’ll be devouring that last morsel the minute I walk in the front door this afternoon. You’ve been warned!



  • 1/3 cup sultanas soaked in 1 part warm water 1 part marsala for at least an hour

  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled cored and sliced

  • Zest and juice of ½ a lemon

  • 3 large eggs (I only had small eggs, so I used 4)

  • 70g walnuts, toasted and broken into chunks

  • 150g raw sugar

  • 150g plain flour (or a little less if you prefer GF flour)

  • 120g unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup pine nuts

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

  • Icing sugar for dusting


 Preheat oven to 170C and toast the walnuts (whole) for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin (preferably one with a removeable base) with baking paper and drizzle a little of the melted butter around the base and sprinkle with some of the toasted broken walnuts. Toss the sliced apples in a bowl with the lemon juice and zest and mix gently, making sure you coat all of the lemon slices. Drain the sultanas and set aside.

In a separate bowl, vigorously mix the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add the baking powder and sift in the flour and mix well until there are no lumps in the batter. Add remaining melted butter.

Pour 1/3 batter into the cake tin, sprinkle with 1/3 sultanas, a 1/3 walnuts, 1/3 pine nuts and layer with 1/3 of the apples. Repeat this step twice more. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and any remaining pine nuts and bake for approximately 50 mins or until golden and firm to touch.

Once cool, after about 30 minutes, dust with icing sugar and serve with strong espresso or a glass of good quality marsala wine.

If you enjoyed this delicious Sicilian cake as much as I do, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Buon appetito!