Fabio and his Fabulous Fabio’s Cake

Fabio's Cake - torta di Fabio

Fabio’s Cake – torta di Fabio

I was invited to attend a tasting and book signing, for Chef Fabio Viviani who’s promoting his new book “Fabio’s Italian Kitchen”, at the culinary school I graduated from. I thought it would be a pleasant evening involving a dish of pasta and an opportunity for him to sell a few books, but I was wrong because it was more than that. For those of you who may not know him, Fabio Viviani was a contestant on Top Chef Season 5 as well as several other Top Chef spin-offs. He’s also the owner of two very successful restaurants in the Los Angeles area, his own cooking show, and of course, a cookbook author.

When Fabio entered the room he was like a whirling dervish, full of energy, his arms constantly moving, so much so that I was unable to get barely one photo of him that wasn’t blurred. When he came to this country in 2005, he spoke not a word of English. He has great command of the language now, but speaks it in an Italian accent so adorable that Sophia Loren would find it endearing. The guy is so funny that if his day job as a successful chef doesn’t work out, he could definitely try his hand at stand up comedy.

But enough of that. Besides his European charm and perfect plates of pasta that he turned out that evening without breaking a sweat, he had a more meaningful message that he shared with us. He spoke at great length about charity and the importance of giving back. He also shared with us a very funny story about being contacted by the First Lady, Michelle Obama to work along side her on one of her causes. I like that he’s not just a guy who talks the talk, but he also walks the walk. He donated all of the proceeds from this evening’s event to Chef Cecilia DeCastro to fund a scholarship for a worthy student to attend her Academy of Culinary Education. Man, what this guy packed into 2 1/2 hours was amazing and certainly explains why he was voted “fan’s favorite” on his season of Top Chef.

Okay, so back to the food.  There’s so many mouth-watering recipes in this book accompanied by stunning photographs that I couldn’t even decide where to begin. Since Mama loves to bake, I chose to start with his “Fabio’s Cake” , and I was thrilled with the result. It’s a moist and rustic cake abounding with chunks of apple and and fresh orange zest. Very fresh and very Italian.

Questo e un dolce molto gustoso.

Fabio's Cake - torta di Fabio

Fabio’s Cake – torta di Fabio

Fabio’s Cake

From Fabio’s Italian Kitchen

  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 cups apples, peeled, cored and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a tablespoon of melted butter and a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan, then lightly dust with flour and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until foamy. With the mixer on low, add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
  3. Pour the batter evenly in the pan and then sprinkle the top lightly with the brown sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes until  golden and when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then unmold. When cake is cooled, dust with some powdered sugar.

Serves 8-12


Fabio Viviani demonstrating homemade pasta.

Mama’s Tips:

To crush the apples: peel, core and chop the apples into chunks, and toss with some lemon juice so they won’t discolor. Place the chopped apples in a large ziplock bag and then wallop with a rolling pin til nicely crushed.


Recipe: Easy

50 Comments on “Fabio and his Fabulous Fabio’s Cake”

  1. I was just about to log out of WordPress and then this post popped up on my Reader! And of course I had to read it. I’m a sucker for a good apple cake. It tastes really fresh and moist, doesn’t it? I have made French apple cake a few times but never Italian. I wouldn’t have thought of adding orange zest to apple cake but it sounds very tasty! Thank you for sharing the recipe. 🙂

  2. – What a fabulous experience you had… a great group photo.
    – Fabio’s cake looks very delectable. I love your photos too. For variety, some walnuts in or on top would be great too! 😀

  3. 3meals2snacks says:

    And you forgot to say how cute he is. Where’s a good piece of cake when you need it? Cheers.

  4. I loved Fabio on Top Chef! He was always positive and upbeat. And he’s easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean….! 😉 And the cake looks just as lovely as he is.

  5. White Pearl says:

    wow this looks fabulous ! I like the recipe and I am sure it would taste that fab too ! Love the post…..Posts related to food always makes me happy 😉

  6. taplatt says:

    Great-looking recipe. Pretty healthy, too! I’m putting it on my “to-make” list.

  7. ritavegas says:

    This cake looks definitely fabulous!So easy to make 🙂

  8. I love this cake so simple and rustic. Great photos as well! I have bookmarked this one to try. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. thebrookcook says:

    What fun to meet Fabio! 🙂 Cake looks good too!

  10. This looks like one of my zia’s cakes that she makes in Italy, and it’s no wonder…Fabio sounds fabulous! Che bella torta!

  11. radhika25 says:

    Missed you! You haven’t posted in some time have you?

  12. Aletta says:

    It looks divine!!

  13. This looks SO EASY! And with that little bit of orange zest, it would be irresistible.

    A person could serve this with brunch, no?

  14. Mama, what a cool event! I loved Fabio that season, he seemed like such a genuine, nice, passionate guy. This cake sounds absolutely delicious. I love baking with olive oil and the orange zest and apple must play so well off each other.

  15. Janet Rörschåch says:

    What fun! When I first read “Fabio” I was thinking that guy with the long hair.

  16. love fabio! this cake looks ideal with a cup of coffee in the morning, in the afternoon with a cup of tea, in the evening with a glass of nice red wine…think you got the picture 😉 http://www.cupcakesandiamonds.wordpress.com

  17. Brooks says:

    Sheryl, I’m so looking forward to apple season to run this recipe through the kitchen. Mr. Viviani is indeed charming and his zeal for life is infectious. What a fabulous evening for you – loved the group shot! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  18. What a fun event and what a cutie Fabio is! Gotta appreciate a person that is committed to giving back to the community! The apple cake looks delicious!

  19. themondaybox says:

    Lovely apple cake! With a little advance preparation, this looks like a pretty quick cake to throw together and have in the oven during dinner.( Warm cake with ice cream for dessert?) Apple cakes always make me think of Rosh Hashanah. I love to try new apple cake variations during the holidays each year. I am adding this one to my collection. 🙂 Thanks!

  20. Jess says:

    wow how lucky you are to have met him! i watched him on top chef and have his cookbook and have been eyeing this recipe actually!!! thank you so much for sharing the pics, etc. i love them

  21. whipadish says:

    Hi there Mama — I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award – you can view it at http://whipadish.wordpress.com/my-awards/ – you can do absolutely nothing about it – but I thought you deserved the award.

    I love your blog and am very much inspired by your photography which are absolutely stunning!


  22. Luksana says:

    Wow, I love Italian style cake. This one looks delicious Mama. Thank you.

  23. Hooray! Food! says:

    I loooove cakes with olive oil in them! Have you ever had olive oil ice cream? It’s to die for!

  24. I’m going to make this cake for afternoon tea with friends this weekend. But I have a question: did you use dessert or cooking apples in it?

  25. Also, is it one of those cakes which is best to make a couple of days before eating or do you recommend eating it quite fresh?

    • Grace, unlike most cakes that are best eaten the day they are baked, this somewhat improves over a couple of days!

      • I often find that cakes improve after a day or two. Fruit cake is the prime example for that, of course. Our family tradition is to make the Christmas fruit cake at the beginning of November, ‘feeding’ it with brandy once or twice a week until Christmas Day, before covering it in marzipan and royal icing. It is divinely rich and moist! I have heard jokes about fruit cake in the States but the European version is quite different. The recipe my mother uses is sublime!

  26. fernancgf says:

    Hi! I love you posts and italian cuisine. I’m studying in Italy and is amazing! I’m starting at WordPress but I really like it. Hope to se new recipes.

    Vi saluto a te e a Fabio! Bellissima l’Italia!!! Anche se sono al nord e non è proprio la zona più famosa dell’Italia.


  27. cloverleaf says:

    Kind of late to the Fabio party, but wanted to chime in: attended one of his cooking demos at his Moorpark restaurant last year and had a blast! I know what you mean about trying to snap a pic of him — he is so animated that almost every pic I shot had his arms in a blur! This recipe looks fantastic. Can’t wait to try it! 🙂

  28. cheryllovesfood says:

    Fantastic recipe and I loved watching Fabio on Top Chef. I remember the episode where he cut himself with a cleaver and as he was talking about it he would call it a “clever” I couldn’t help but chuckle. I love your blog by the way and will be scouting around for recipes to try. If I post them on my blog I will certainly link to you. Thank you and have a beautiful day!

    • Hi Cheryl, thanks for your comments! I too enjoyed watching Fabio on Top Chef and that’s why I jumped at the chance to go see him in person. You should give his cake a try, I think you’ll like it!

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