A little over a week ago, I had a surplus of apples and a houseguest, and I decided to tackle both issues at once by baking an apple cake. I figured I might as well add in a third variable, and audition an apple cake for Rosh Hashanah. I ruled out the tartlets, crisps, and pies and, opting for something more traditional, I settled on this “Jewish” apple cake from Smitten Kitchen. I had all of the ingredients on hand, except for the orange juice, and since our guest had just presented us with a bottle of Calvados, a substitution seemed in order. From the moment I lowered the cake into the oven, our house was filled with the heady, floral perfume of baking apples, laced with aromatic cinnamon notes. The cake emerged golden, crowned with glossy, caramelized apple chunks and toasted walnuts, while the batter was moist and intoxicatingly fragrant, studded with pockets of soft, jammy apple chunks. It’s a gorgeous cake fit for celebrating Rosh Hashanah, or the golden-hued glory of fall.
Ultimate Apple Cake
from Smitten Kitchen (aka “Mom’s Apple Cake”)
6 apples (Deb recommends McIntosh apples)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice (I used Calvados)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. Grease a tube pan.* Peel, and core your apples, and chop them into chunks. Toss the apples with cinnamon and sugar, and set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan, and spread half of the apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples, and top with the remaining apples and walnuts (if using). Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.
This cake will keep well at room temperature, well-wrapped, for at least three days, staying moist and delicious.
*If you don’t have a tube pan, simply use a large cake pan, or two regular-sized loaf pans. This recipe makes a lot of batter, and the cake rises quite a bit while cooking, so be sure to leave some room. (I used a regular cake pan, and 4 muffin cups).