The town of Marsala is located in the northwest part of Sicily and produces a fortified wine bearing her name.
In the late 1700’s the wine was ‘fortified’ with Brandy thus giving it a longer shelf life for all those seafaring men.
I recently had a neighbor (who is an excellent baker) ask me what the difference is between a dry Marsala and a sweet Marsala. Honestly, I didn’t even know there was a dry and a sweet. Before I lose all credibility, let me explain.
My grandmother used Marsala in all kinds of dishes. She added it to chicken and veal, she put it in her biscotti, cakes and even her cannoli shells.
Now, here’s the thing, there was only ONE bottle of Marsala in the pantry! If I had to make a guess as to which kind she used, I would guess the sweet. To my palate, there does not seem to be a significant difference.
- 10 tablespoons softened butter
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 Granny Smith apples cored, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup Marsala wine
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
- In a small saucepan, combine 4 tablespoons of the butter and the brown sugar. Cook over low heat until blended about 4 minutes.
- Pour into a greased 9-inch spring-form pan. Arrange the sliced apples on top.
- In a medium bowl beat the remaining 6 tablespoons butter until light and fluffy.
- Beat in sugar, eggs and vanilla.
- In a small bowl stir together the dry ingredients.
- Stir together the milk and Marsala wine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the milk and Marsala mixture, beating well after each addition.
- Place walnuts on a baking tray in preheated 350* oven for 5 minutes. Finely chop, stir into the batter and pour over the apples.
- Wrap aluminum foil around the bottom of the pan to capture any juices, thus saving yourself a sticky messy clean-up.
- Bake at 350* for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when it’s done.
- Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or so before removing the ring. Invert on a pretty plate and if you’re feeling a bit naughty a scoop of vanilla gelato would be nice.
** Note-Don’t let cake cool completely in pan before inverting because the brown sugar topping may stick to the pan.