I’m pretty sure everyone thinks that they or their mother have the best Jewish apple cake recipe. But trust me, I do. My mom’s apple cake recipe is the best!
A moist yet dense cake, it’s layered with fresh apples and lots of cinnamon and sugar. When this Jewish apple cake is baking, the entire house smells amazing. It’s the most perfect fall dessert!
Let me show you how to make Jewish apple cake the way my mom and generations before her have made it.
Why is it called “Jewish” Apple Cake?
Jewish apple cake is often served at holiday meals like Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year. Eating this sweet fruit symbolizes the hope for a sweet new year.
Because it contains no dairy products, it is considered kosher (i.e. compliant with Jewish dietary laws) and an acceptable dessert for the holiday.
What’s in this Jewish Apple Cake?
There’s nothing fancy in this Jewish apple cake. These ingredients will combine to make a sweet, very thick batter:
Orange juice is the key ingredient here! A little bit of OJ goes a long way to add moisture to an otherwise very dense cake.
What are the best apples for Jewish Apple Cake?
I like the same kind of apples for this cake as I like for pies. Honeycrisp apples are the best, but Winesap, Fuji and Gala apples are all good choices.
Steer clear of Granny Smith apples (too tart), McIntosh apples (too soft) and Red Delicious apples (too sweet).
But the apples aren’t really the star of the show when it comes to Jewish Apple Cake. Most other desserts that feature apples have their flavor at the forefront – pies, crisps, strudels are all very fruit-forward and glorious.
Here, it’s more about the cake. The apples are a solid supporting actress, but the delicious cake is where it’s at. And that’s why it has to be moist and sweet but still dense.
You should have to flex in order to lift a good Jewish apple cake.
How to make Jewish Apple Cake
Speaking of flexing, you’ll need some muscle to stir this cake batter. But I promise it’ll be worth it!
First, sift your dry ingredients into a large bowl. No worries if you don’t have a sifter – just use any kind of mesh strainer.
Then, stir in the eggs, oil, vanilla extract and orange juice.
Now, get stirring! Stir the batter until everything is well combined. Be sure to do this by hand. The batter will be too thick for a stand mixer and you could risk damaging the mixer.
Once your batter is mixed, it’s time to layer it with the apples.
Arrange a layer of apple slices on the bottom of the pan and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. Then top the apples with half of the cake batter.
Repeat this process one more time with another layer of apples and cake batter, and then it’s time to bake your Jewish apple cake.
Do you have to use a tube pan for this recipe?
Short answer: not really. A tube pan is useful when you’re baking cakes with a delicate crumb, like angel food cake. This is because most tube pans have detachable bottoms or sides, so you don’t have to stress about the cake falling apart when you invert it onto a serving dish.
This Jewish apple cake is dense and I have never had an issue with it falling apart. So while I’d recommend a tube pan because of the more defined shape and simple design, don’t go out and buy one just for this recipe. A bundt cake pan works fine.
How to store Jewish Apple Cake
My mom is the literal queen of make-ahead meals. She starts cooking for Rosh Hashanah a week in advance. So we know that this moist cake will keep for days on your counter, and it also refrigerates and freezes well.
I won’t bore you with stories of watching my parents take turns stirring the batter with a huge wooden spoon, one relieving the other whose arm got too tired.
I won’t drone on about memories of enjoying this cake with my Bubby at her tiny kitchen table in West Philadelphia on weekend visits home from college.
But trust me, all that juju is in this cake. Bake it and feel the love. And have it with coffee – that’s a must! Enjoy!
For more Jewish recipes, try these:
- Sweet Noodle Kugel Recipe (Jewish Noodle Pudding)
- The Best Challah Bread Recipe
- Raspberry Rugelach Cookies (Classic Recipe)
For more recipes to celebrate apple season, try these:
- Apple Cinnamon Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- Apple Butter Baked Brie Puff Pastry Twists (Easy Fall Appetizer)
- Cinnamon Apple Ice Cream Pie
For more cake recipes, try these:
- The Best Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Best Ever Cowboy Coffee Cake Recipe with Buttermilk
- Holiday Spice Cake
The Best Jewish Apple Cake Recipe (for Rosh Hashanah)
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 big/3 small apples peeled & thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3 Tbsp sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon mixture
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients – vanilla, eggs, oil and orange juice – to flour mixture. Mix by hand for 5-10 minutes until very thick.
- Grease and flour a tube or bundt pan. Layer apple slices in an overlapping pattern on the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Put 1/2 cake batter on top of the apples. Layer remaining apple slices and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar, followed by the rest of the batter.
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Allow cake to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before turning it out of the pan.