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?