I just finished We’ll Always Have Casablanca, Noah Isenberg’s book detailing the making and long-lasting influence of my very favorite movie. I was especially touched by one of the final vignettes. I learned that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren spends her New Year’s Eves just like I do: With champagne, her husband and yet another viewing of the iconic film.

I shared this information with my husband.

Apparently, he was impressed. He disappeared into the home office and emerged 10 or so minutes later.

“I have emailed Sen. Warren!” he crowed.

“You’ve what?” I asked.

“I have emailed Sen. Warren. I told her we’re unapologetic liberal Democrats, and we spend our New Year’s Eves the exact way she and her husband do. I told her the next time they’re both in town, they should come see us, and we’ll watch “Casablanca” together!”

“You WHAT?” I screamed.

One of three things is going to happen:

  1. My husband’s email will be ignored;
  2. He will be put on some government watch list; or
  3. I will watch “Casablanca” with the senator from Massachusetts.

My bet is on No. 1 (though I fear there may be a bit of No. 2 in our lives). But if No. 3 were to occur … well, that would be awesome.

Kind of like this cake:

It’s a cake, but a pie, too. An apple-laden confection sits atop a pastry crust, giving me and my family the best of both dessert worlds.

It’s an incredible two-for-one punch …

… kind of like a scenario where I watch one of my favorite movies with one of my favorite politicians.

(Are you listening, Senator?)

A Cake & Pie For Elizabeth Warren

This recipe hails from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s The Italian Country Table and is formally called Torta di Mele. The original calls for a crackly meringue topping, but I’ve never had much luck with that portion of the recipe.

I love making this for Sunday night dessert or whenever someone throws a party and says, “Bring a dessert.” It whips up in a single bowl and relies on the magic of the oven for its cake-and-pie metamorphosis.

  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Grease an 8-inch springform pan with butter. Set aside.

Whisk together 2 cups of flour, the sugar and the salt in a large bowl.

Add the butter. With your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture.

Take 1 cup of the crumbs and place them in your springform pan. Press them into the pan’s bottom:

Make a well with the remaining crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of flour and the baking powder. Slowly pour this mixture into the well you’ve created. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the crumbs into the wet ingredients until everything is incorporated.

Add the apples and stir gently:

Pour the batter into the springform pan and smooth the top:

Place your pan on a rimmed baking sheet, then place on a rack in the center of your preheated oven. Bake for 65 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 30 minutes:

Run a knife around the cake’s edges and remove the springform pan’s sides. Let the cake cool to room temperature before serving. You’ll have a feather-light apple cake sitting atop a crunchy pastry crust, which means you can have your cake and eat pie, too!