The Perfect Apple Cake

September 24, 2012

Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.

Apple Cake


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Some dining traditions exist simply because they must, and your feelings about the food in question are really beside the point. 

I’ve heard all about Cornish hens and spaghetti served at Thanksgiving dinners, and I can promise you at least one person at those tables shuddered with despair when a turkey could not be mustered, even one that was overcooked. 

Early in my marriage, I once quietly substituted my mother-in-law’s canned green bean and onion casserole with one made from fresh ingredients for Christmas dinner, and the scorn for the dish was open and unabashed. My sister in law actually picked up the dish for washing as if contaminated. But she’s that way. We can talk about that later. 

Ditto for my homemade cranberry sauce, though in that case I continued to provide both store-brought -- rings and all -- and my own for years after, perhaps as a measure of culinary passive aggressiveness. 

Christians have no monopoly on these traditions of course, and Jews cling to their gefilte fish (which has websites devoted to its mocking) just as tightly as my husband’s family cleaves to its French’s onions.

The most dispiriting of these traditions tends to center around dessert. I’ve made dozens of honey cakes -- which are served during the high holidays this month to usher in a sweet new year -- and while some are less offensive than others, never are they a crowd pleaser. Yet I will make them again and again, and that’s just how it is.

But there is some leeway with apple cake, another traditional dish, which can be quite delicious. On this site alone I have made Rosh Hashana Apple Cake (nice and sweet) Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze (sexy) and the sort-of difficult but worth it An Old-Fashioned Apple Spice Cake (cheeky). 

This year, I decided to give The Perfect Apple Cake a try. This is a very lo-mo cake that packs a lot more of a complex apple punch than it would appear. In fact my dinner guests confessed to me that they had low expectations in the cake until the first bite. 

A few things about this recipe: I don’t have an 8 inch springform plan, so I just used one with a removable bottom and no calamity befell me. Becky forgets to tell you when to add the spices to the batter so I will: add them to the dry ingredients as you prepare them. Don’t fret too much about what apples you have on hand -- I really think any will be just great. The almond milk gives this cake a special texture and zing, so do not substitute, please. 

Yes add the ingredients slowly as the author says to do, but she borrows a little trouble here by suggesting this will be hard and you will be tempted to frantically toss everything in the bowl at once. You won’t! You are calm and will bake as instructed! 

Don’t over bake, but you knew that. Tastes great on day two, and even three.

The Perfect Apple Cake by Becky

Makes one 8-inch deep dish cake

2 sourish apples (granny smith, jonathon, ect)
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup Honey
1/2 cup almond milk (or soy or regular milk, i just prefer the almond)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.




Photo by James Ransom

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Lisakb November 1, 2012
My favorite honey cake is actually the Manishewitz Passover Mix! It has a ridiculous amount of sugar in it, but my kids demanded it every year and ate it for breakfast alternated with matzo brei! There's a regulare Marcy Goldman recipe that is supposed to be good, but I haven't gotten around to it.
My mom always made the raw cranberry/ orange relish on the back of the cranberry bag, but also served the jellied type. I stopped making the one on the bag because it gets ignored by everyone but me after Thanksgiving. However, I got a recipe from a friend years ago that I like so much that I make it year round. It's simply 1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and 1 small can of crushed pineapple in juice (drained). Mix it in a pot and cook until the berries pop. Take it off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup (or more) chopped walnuts. It's good warm or cold, or as a cheesecake topping! I have added more pineapple at times, thrown in some Mandarin oranges, or subbed sauteed apple chunks; it's always good!
Yessica October 15, 2012
Having grown up in a house where the oven was used to store pots and pans and nothing else I have this burning desire of learning how to make wonderful bake goods. This cake looks like a wonderful addition to my growing collection of "I can make this" recipes. And by the way, I too provide both canned and home made cranberry sause for the holiday table...I guess I am one more passive aggressive cook.
Jestei October 17, 2012
you can definitely make this, and every single recipe i write about! keeping it easy and real here in DC! thanks so much for reading!
phyllis October 7, 2012
I no longer celebrate the high holidays, but decades after my grandmother developed Alzheimer's and died, I still regret not writing down her apple cake recipe as I watched her prepare the batter. She didn't have a written recipe, but it was moist and delicious and no matter how many recipes I try, none compare. Of course by now, nothing could.
Jestei October 17, 2012
Of course. But we can all try to get close :)
Rhonda35 October 7, 2012
One Thanksgiving, while living overseas, we were invited to an ex-pat holiday celebration. My assigned dish was - shudder - the canned green beans/onion casserole. I couldn't bring myself to make it - especially not for 35 people. So, I lied. Said the ingredients were completely sold out at the Air Force base commissary. Instead, I brought beautifully sauteed green beans with browned butter and almonds. They were met with the same disdain as your fresh version of THE casserole. And no one believed my story because "the base never runs out of canned beans and French's onions!" Well, it did when I was shopping - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Can't wait to try this cake - I have two favorite apple cake recipes - one from my grandmother called "Jewish Apple Cake" because she got the recipe from a Jewish woman she worked for as a young woman - delicious, easy, moist. The other is Lynne Rossetto Kasper's "Apple Cake with a Crackly Meringue" - beautiful and so very perfect. Looking forward to seeing where this one falls in the mix. And I just happen to have all the ingredients ready and waiting on this dreary, cold day - time for a freshly baked cake and a roaring fire in the living room. xo to you and yours, Jenny. And Happy New Year!
Jestei October 17, 2012
txc84 September 29, 2012
Oh. My. God. I just made this cake (in cupcake form, so do they count as muffins?), and it is delightful. Although, since I didn't have almond milk, I substituted buttermilk. Glad I caught a link to this via Twitter earlier today!
Jestei October 17, 2012
how was the buttermilk?
Andreakat September 27, 2012
I've got a bag of apples from a friends tree just calling out for this cake. I'll give it a try tonight. Gosh-I love Fall!
Jestei October 17, 2012
hope it was yummy
lorigoldsby September 25, 2012
Jenny...another great find! We all have the "she's just like that stories...."
Jestei September 25, 2012
BlueKaleRoad September 24, 2012
Ah yes, family traditions... I still buy jellied cranberry sauce for my dad when he comes for Thanksgiving dinner! This apple cake looks like it could easily become a family holiday favorite. I try every apple cake recipe I can and love the addition of almond milk here. I look forward to baking this one during Sukkot!
Jestei September 25, 2012
i hope you like it!!