Renette, The Little Queen of Apples
The humble apple can most certainly be declared the most powerful of all earthly fruits when we consider its ancient biblical origins and the consequences eating one had for Adam and Eve.
Northern Italy, especially the Trentino-Alto Adige region, has had a long history of apple production and is the epicenter for the production of over four million varieties of apples! Italy is the world’s sixth largest producer of apples. One in five apples sold to Italians comes from the Trentino area. Two of the most popular types are Golden Delicious and Renette. They are used in northern Italy to make such classic sweets as apple strudel and are incorporated into general cooking as well, often paired with veal and pork to make savory crochette.
I stumbled upon Renette apples in the mercato (outdoor market) in Mondovi’ in the province of Cuneo’ in Piemonte and was completely taken by their beauty and size. Their yellow greenish skin is splattered with red cheeks and their flesh is juicy and firm with a clean, almost lemony taste. Renette, meaning little queen, is related to our Pipin. It has a long history, originating in Holland during the 1700’s but made its way into France and Italy where it grows especially well in the Trentino and Piedmont regions. Italians love to use this apple not just for eating but for baking, making such confectionery treats as torta di mele, an exquisite apple cake from Mondovi’, that is perfect for fall and winter eating.
Mondovi’ Apple Cake
3 large Golden Delicious or Pipin apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup dry Marsala wine
5 tablespoons butter, softened
3 eggs, separated
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Place apple slices in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and mix in the Marsala. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Cream the butter and remaining 1 cup sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time until well blended.
Drain the apple slices over a bowl and add the reserved liquid to the egg yolk mixture and stir well.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the yolk mixture. Stir until combined.
Separately beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form, then fold into the egg yolk batter.
Spread half of the batter into a buttered and parchment paper lined 9- inch spring form pan. Arrange the apple slices in several layers over the batter. Cover the apples with the remaining batter, smoothing it evenly over the top.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tested comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake.
Cool 10 minutes. Unlatch sides and serve cake in slices. Best served warm.
Crocchette di Cuneo’
Meat Croquettes Cuneo’ Style
1 pound ground veal
1 Golden Delicious or Pipin apple, peeled and minced or grated
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup red wine
In a bowl combine the veal, apple, egg and salt. With wet hands form elongated meatballs. Coat each one in flour and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and brown the croquettes evenly, then add the wine. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Serve hot.
More apple recipes at www.ciaoitalia.com