Sunday, February 10, 2008

jewish apple cake

The first time I'd heard of Jewish apple cake was when I had first started dating Mr.S, I'd asked him what his favorite cake was. Being born and bred in Baltimore, he told me "Jewish apple cake, of course," followed by all sorts of drooling noises and eyes rolling back into his head. As I'd soon discover, like Scrapple, this cake is a regional favorite, being quite popular in bakehouses all over Philadelphia to here in Baltimore. It's an incredibly moist bundt cake, filled and topped with a layer of cinnamon-dusted apple slices. Once I got a whif of this cake, I could easily understand Mr.S's reaction of unrestrained excitement.

So how and why is it Jewish? No one is exactly certain surrounding the origins of the cake (except that it is most likely from Eastern Europe), but it's very similar to an apple cake that's served during Rosh Hashanah. Moreover, the recipe is completely dairy-free, calling for vegetable oil instead of butter, and orange juice instead of milk. Overall, it's a guaranteed fool-proof recipe that will turn out some of the best apple cake you'll ever have. The orange juice flavors the cake with a fragrance that's not tart like lemon, but much sweeter, which accents the apples perfectly. What's more, the apples keep the cake super moist for days.

I bake a huge 10" bundt cake every year now for Mr.S's birthday. I'm sure the recipe can be broken down into smaller amounts for individual Jewish apple cakes (great or gift giving) and cupcakes. Whole Foods sells a small 6" one which I've never tried, because they always look slightly smushed and bruised from the packaging. Besides, why spend $7 on a cake you can so easily bake at home, with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry? (If anyone knows of a local bakery that offers mind-blowing Jewish apple cake, please drop me a line.)

Jewish Apple Cake
makes one 10" bundt cake

3 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10" bundt pan.

2. In a large bowl, gently toss together the apple slices with the 3 Tbsp of sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In a mixer bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange half the apples in a layer over the batter. Pour the rest of the batter into the pan to cover the apples. Finish off by arranging the remaining apples in a layer on top.

4. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the cake turns golden brown. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Let cake cool in the pan. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake and gently invert out onto a plate. Re-invert onto a serving dish. Dust with powdered sugar.


Patricia Scarpin said...

This cake has so many favorite ingredients I know I'd love it!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to surprise my Jewish husband for his birthday yesterday, so I baked my first-ever Jewish apple cake, thinking his mother would immediately recognize the cake and praise me for my attempt at cultural sensitivity. Well, my Jewish mother-in-law had NEVER heard of it, and kept insisting that I must have the name wrong. LOL.
I learned about this cake while living in the Philadelphia region. I agree with you--I think its a regional favorite of a questionable history. But it was foolproof and fantastic. I'll be baking this one often.

Anonymous said...

My mothers food (esp. her Jewish Apple Cake) was legendary in our east Baltimore neighborhood. She passed away with the ingredients in her head, and I have been longing for this recipe for well over 20 years. This is Mom's on the dot.

Thanks from Alaska!!! if you could only duplicate her Portuguese Chicken!

Amanda said...

Born and raised in Baltimore, now transplanted to Omaha, NE, my husband has been craving a Jewish apple cake for months...ours is currently baking as we speak. I definitely agree it's a regional thing and not at all "Jewish." Still tastes delicious!!!