Parents Need to Eat Too

L’Shana Tova, Everyone!

L’Shana Tova, Everyone!

The other day I asked you all to submit your favorite apple cake recipes. I got quite a few delicious-looking submissions (thanks!), but most were a variation on the same “Jewish” Apple Cake recipe that’s in Joan Nathan’s The Jewish Holiday Kitchen: 250 Recipes from Around the World to Make Your Celebrations Special. And that means they also look an awful lot like Mom’s Apple Cake over at Smitten Kitchen. Who knew there were so few good apple cake recipes in the world?

One particularly good-looking suggestion was Cooking Light’s Cinnamon-Apple Cake, submitted by a reader named Sheryl. The only problem: It calls for cream cheese, which means my kosher family can’t serve it after a meat meal. I’ll save that one for another time. The winner came from waaaay across the planet. It’s from Melanie at Frugal Kiwi (in New Zealand, naturally), and it’s her mom’s recipe. As she wrote, “Want an explosion of fresh apple? My mum’s recipe will do it. With 3 cups of apple to 3 cups of flour, it only JUST holds together, but the taste is so divine, you won’t mind the crumble.” Who can resist such a tempting description? Harry and I made it this morning to bring to my folks’ tonight, and now our whole apartment smells autumnal. What a warm, cozy way to begin a new year.

The biggest difference between this cake and the other recipes is that they all call for alternating layers of apple and batter, while the apples are mixed in for Melanie’s. Harry and I made it by hand, and I must warn you: it’s a very thick batter. Very. And that’s before you stir in the apples. For a minute there I considered breaking out the handheld mixer, but Harry’s brute strength prevailed. (I kid, I kid. I’m the brute in this family.)

I took the liberty of adding a bit of cinnamon, and I used a bit more lemon juice than the recipe called for—I drizzled some on the apples after chopping. But otherwise, it’s the recipe Melanie sent me. I think it’s a winner, but the real test will be after dinner tonight. Can’t wait to try it! There were some substantial-looking crumbs to taste, but my sous-chef snagged them all…

Patricia’s Awesome Apple Cake
Serves 12 [I think]

2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups oil of your choice 
[I use canola. ETA: in 2012 I used coconut oil and it was FANTASTIC. And one reader posted on Facebook that she replaced half the oil with applesauce & reduced the sugar slightly. Such a great idea! Totally trying it next year.]
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 well-beaten eggs
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon [this is my addition, totally optional]
3 cups peeled and chopped fresh apple, drizzled with a bit of additional lemon juice to prevent browning (I prefer Granny Smith for this recipe)
[3-4 apples]
1 ½-2 cups pecans (delicious, but optional)

[I let Harry decide, and he nixed them]

Preheat oven to 325 (160C). Grease a tube pan and dust with flour.

Combine sugar, oil, vanilla extract, eggs, lemon juice, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Beat well. Mix flour and baking soda then add to the first mixture and beat well. Add apples and pecans, if using, and mix well. Pour into prepared tube pan.


[Batter is very thick, and the ratio of apple-to-batter is almost identical. Be prepared for a workout!]

Because there’s so much apple in here, it’s hard to tell when it’s done—the old “stick a toothpick in, and if it comes out clean it’s done” test won’t work. So I turned to Joan Nathan’s recipe for guidance. She says:

Bake 1 ½ hours, until golden on top. Let sit a few minutes, then unmold.

That apple-to-batter ratio really makes for a crumbly, delicate cake. Do nottry to move it once you’ve taken it out of the pan! I attempted the always-tricky flip-the-cake-rightside-up maneuver, and barely averted disaster. It almost collapsed under the weight of all those apples. Hopefully once it’s fully cooled it’ll hold together a little better, or else I don’t know how I’ll get it to my folks’. Say a little Rosh Hashanah prayer for my cake, will you?

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Here's my grandmother's:
    Apple Cake (Ruth Thompson)
    2 cups diced apple
    1 cup sugar
    1/3 cup oil
    ½ tsp vanilla
    1 egg
    1 ½ cups flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp cinnamon
    ½ cup raisins
    Combine apples and sugar and let stand 10 minutes. Mix oil, vanilla and egg with apples. Then combine dry ingredients with apple mixture. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.

  2. This sounds awesome! Could I serve it for breakfast at my B&B or is it really more a dessert cake?

  3. MaM, that sounds like a good one!

    Alexandra, we haven't actually tasted the cake yet–it's for tonight's dessert–but I think it's as much of a coffee cake as a dessert.

  4. L'Shana Tova from the Sheryl whose cake you considered…perhaps for another time. I must say that it is worth making.

    And this one sounds awesome – I might have to try this, too!

  5. Ha! Mum will be proud. Enjoy.

    Just be aware the outside only stays crispy for a few hours. Then the moistness of the apple takes over. It is still completely gorgeous, just slightly wetter. I find it normally disappears quickly anyway.

    And congrats for getting it whole out of the pan. With this recipe, that is an accomplishment in itself!

  6. I'm no cook, but I love to eat. This looks divine.

  7. All I can say/write: LOOKS DELISH!

  8. Yum! Looks great for breakfast or dessert.

  9. This is now on my "to bake" list!

    Looks so good, and I love the little Harry hand peeking in the photo!

  10. My neighbor just brought over a bunch of apples from his tree and I had to cut off the brown spots. I chopped them and put them in the fridge and was trying to decide what to do with them. So I'm printing out this recipe right now! I will use whole wheat flour instead of white flour (so much healthier) and agave instead of sugar (I can't eat sugar). I hope it works!! Thanks for the recipe. And happy new year! We've been doing Rosh Hashanah things all weekend. It's a holiday I really love.

  11. Ooooh, I'm dreaming of apple cake now. No fair. 🙂

  12. THIS is what I'm making for book club.

  13. I had to do without lemon juice because it's pouring rain & I'm lazy so I used a smidge of apple juice (we also used cortland apples). It was divine! This is going into the rotation around here for sure.

  14. I just made this for the second time & it came out even better! I really didn't think it was possible. Thank You for posting this Debbie!

  15. In the oven now and I gotta tell you, I couldn't stop licking the beaters and the bowl! The batter is just delicious. I didn't think such a simple recipe would really live up to the hype, but WOW, it sure does! I can't wait for it to come out of the oven!!

  16. So glad to see such enthusiasm for this recipe, especially since it isn't even mine! I'm jealous of all of you–Stephen's bizarro aversion to cooked fruit means I'd have to eat this cake almost single-handedly if I just baked it for fun. Not that I couldn't, but lord I'm getting fat enough even without it.

  17. That looks so yummy

  18. L'Shana Tova to you as well, Debbie. May G-d keep you and bless you and your family throughout the year. And thanks too for the excellent recipes. I'm definitely going to try that apple cake recipe. I've made honey cake already, but what's to stop me from making this too?

  19. You won't be sorry if you do, Greek Girl.

  20. We made it again this year, and again it is fabulous. Can cakes be lacy? It's lacy. 🙂

  21. Lacy is the perfect word for it! The edges are so deliciously delicate.

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