Every once in a while, I hand the writing reins for this space to Scott, my husband. The last time was when I couldn't resist talking up his diner-perfect pancake recipe back in February 2008. It was around the time his first book, Where Does the Money Go? - Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis, was released. And that was something to talk up, too.
It's been almost two years, now, since that pancake post, and another one of Scott's recipes has emerged as a favorite in our fairly newly married household, one that I'd never grown up with anymore than I did with that spectacularly classic and kitschy American holiday staple, the green bean casserole. Scott's second book was recently released, too, and I can't resist talking it up anymore than the fabulous bundt cake which I baked and photographed the other day. As you will read below, the recipe doesn't really belong to Scott, but his book does. If you'd like to take a peek at the great and good guy I married, the one who introduces this experienced cook to yet more irresistible fare, he and Jean Johnson, colleague, co-author, and friend, were recently on Bill Moyer's Journal to discuss Who Turned Out the Lights? - Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis. The Friday, January 22, broadcast is available on video through PBS online.
I’m not sure how the apple bundt cake floated into my mother’s recipe file. Once there, the Jewish apple cake established itself as the family favorite for many reasons, not least of which is that it is that rarest of baked goods, the one that actually gets better the day after it’s made. It may be better still on the third day, but in our house no cake ever made it that long.
But one of the qualities that made it special was that no one else in our part of rural New Jersey seemed to have heard of it. It was our family’s equivalent of the 11 secret herbs and spices, the killer culinary app, the blue ribbon submission.
So when I baked this for Susan, I felt like I was letting her in on something big. Susan instantly agreed that it’s a great cake. But then there was a flurry of Googling, and she said, “Oh, this recipe is everywhere.” You can check it out yourself – the last time I Googled “Jewish apple bundt cake” the search returned 13,500 entries.
So, the apple cake is not a secret. It just hadn’t made its way to our part of the world. But the reason why there are 13,500 entries about it is because it is that good – and very adaptable. Though this is the original recipe baked with apples, Susan has made it with pears, and Ricki, my sister, has made it with peaches. Maybe its adaptability is not a secret, either. If so, it's just as well, because this cake is too good to keep to yourself.
Jewish Apple Cake - Adapted by Susan from my mother's recipe and 13,500 others
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 teaspoons sugar
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup oil
1 tablespoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried currants
4 cups baking apples, such as Granny Smith, Jonathan, Stayman (4-5 medium)
1 large bowl cold water with juice of 1 lemon
Combine cinnamon and smaller measure sugar in a small cup, then reserve. In a very large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, then add oil and extracts. Pour wet ingredients into large bowl of dry ingredients. Beat with mixer or by hand. Batter will be very stiff and oily, similar to marzipan. Ensure all dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in dried currants. Press some plastic wrap on batter to keep it from drying while you prepare apples. Core, peel, and slice apples (about 1/4 inch wide), dropping slices immediately into lemon water to prevent them from discoloring. Continue until all apples are sliced.
Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Well grease a 10-cup bundt pan. Drain and blot dry apple slices. Evenly press half the batter into pan, ensuring all nooks are filled. Arrange half the apple slices over batter, pressing them down, then sprinkle apples with half the cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat layering once, ending with cinnamon sugar on top.
Place pan in center rack of oven on a cookie sheet. Bake for 1 1/4 hours. Insert a skewer in cake to test for doneness. If still wet, return to oven 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 20 minutes. Invert pan to remove cake onto large plate or cake stand. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Cake will develop an irresistible chewy crust the longer it sits. Serves 8. --
This apple recipe is for Rachel of The Crispy Cook, hosting Weekend Herb Blogging #218 for Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once.
Been There, Done That ~
Peach Rum Savarin
Cinnamon Bun Savarin
Yorkshire Parkin with Lemon Neufchâtel Frosting
Other People's Eats ~
Jewish Apple Cake
Black Russian Bundt Cake
Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake