Torta di Mele
There are many high points to the Christmas season in this alpine region, but the one most favored by children takes place on the night of December 6, The Feast of St. Nicholas, Protector of Small Children. According to legend Nicholas roams the villages of Alto Adige distributing gifts to good boys and girls. But in the typical push-pull between good and evil that characterizes most religious holidays, Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus, a horrendously ugly, hirsute figure representing the devil. Krampus starts his prowl on the night of December 5, when he can be seen combing the streets (and scaring small children to death) in search of those who have been bad so he can spirit them away to his mountain lair and eat them.
Yields 10 slices
Time: 75 minutes
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
1 large egg
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted with
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons warm whole milk
Butter for greasing
Flour for dusting
4 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and halved
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
2 tablespoons water
1. Place the egg, sugar, pinch of salt, and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and process. With the motor running, pour the melted butter through the feed tube and immediately pour in the flour-yeast mixture, vanilla, and milk. Process until the ingredients form a soft dough.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch-round cake pan with sides about 2 inches high. Sprinkle with flour, shaking off the excess.
3. Arrange the dough on the bottom of the pan and level with a spatula.
4. Make a series of superficial incisions on the surface of each apple half, cutting first lengthwise, then widthwise. This forms a grid pattern, but the cuts should not go through to the bottom. Press one apple half into the center of the tart without piercing the bottom of the crust. Press the remaining apples in a circular pattern around the center.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. And bake for 40 to 45 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted into the dough comes out clean.
6. Meanwhile, place the apricot preserves and water in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the preserves are melted.
7. Remove the pie from the oven and baste the entire surface with the preserves. Return to the oven and bake for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, and serve.
All About Pies includes more Apople Pie recipes.
Italian Festival Food
Recipes and Traditions
From Italy's Regional Country Fairs
By Anne Bianchi
Macmillan USA, June 1999
336 pages, with 62 b/w photographs
Recipe Reprinted by permission.
This page created December 1999
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