Jewish Apple Cake

I can really geek out when investigating desserts tied to holidays or various cultural traditions. I think this has a lot to do with the central role meals take during the holidays for my family. Christmas is my aunt’s molasses bars, making julekake with my mom and fresh cardamom coffeecake. New Years is something ridiculously decadent with equally indulgent breakfast sweet in the morning. Tucking into these traditions each year brings me such pleasure that over the years my eye has wandered to the culinary traditions in other cultures. I’ve made celebration breads from a middle eastern cook book, eaten my fair share of Mexican wedding cakes and dedicated a weekend to making a variety of pancake recipes from all over the world.

One of my favorite traditional recipes I’ve discovered during my multicultural culinary adventures is apple cake. A good apple cake is a dense, simply spiced bundt cake with large chunks of apples baked in, it’s something you’ll find on tables during Jewish holidays and it’s pretty much the essence of all that is good in life. At the request of a friend a few years ago I created a healthier version of apple cake and after some experimenting came up with this one. It’s a cake I often bring to dinners or holiday potlucks and usually end up emailing around the recipe afterwards. So, here it is for your holiday enjoyment, something to add to your tradition.

Jewish Apple Cake

1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C White Sugar or Splenda
1/2 C Unsweetened applesauce
1 egg + 1 egg white
2 T butter (melted and cooled)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C Whole wheat flour
1 C AP Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1tsp anise powder *optional
4 cups apples, peeled and diced or sliced into chips.

  1. Heat oven to 350. Grease a bundt pan or 9×13 baking pan
  2. In one bowl combine sugars, eggs, applesauce, butter & vanilla. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl mix everything else except the apples.
  4. Incorporate the wet batter into the dry in two batches. Make sure to mix completely.
  5. Finally, stir in the apples. If you choose to do the slices you’ll get a nice cake with baked apple layer effect. If you’ve done dices it will simply be a chunky cake.
  6. Pour into baking dish and bake at 350 50min -1hr until the cake is golden brown. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or with cream cheese frosting.

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