Jewish Apple Cake is one of my favorite food memories from my high school years. It was one of the cakes that the girls made in Home EC as a project. A lot of you probably have never heard of Home Ec either.
I could always count on the new class making Jewish apple cake, and thankfully I was always asked to sample the cakes the girls in the class made.
This cake truly is an American Classic and is definitely a cake that you need to make. Trust me on this one. Your friends and family will love you forever when you serve them a slice of this delicious apple cake!
What is a Jewish Apple Cake?
A Jewish Apple Cake is a dense cake made with apples. Suspected to have originated in Poland, this delicious cake was well known in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
The Cake is made with vegetable oil, unlike many American cakes, which are usually made with butter. Because it doesn’t contain any dairy products, the cake can be eaten after a meat meal under the Jewish dietary laws that prohibit mixing meat and milk.
Did I mention it’s Ah-mazingly Delicious!
What ingredients do I need to make a Jewish Apple Cake?
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make a Jewish Apple Cake. In Chef Speak this is called the Mise en Place, which translates into Everything in its Place.
Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed the cooking process, but it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
Why use oil in this cake instead of butter
The use of oil instead of butter makes the cake pareve, meaning Jewish families who observe Jewish dietary laws can serve it at either meat or dairy meals.
Oil cakes also tend to bake up loftier with a more even crumb, and they stay moist and tender longer than cakes made with butter. Cakes made with butter will taste better, but for this cake, oil is definitely a good choice.
How do I make a Jewish Apple Cake?
Start by prepping the apples.
In a large bowl, toss the chopped apples with the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
What kind of apples should I use?
Whenever anyone mentions baking and apples, the first thought turns to Granny Smith. It may be sacrilege, but I don’t like those apples. And because I’m baking for my family, I use the kind of apples I like.
These are the apples I like to use for baking:
- Pink Lady
This is how you should approach recipes. Use ingredients that you like, not necessarily what the recipe calls for (if it’s an easy substitution).
Prepare the Cake Batter.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir to combine with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition (the batter will start out very thick but will get looser and easier to mix as you continue to add the eggs).
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Prepare the tube pan with butter (or margarine) and flour before adding the cake batter to the pan. Lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper will also help with the release.
Add a thin layer of the cake batter to the bottom of the pan, then add one-quarter of the apples on top of the batter.
Add one-quarter of the remaining cake batter over the top of the apples, spreading it with a rubber spatula.
The batter will not completely cover all of the apples (it will spread when baking). Really, it will… I promise.
Repeat this process two more times with the remaining apples and cake batter, ending with a layer of cake batter.
Remember, the batter will not completely cover the apples. Don’t worry, it’s okay… trust me, I’m a chef.
Okay, I admit I had my doubts. It’s been decades since I made a Jewish Apple Cake, but it came out better than expected. And the house smelled of apples and a time long gone.
Do I have to use a Tube Pan?
That’s really a tough question; I would use a tube pan aka angel food pan if you have one. If not, a 12-cup bundt pan should work; a 10-cup bundt pan might be cutting it too close.
Food stirs memories, and this delicious cake certainly brought me back to a simpler time when a delicious slice of cake on the bus home from school made me happy.
How do I get the cake out of the pan?
Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15-20 minutes before attempting to remove it. Do not let the cake cool completely before removing it.
Most cakes are best unmolded from their pan while they are still warm; otherwise, they may stick to the pan.
If the cake won’t come out of the pan, place the pan on a stove burner on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. That will help the cake release from the pan.
FAQ Jewish Apple Cake
I suggest a tube pan with a removable bottom. These pans are also used for angel food cakes.
You can use a 12-cup bundt pan to make this cake. A 10-cup pan may be too small.
Traditionally, everyone suggests Granny Smiths. Personally, I don’t like them. I suggest using Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady. Winesap or Jonathon.
This apple cake is often made on Rosh Hashana to celebrate the eating of a new fruit such as apples. The use of oil makes the cake pareve, meaning Jewish families who observe Jewish dietary laws can serve it at either meat or dairy meals.
Yes, you can. Oil will make a higher, more tender cake that will last longer, but a butter cake will taste better.
These are the spatulas I use in my kitchen. They are durable, heat resistant and easy to keep clean.