Traditional Apple Cake from Trentino

Trentino milk and apple cake without baking powder

This super easy apple cake, or Tortel as it is called, comes from Trentino—northern Italy—and requires only 5 simple ingredients: milk, flour, sugar (little), eggs, and apples. Those who prefer less sweet desserts will love this apple cake, which pairs well with fruit.

A few days ago, it was my father-in-law’s birthday, so I wanted to make him a nice surprise.  I baked this delicious cake with a few ingredients that I had in my pantry. I was paging through a magazine and stopped at a traditional recipe from Trentino, an area where we often spend our holidays. It’s a pristine area full of breathtaking scenery. You would love this place even if you are not fond of mountains. I have always opted for the seaside, but after a few hours among those majestic, towering mountains, I thought that I would never want to go back home.  

Trentino where the people are friendly and genuine

People in Trentino are friendly, very kind, and helpful. They welcome you in their hotels as if they are in their own homes. You get to experience real life in the mountains where you become part of their family. They are sincerely respectful, hospitable, and helpful rather than obliging or annoying.

This cake is as simple as the people from Trentino; it’s as genuine as their attitude and lifestyle. 

I have looked into the history of this recipe, which is similar to a cake once called “Torta Simona Trentina” that was combined with cabbage salad. Cabbage salad? Yes, because it was not very sweet, it could be paired with savory food, best with potatoes rather than apples. 

What does this unusual but simple cake taste like? 

It is a bit sweet but not too much; it perfectly fits as a healthy breakfast or any time you want to surprise your guests. It is also an appreciated gift for those who are on a low-calorie diet. It tastes like a chewy custard tart with apples. Prepare this cake in the evening, warm it for a delicious breakfast. 

Trentino traditional milk and apple cake without baking powder

Trentino traditional milk and apple cake without baking powder

Super easy apple cake: 5 genuine simple ingredients: milk, flour, sugar (little), eggs and apples. 
Those who prefer not very sugary tastes will love this apple cake! Well, read all the recipe …it will you make droll. 
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Keyword milk and apple cake without baking powder, tortel, trentino apple and tortel
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 people


  • 2 1/4 cups of whole or 2% milk (lactose intolerant may use lactose-free milk)  (500ml)
  • 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour  (200g)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 large or extra-large eggs 
  • 2 Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp apples (pears work well too)
  • 2 tbs of sugar for the top of the cake
  • 1 pinch of salt 
  • lemon zest 


  • Use a whisk to beat the eggs; 
  • Add the sugar and beat well; 
  • Sift in the flour, add a pinch of salt and the lemon zest; stir until perfectly incorporated without any lumps; 
  • Gradually pour in the milk and beat just until it’s well combined;
  • Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper; 
  • Peel and coarsely dice the apples;
  • Pour the batter into the baking pan along with the diced apples; the batter is quite liquid, so the apple pieces will sink to the bottom, but don’t worry; it is ok. The texture will change when baked;
  • Pre-heat the static oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake for about 35 minutes; 
  • After 35 minutes, quickly open the oven and evenly sprinkle the cake with sugar; bake for another 5 minutes in the oven; 
  • Let the cake cool down in the oven with the door slightly open; 
  • It may flatten when you take it out of the oven, but it is ok. The edges should be crispy and lightly browned; that’s the tastiest part of the cake.

The apple cake keeps up to 2 or 3 days in a cake container at room temperature, but you will eat it up much earlier!  

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3 thoughts on “Traditional Apple Cake from Trentino

    1. Hello Hemma! Happy to know you! I say yes, you can. You may bake this cake in a round or square tin; it’s up to you. Just make sure it’s big enough. I recommend using a 24×24 cm (or 9×9 inches or a little bigger) square tin. Please let me know if you like this recipe 😉 Can’t wait to see your creation!

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