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.
I’ve just updated this post with a few new pictures, added weight measurements, and a suggestion for making the cake in mini loaves or muffins. I know it’s a bit late for Rosh Hashanah, but this cake works well anytime there are good apples. So, whether you’re going to make it for break fast after Yom Kippur or any time during apple season – enjoy!
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 usually just sprinkle confectioner’s (powdered) sugar on top, as I do for my poppy seed cake. You can make this cake ahead of time and freeze it, well wrapped, for a week or longer. But I warn you, the smell is divine. You may not be able to resist taking a taste before you put it away.
If you can’t resist taking tasting your handiwork, make a batch of mini loaves or muffins along with a bundt 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 raucous 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. Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah foods include apples (of which this cake has plenty), honey, and other sweets to make for a sweet new year.
Of course, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this apple cake. And it makes a great addition to the meal after the Yom Kippur fast if you do celebrate the Jewish High Holidays.
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 requires neither sifting nor precision.
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.
To see how easy it is to make this Jewish Apple Cake, check out the video in the recipe card below.
Tips for Making Apple Cake
- Oil the pan well. Take it from me. Oil the pan well or the cake will stick as you try to unmold it. I have used icing to “glue” pieces back on the top when the cake refused to come out of the bundt pan. But it’s not a pretty sight.
- Use at Least 2 Types of Apples. Like a good apple pie, this cake tastes best when you use 2-3 different kinds of apples. One sweet, one tart, and one “interesting” are a great combination.
- Cut the Apples into Small Chunks. The apples will stay at whatever size you cut them into. They don’t shrink or dissolve. So bite-sized is best. I find it’s easiest to cut them into quarters or use an apple corer to make large slices. Then slice those chunks in half or thirds and chop the slices into pieces about 1-inch long.
- If Using Loaf Pans or Muffin Tins, Adjust the Baking Time. You can make this cake in mini loaf or muffin versions instead of a bundt pan. With those smaller versions, I found that the baking time is about two-thirds of what it would be for cake baked in a bundt pan. My best advice if using a different pan size is to check after about 40 minutes. Do that by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the middle. If it comes out clean, the mini loaf, muffin or other shaped cake is done. Let it cool and then unmold it. (You don’t need to unmold if you use paper or foil muffin cups.)
An easy, non-dairy apple cake that is sure to please.
- 1 cup canola or other neutral oil + bit additional for coating the pan 236 ml.
- 2 cups granulated sugar 14 oz/360g
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour 12 & 3/4 oz/360g
- 1 cup raisins A combination of dark and golden yields a nice color and taste contrast. 6 oz/170g
- 1/3 cup orange or apple juice 78 ml
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups apples, peeled, sliced thin and then chopped. See note about size of apple pieces About 2-4 medium-sized apples. 12 oz/339 g
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped 4 oz/113 g
- 2-3 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar optional
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. In a pinch, if you don't have juice, use hot water or water mixed with a few drops of orange or lemon oil.
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 slice each quarter in half or thirds and chop the slices into pieces about 1-inch long. The apple pieces remain whole in the cake as it bakes, so you don't want them too large. If you're not immediately going to add the apples to the batter, sprinkle a bit of lemon juice on the chunks to keep them from browning.
- Microwaving the juice (or water) before adding the raisins, causes the raisins to absorb the liquid and plump up.