Jewish Apple Cake
Hello and happy Autumn! It’s been a while, but I’m back and have a cake to share. I get very excited when autumn approaches. So many endings and beginnings. For one, I start baking again! My friend Cheryl made this cake, brought it to work and said she had a “Jewish Apple Cake” for us to enjoy. Jewish Apple Cake?!! I know that cake very well and we proceeded to talk about the name: “you know it as Jewish Apple Cake too? Why is it Jewish?”, the ingredients: “yep, apples, oil, orange juice, etc.” and how much we love it.
I really got to thinking about why it’s called Jewish Apple Cake. This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember and it’s amazing to me that a lot of people know it, it has the same name and the ingredients are pretty much the same. In my research I discovered this is one of the few recipes where each one has the same ingredients in the same amounts. But, my family is not Jewish and while there was a varied ethnic culture of Italian, Irish, Polish, German, Slovak and others, there was no Jewish population outside of the nearest city 10 miles away. Considering how far back this recipe goes, it is likely that someone got it from someone who got it from someone … who got it from someone who was Jewish! And it also makes sense that my family would have it since everyone shared recipes. My family is Italian and Irish, but my Italian grandmother made a mean Slovak halupki more commonly known as Pigs in the Blanket or stuffed cabbage. My online research reveals that the reason for the “Jewish” part of the apple cake is that there’s no dairy and may be eaten with meals including meat in accordance with Jewish law. Another reference says that it may be closer to a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe and labeled “Jewish” because it’s closer to an old-world recipe. Whatever the roots or ethnicity, it’s delicious.
I’m going through my archives of favorite seasonal recipes, but I’m also inspired by new ones as well. Something on the horizon for a very near future blog post: apple fritters. There’s like a zillion recipes and they’re all pretty similar, but I’ve seen one recently that had corn meal in addition to flour. Also, the apples were grated instead of chopped. Hmmmm…. Doesn’t that sound yummy?
Jewish Apple Cake
Better the next day and freezes really well!
- 3 Cups unsifted flour, plus more for dusting the pan
- 5 medium apples (Granny Smith, McIntosh or another good baking apple)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 Cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 Cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a tube or bundt pan with cooking oil spray and dust lightly with flour. Tap out the excess.
Peel, core and slice the apples in thick slices. Place in a large bowl and toss with the cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of sugar.
Beat the eggs in another bowl on low until well blended. Gradually add the remaining sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla extract.
In another bowl, mix the flour baking powder together. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until smooth.
Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared tube pan. Then layer 1/3 of the apples on top. Repeat the layers ending with the apples. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake sit for about 20 minutes before removing.
Credits: My grandmother’s recipe book and countless online sources.