Apple and jam cake

Apple and jam cake

Torta di mele e marmellata

1 cake, serves 8
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

This soft, buttery loaf cake, with chopped apple and apricot jam swirled through the top, is essentially a dressed-up pound cake (Italians charmingly call it a ‘plum cake’, using the English words but pronouncing the ‘u’ as ‘oo’.) It’s inspired by a cake that I succumbed to more than once at Il Forno del Porto, my local bakery in Porto Ercole, especially during times when the oven at home was off limits. As we made the rounds of the port on our daily ritual, picking up groceries from the fruttivendolo (fruit and vegetable shop) or the pescheria (fish shop), my toddler, usually dressed in a tutu of some kind, would always be given something from shop owners – in the forno it was one of their little pink or white meringues, as fluffy and light as a cloud.

Highly adaptable, this cake can be made in many different ways. I often combined polenta with the regular flour for a rustic cake with a good crumb. You can leave out the apple or exchange it for another fruit (pear, apricots, berries or plums would all be nice). Just don’t skimp on whipping the eggs – it’s what makes this cake so soft and fluffy without any other rising agents.


Quantity Ingredient
250g butter, at room temperature
250g sugar
1 lemon, zested
4 eggs, at room temperature
250g plain flour
1 apple, cored, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons apricot jam
icing sugar, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease an 11 x 26 cm loaf (bar) tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar with the lemon zest until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each. Once all the eggs are in, beat continuously until very, very pale and fluffy. This takes about 7 minutes with electric beaters.
  3. Fold in the flour carefully until it is just combined. Pour into the loaf tin, drop in the diced apple and use a butter knife to swirl through the mixture gently to distribute. Smooth over the top, then dollop the jam down the middle of the cake. Using a (clean!) knife, pointing vertically down about 2–3 cm into the batter, swirl the jam in a zigzag pattern.
  4. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until golden on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the jam on top begins to look like it’s darkening or cooking too quickly, you can cover the cake loosely with some aluminium foil. When cool, dust with icing sugar, if desired.
  5. Serve in thick slices. When wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge, it will stay moist and fresh for 3–4 days.


  • To bring your eggs and butter to room temperature, sit them out on the kitchen counter for at least 30 minutes. I like to chop the butter first to help it along. If you forget to do this (I am guilty of this all the time), do not just use them cold. Put the eggs in a stainless steel bowl full of very warm water for 5 minutes. Instead of chopping the butter, grate it with a cheese grater and leave it spread out on a tray for 5 minutes.
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