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Sep 26, 2011 11:31 AM

WSJ Recipe for Torta di Mela--Anyone Try It?

Hi All,

I was thinking of baking this on Wed, for Rosh Hashanah dessert. I read one review on the WSJ's site that said it was very dry and tasteless. Someone else didn't agree w/the baking times, but that can just be oven-specific. Anyway, I am just wondering if it is as good as it looks like it is, or if people would warn me off?

If you did make it and tinkered with the recipe, do let me know what worked.


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  1. I haven't made it, but I definitely saved it. It looked lovely and very appealing, but maybe you should do a dry run to make sure it's what you're after? It is so easy to make.

    7 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      I'd love to do that, but what with work and a 2.5 year old, I don't have the time. Of course, perhaps if I weren't on CH, I would! It sure does look like a good dessert.

      1. re: brownie

        Sounds like time is really tight. I doubt I'll make it before you do, so if you do make it, I'd love to hear how it turns out!

        1. re: roxlet

          I'll report back, for sure! Maybe the poster, on the WSJ, just doesn't like a crumbly crust. I, on the other hand, am all for that, as long as it's a little sweet. Anyway, i'll let you know!

      2. re: roxlet

        In a word, awful. It was dry and flavorless, except for the parts where the lemon zest weirdly rose to the top, then, it was kind of disgusting. You just don't want that much lemon zest in one bite. Maybe that other recipe, linked below, somewhere, is better. Definitely avoid this one!

        Though, having said all that, my husband loved it. So, go figure. Everyone else thought it was gross!

        1. re: brownie

          I ended up using the linked recipe from duespaghetti, with the addition of some vanilla. It's purportedly not too dry, not too pudding-like and the texture lived up to billing. I did overbake it slightly, my fault there. The lemon flavor is supposed to come through distinctly and it did, in a nice way. Also, it's not meant to be too sweet and it wasn't. I'd try to find the best apples you can, though. It will make a difference here.

          As far as I'm concerned, the cake is good enough, but not a knockout. I'm no fan of any apple cake, though, so it could just be me. It was easy to make but, on the whole, I'd go back to making Jewish apple cake in the future.

          1. re: rockycat

            I'd definitely make a more traditional Jewish apple cake. But, then again, as a friend of mine said: why wouldn't you make a chocolate dessert?! And then make applesauce or apples and honey? She is so right!
            Actually, for some reason, last year, I made this insanely delicious lemon-cornmeal cake and, by gum, I should've made it this year, too.
            Basically, the best I could say of this torta was that it tasted like the kind of pastry you'd get in Italy at a 2nd-tier bakery. Dry, flavorless. And, you know, I did use really good apples and they were the only good part. Mind you, a killer crostata, like ones we had this summer on an Italy trip, definitely make a person remember that there is more than tiramisu to great Italian baking.

          2. re: brownie

            Odd to come across this thread. I made the cake over the weekend after seeing the recipe in the WSJ. Looked easy and appetizing.

            And it turned out to be quite the disappointment. I blame part of the failure to the rubbish apples (I live in Dubai so it's next to impossible to find properly tart, fresh apples), but the cake itself was dry and flavorless. It rose quite a bit and the claimed melding of apples with the batter didn't happen as the recipe promised.

            So while it wasn't awful, the only saving grace was the big scoop of ice cream that I served with it and two hungry boys and one hungry husband took care of the cake.

        2. Other than the raisin and pignolis, the WSJ recipe looks very similar to this one from Williams Sonoma that I'll be making tomorrow.

          I haven't tried it yet, but I generally find that their reviewers are pretty reliable. Good luck with your baking and have a sweet new year.

          ETA: I just followed out a link from one of th WSJ commentors. It led to his/her website with another version of the cake, this one with lovely pictures. You might want to have a look at this recipe, too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rockycat

            Yes, I'd recommend the OP look at the duespaghetti recipe too -- it inspired a little more confidence in me about this cake. I noticed that Yellow Delicious apples are recommended there. Don't see how you could go wrong with this basic idea, though.

          2. i was hoping to post before it was too late.... sorry but the WSJ will print literally anything.

            2 Replies
            1. re: j8715

              I've rarely had success with recipes from newspapers - regardless of which paper it is - the Journal, the NYTimes, my hometown papers.

              I imagine it has a lot to do with the lack of proper testing of recipes that a cooking magazine will do.

              1. re: j8715

                I've almost always had success with the NYT recipes, but was foolish to trust the WSJ! Should've known... But yeah, Roland Parker, I'm right there with you on the dry and tasteless. What a waste of nice Gala apples (just so's you know, even with great, local apples, the cake still was lousy!).