Every fall I look forward to making this apple cake. While it’s a Jewish High Holy Day tradition (especially for Rosh Hashanah), the cake has universal appeal. I have no idea when I first began making it, except that it has been a staple at my Rosh Hashanah dinners for decades.
Moist and sweet without being overbearing, you could serve this apple cake with whipped cream or ice cream on the side. But honestly, it’s so good on its own, I don’t know why you would bother. No fancy icing either – I simply sprinkle confectioner’s (powdered) sugar on top, as I do for my poppy seed cake.
Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) is a holiday that even Jews who don’t consider themselves religious often celebrate. Unlike the secular new year, the Jewish holiday is not about raucuous partying. It begins a period of 10-day period of contemplation that leads up to a day of fasting on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
While the Rosh Hashanah has a spiritual side, it is Jewish, so there is food too – and plenty of it. (Even the Yom Kippur fast is followed by a delicious meal.) Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah foods include apples (of which this cake has plenty), honey, and other sweets to make for a sweet new year.
The ingredients for this apple cake are simple and inexpensive.
Plus, if you have “fear-of baking”, then this is the dessert for you. The conventional wisdom is that baking is an exacting process, requiring sifting and exacting measurements. Not so with this cake. It does not require sifting and you can breathe easy about the measurements. You won’t ruin the result if your measurements are a bit off.
Finally, if you are kosher this cake is for you. (The rules of kashrut do not allow butter or other dairy in a meal that includes meat.) This cake is dairy-free. That makes it pareve, and perfect for your meat meal.
If you do not celebrate Jewish holidays, you’ll still love this apple cake. It is, quite simply, a wonderful way to enjoy apples in the fall – for dessert, brunch, or an afternoon coffee/tea break.
To see how easy it is to make this Jewish Apple Cake, check out the video:
An easy, non-dairy apple cake that is sure to please.
- 1 cup canola or other neutral oil + bit additional for coating the pan
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup raisins A combination of dark and golden yields a nice color and taste contrast.
- 1/3 cup orange or apple juice
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups apples, peeled and chopped About 2-4 medium-sized apples.
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and oil a bundt pan well, making sure to coat all the crevices.
- Heat the juice, add the raisins and soak them (to plump them up) while you prepare the other ingredients. I heat the juice by microwaving it on high for about 1 minute.
- Mix the oil and sugar in the bowl.
- Then add the eggs and mix again.
Add the flour in 2-3 batches, mixing after each one. As you add it, the mixture gets stiff.
Mix in the raisins and juice in which they are soaking.
Add in the salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and vanilla and stir the mixture thoroughly.
Dump the apple chunks into the batter and mix it again.
Finally, add in the chopped walnuts, again mixing until they are combined into the batter.
- By fork or spoonfuls, move the batter into the greased bundt pan and smooth the top out with the spatula. The batter is stiff - way too thick to pour.
- Bake the cake for 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes, until a knife inserted in it comes out clean (no wet batter sticking to the knife.)
Let the cake cool in the pan sitting on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. After the cake has cooled, gently run a knife edge around the outside and inside of the tube, place a plate or the wire cooking rack on the top of the cake and turn it over. The cake should release when you flip it over. If it doesn't, turn it back up and gently work the knife in a bit farther bent from the outside rim toward the center. Let it cool further.
- Once the cake is completely cool, you can dust it lightly with confectioner’s sugar.
A bundt pan is best for this cake. If you use another pan (such as a 10-inch round), adjust the baking time accordingly.
Neutral oils include canola, safflower, and grapeseed. Olive, sesame, and similar oils do not work well in this recipe because their taste is too strong.
Many apple varieties work well in this cake, including Golden and Red Delicious, and Granny Smith. Macintosh and Rome are too soft. I prefer a mixture of 2-3 varieties. I slice them into quarters, then halve each quarter and chop the slices into pieces about 1-inch long. If you're not immediately going to add them to the batter, sprinkle a bit of lemon juice on the apple chunks to keep them from browning.
Microwaving the juice before adding the raisins, causes the raisins to absorb the liquid and plump up.