Petronilla’s apple cake

This to me is THE Apple Cake. It is the one I grew up with and it is delicious. It is also healthy, has it has no butter or oil or any added fat. Italian readers might have already guessed, it comes from an old recipe book that my grandmother owned: le ricette di Petronilla.

Petronilla was an Italian doctor that used to write about cooking and nutrition. The book is interesting not only because some of the recipes, like this apple cake, are truly delicious, but also because it is a window on another lifestyle. For example, in this cake the butter is omitted to make the cake cheaper rather than to make it healthier.

Anyway, hope you will try it!

Apple cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Apple cake


  • 3 apples
  • 2 eggs
  • 2.75 oz. all purpose flour
  • 2.75 oz. whole wheat flour
  • 5 oz. sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup milk
  • pinch of salt


  1. Beat the eggs with the sugar until they puff up and double in volume.
  2. Add the flour, the baking powder, the vanilla extract and enough milk to make the batter smooth, but not quite fluid.
  3. Add 1 apple cut in small slivers to the batter.
  4. Pour half the batter in a buttered cake pan and layer with apple slices.
  5. Cover with the rest of the batter and top with more apple slices.
  6. Bake in the oven at 375F for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through (toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean).
  7. By the way, I substituted half the flour with whole wheat one, but the original recipe is made with just AP flour.


adapted from Petronilla's recipes

This entry was posted in Cake, Dessert, Vegetarian and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Petronilla’s apple cake

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  3. Laura says:

    Ciao, sono in Us ma di Milano. Io sono cresciuta con i libri di Petronilla. Uno mancava alla collezione. Ho sempre pensato che la ricetta fosse di mia nonna. Io metto cinque mele. Tutto è misurato in cucchiai da zuppa e non grammi. E bello sapere che Petronilla e ancora tra noi. Brava grazie!!!

  4. Dara says:

    I am in love with this cake! I am overrun with apples right now, this is perfect.

  5. I’ve never made apple cake before but thinking of making it this year for the first time as I know my son really loves apples. Thanks for your inspiration and I love the top of the cake – so cute having apple decoration!

  6. Mila says:

    Ciao, Bella e sana questa tua torta di mele!

  7. Even though I grew up in Italy, I had never heard of Petronilla before. How interesting, thanks for the good and healthy recipe.

  8. Love it! And I love the light in your picture.

  9. Ooh I have never heard of this cake before but I have a feeling I am going to love making and eating it.
    Great recipe Pola!

  10. wok with ray says:

    I love how those apples beautifully decorated the cake. Made it look delicious. Have a good weekend, Pola!

  11. Vijitha says:

    Hello Pola,
    I love the fact that the recipe has no butter or oil. I like to use apple puree or apple butter for natural sweetness and that also helps to moisten the cake. Loved your healthy recipe.

  12. This looks really lovely. I’ve got a surfeit of apples at the moment, so I’ve bookmarked this post for future reference!

  13. Ramona says:

    That is one beautiful apple cake!! I love your presentation. 🙂

  14. stefania says:

    Perfetta !
    complimenti ciao

  15. How interesting! I hadn’t heard of Petronilla before, I assumed that it was a girl’s name 🙂

  16. That is such a beautiful cake! I really love this recipe and the simplicity of it. I could easily make this with rice milk for my SIL as a great dairy free dessert too!! 🙂

  17. Hyosun Ro says:

    I love the fact that this recipe has no butter or oil. Interesting that was done to make a cheaper cake. I bought tons of apples from a farm stand this past weekend on the way back from a drive to Shenandoah for fall foliage. Guess who’s making this cake soon…

  18. Perfect – beautiful and simple.

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