Grandma’s Jewish Apple Cake

Now that October is upon us, it’s time to start breaking out the fall flavors. We’re going to start with some apple loving… which is weird, since I generally don’t like apples. It all has to do with when I was a kid. I got really sick one year and the doctor prescribed this medication that tasted horrible. My parents used to put it in apple juice or mix it up in apple sauce to make me eat it. I have loathed most forms of apple ever since. The only two forms that I do love (no, I’m afraid I don’t like caramel apples as they get stuck in my teeth) are apple pies and my grandmother’s Jewish Apple Cake.

There’s no finesse to this one. It’s a Bundt cake (link goes to wikipedia for nerdy factual fun about the Bundt pan and its origins) and extremely simple. Fresh apples that have marinated in cinnamon and sugar are interspersed throughout. A little bit of orange juice gives it great flavor. Jewish Apple Cake is awesome for potlucks and best served warm with a side of vanilla ice cream. When the ice cream melts a little and the cake soaks it up, there’s nothing quite like it.

And before you ask, here’s the answer to the question I always get about this recipe: I have no idea what makes it Jewish. Grandma passed down the recipe to us, and that was the name. If anyone can figure out why it’s labeled as Jewish, post below!

Jewish Apple Cake Apples
5 – 6 tart, firm apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Fill a medium mixer bowl with peeled and sliced apples, sugar and cinnamon. Cover and let sit while working on the rest of the cake. Stir periodically.

Jewish Apple Cake Batter:
4 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup orange juice
6 eggs

Mix all batter ingredients together, using a rubber scraper to make sure all of the dry ingredients are included. Grease and flour tube (Bundt) pan. Pour 2 inches of batter in. Cover with approximately 1/2 of the apples. Pour remaining batter into the tube pan, then top with the rest of the apples.

That’s it. Here’s the pictorial version:

Step 1. Apples!

Step 2. Pour mixed ingredients in!

Step 3. More apples!

Step 4. More batter!

Step 5. Even more apples!

After you’ve topped this with the remaining apples, there’s also a lot of sugar and cinnamon mixture that gets poured on top. My Bundt pan is a little small, so I put a foil-lined tray on the bottom rack, centered beneath the cake. The tray captures any drippings that may come out while the cake is rising – something to be wary of, since cooked sugar is a pain to scrub off of a surface.

Bake on 350-degrees F for 2 hours. Let sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Caution: If you let it sit any longer than 10 – 15 minutes, the cake will stick. Top with powdered sugar. Serve with vanilla ice cream! Jeni Briton’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream would be a great choice.

Here’s the finished product. The nice thing about topping it with powdered sugar is that if some of your cake does happen to stick and you need to sort of put a chunk back on top, the sugar can sort of hide it. Not that any of us would ever do that, especially me, an experienced Jewish Apple Cake Baker.

Bon appetit!

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