Jewish Apple Cake

Tonight is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. As with all Jewish holidays, the celebration is associated with different types of food, and in this part of the world, at least, apple figure most prominently on that list. This is, after all, the time of year when apples are ripening on the trees, fresh and juicy, waiting to be picked and enjoyed. The tradition of dipping apples into honey is one of the most powerful images of Rosh Hashanah, as we wish our family and friends a sweet new year.

This apple cake is another tradition that my family has long enjoyed. I’m not sure where this recipe originated. I have seen it handed down and passed along from friend to friend, in magazines clippings and newspapers food columns, and I’m sure it exists in several places on the Internet. If it’s so popular, it is for a very good reason, and that’s because, as someone once told me, it’s a quality cake. It is chewy and dense, without being heavy, and it keeps very well for a few days in an airtight container. This cake is always a treat, and is suitable for all the fall festivals, as well as Thanksgiving, which is coming up soon too.

You can use any sort of apple except Delicious, which tend to disintegrate and become mush when baked. I used Granny Smith this time. I’ve used other types in the past. I have a handy-dandy apple machine that a sweet friend bought me once, which peels, cores, and slices the apple in one go. My daughter has the magic touch.

Sliced apple, with my handy-dandy apple slicer.

Sliced apple, with my handy-dandy apple slicer.

Jewish Apple Cake

  • 4 cups peeled and thinly sliced apples
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375F and prepare a 10-inch bundt pan.

In a large bowl, combine the apple slices, the 1/3 cup sugar, and the cinnamon. Mix well and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, the 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre, then add the wet ingredients (oil, eggs, juice and vanilla). Beat in, mixing till smooth.

Add a third of the batter to the bundt pan, and then arrange half the apples onto the batter, making sure the slices do not touch the sides or central column. Pour in another third of the batter, then the rest of the apples, and finally, the remaining third of the batter.

If you feel brave, try dividing the batter into quarters and adding three layers of apple slices.

Bake at 375F for 1 to 1¼  hours, until a probe inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let cool slightly, then invert the cake onto a serving dish. Sprinkle with icing sugar, which both tastes good and disguises any bits that didn’t come out of the pan perfectly.

Sit back and smile when your guests rave about the cake.

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The first layer of batter and arranged apple slices

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Baked and out the oven

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This is the moment of truth…. what does the cake look like as it emerges from the bundt pan? Enough icing sugar dusted on top can disguise a multitude of sins.

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