Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Every Recipe Repertoire - Jewish Apple Cake - Weekend Herb Blogging #218

Apple Bundt Cake

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 Recipe Card

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. --
Jonathan Apples

Jonathan Apples.

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 Neufch√Ętel Frosting

Other People's Eats ~
Jewish Apple Cake
Black Russian Bundt Cake
Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake


  1. Scott (and Susan) - congratulations on the Moyer interview. Brilliant, sensible, calm. Just what I expected from you guys. The film references provide positive, grounded, food for thought. Soylent there's a reason to change the way we produce and consume energy...oy vey.

    Gorgeous cake, too. Love your mum's typed-out card. These things are worth treasuring, too.

  2. Congrats to your husband (and you!) on the new book, along with the press surrounding it. Really exciting times I am sure.

    This cake is also exciting, especially with the way cool pan you used for it :)

  3. That cake is officially too pretty to eat.

  4. What a delicious cake! A wonderful combination of ingredients!



  5. Sending lots and lots of congratulations to Scott on his new book, and the wonderful interview! Such incredible accomplishments to celebrate!

    I so loved this joint post... Your beautiful cake and its wonderful story brought back special memories of my mother and grandmothers' own "Jewish apple cakes..." :-) I must confess, though, that yours is especially, exceptionally gorgeous!! :-)

  6. I sat up a little bit straighter when you said 'peaches', Scott, as I have bunches of them canned and in the freezer. Will that work or is it best to use fresh?

    And congratulations on your book!

  7. So much to celebrate so serve me up a big slice:D

  8. Congratulations to both of you on your husband's second book and the interviews...
    Jewish Apple Cake looks delicious.. LOvely recipe and great click... thanks for sharing your mother's recipe...
    M following your blog

  9. Jewish Apple cake looks gorgeous, such a beautiful picture!

  10. The cake looks lovely. Beautiful cake mould too, i love the old recipe, its your mum's right :)... can pass it on to your kids ... Vintage stuff !

  11. Jewish Apple Cake looks beautiful...and a lovely click:)

  12. Wow...that's an deliciously delish recipe......

  13. That's so exciting, Susan..Congrats to you both !! The cake looks gorgeous and a lovely click as usual :-)

  14. Congratulations to Scott on his book. I am going over shortly to see his interview on PBS. I know everyone must be telling you this but that cake pan is just awesome. For lack of better words to tell you how good let me just tell you again awesome. Beautiful pictures as always they are a treat to the eyes as always.

  15. the cake looks great!!! as the aformentioned sister I will say I used fresh peaches & necterines. I also use orange juice instead of extract. I think I am going to try a apple-pear mix the next time I make it. Hope everyone who tries it enjoys it!

  16. Hi Susan!.. Congratulations to your husband on his book!!.. the cake looks lovely and perfectly baked!.. and an interesting introduction to the recipe, nice to know about the adaptability!

  17. This looks like a great cake. And it may be all over the web. But I saw it here first! And am damn proud of it. I like the sound of it with peaches. I can't wait until it's summer again!

  18. Thanks so much for the kind words and good wishes, everyone. I thought you'd all like the cake (and this particular one turned out very well, thanks to Susan).
    My sister Ricki has already spoken up about the peaches --I thought frozen peaches might have too much liquid for the recipe, but she's had far more experience with that than I have.
    Thanks again,


  19. Wonderful photography and I love your story. My Southern grandma had a similar apple cake recipe that I treasure. Thank you for sending a slice of this fabulous cake over to Weekend Herb Blogging this week.

  20. Will listen to the interview once I have some time - with the broadband connection I have, it's less than seamless here.

    I love the sharp ridges of the cake - I recently saw a bundt pan like that somewhere on the blogs and immediately wanted to possess one, it would have resulted in a cake only years later, I know!

  21. Congrats to both of you on the new book and interview--bravo! Of course my mother made a version of this cake, too (and I even felt the need to veganize it on my blog). It remains a family favorite, though I don't manage to bake it much any more unless we have a really huge event at our place. Your version looks lovely, and I love the well-worn recipe card as well! And on another note entirely, it's still startling to see another "Ricki" mentioned on someone else's blog! ;)

  22. I enjoyed listening to the interview: thanks for sharing it. Gorgeous photos, as always. I particularly like the shape of the cake.

  23. Congrats to your husband! Writing a book seems difficult.

    Your apple cake sounds delicious. Great job!

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. Let me join the chorus of congratulations to you both. How terrific to be interviewed by Bill Moyers!

    And that cake looks good, too! ;-)

  26. Fabulous pictures as always. I love the table cloth, it adds such a fun feel to the photos.

  27. Thank you, everyone, very much for your well wishes and kind comments.

    Sra - It's a beauty, but I don't expect you to bake any time soon. ; )

    Ricki - I am always bemused when a recipe that is not part of the cook's culture meanders into her kitchen. My in-laws have adopted this cake as their own since who knows when. They bake it for every birthday, Christmas, and special occasion. I did, however, have to put my foot down for the wedding. ; } I'm curious about how your recipe came out w/out eggs. As it is, it's made with oil and not butter, which keeps it Kosher for observant Jews. From what I've read, it is often served during Rosh Hashanah.

    Simona - I got that bundt pan at Williams-Sonoma. I believe it's also available somewhere on Amazon.

  28. Congratulations to your hubby! Your cake looks really appetizing and so beautifully arranged :)