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Jewish Apple Cake With Vanilla Glaze

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A beloved — and most-requested — family recipe.

Of all the desserts I can make as a former pastry chef, this simple Jewish apple cake recipe remains at the very top of my rotation: a family recipe that’s requested often, devoured always.

jewish apple cake slices

Meet this Best Jewish apple cake recipe

This simple Jewish apple cake recipe remains at the very top of my baking rotation: requested often, devoured always. Very easy to make with a wonderful sweet vanilla flavor cut with tart apples and cinnamon, this Jewish apple cake looks like how autumn feels, and fills the house with the aroma of cinnamon, apples, and vanilla.

This Jewish apple cake recipe came from my mom’s home economics class back when she was in high school. It was the first thing she learned to bake on her own, but certainly not the last: She is a fabulous home baker.

The flavor of this simple cake is sweet, but complemented by tartness and slight sharpness from the apples and cinnamon. It’s the perfect flavor combination, and my favorite cake of all.

You may also like: Soft Italian Sprinkle Cookies and Buttermilk Birthday Cake

apples and baking spices for cake

Why is this cake called a Jewish apple cake?

A traditional Jewish apple cake is so called for several reasons, ranging from apples’ symbolism to the Pareve ingredients. 

The importance of apples: Apples are very symbolic in Hebrew faith. According to The Together Plan, the apple represents “beauty, sweetness and the hope for prosperity, and the hardiness of the fruit and its durability represents strength and growth.” At Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), for example, apples and honey are served to symbolize hopes for a sweet new year ahead.

As for the ingredients: Jewish apple contains no dairy products, and is free of milk, buttermilk, butter, cream, or other dairy derivatives. Because this Jewish apple cake recipe contains no dairy, it is considered Pareve (Parve), meaning those observing Jewish dietary laws or rules can serve the dessert with meals containing either meat or dairy.

Granny Smith apples and cinnamon for apple cake

What are the best apples for baking Jewish apple cake?

Use tart, crisp apples such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Gala, or Braeburn to make this Jewish apple cake recipe. Also be sure to check out my complete guide to the best (and worst) apples for baking.

As an F.Y.I, you can vary the fruit and just use the batter as a good base with multiple seasonal applications. This cake works equally well in summer by substituting ripe peaches or plums. You can keep the same ratio of sugar and cinnamon for these fruits.

Easy Peach Pound Cake Recipe - Summer Desserts

Apple Cake Recipe Ingredients

This recipe for Jewish apple cake stays true to simple ingredients. The recipe ingredients are divided into three parts: the apples, the cake batter, and the glaze to finish the cake.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the cake recipe:

For the apples:

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 large Granny Mmith or other tart, firm baking apple, such as Honeycrisp, Braeburn, or Gala, sliced thin

For the cake batter:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil (such as canola oil)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp (3 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (or cold water, apple cider, or a combination)

For the quick glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup water (or milk if you do not have dairy restrictions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

sliced Jewish apple cake

Jewish Apple Cake Recipe Instructions and Notes

This apple cake recipe Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a standard-sized tube pan. I also like to line the bottom with parchment paper so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

To Prepare the Apples

Peel the apples and slice thinly, about 1/4″ to 1/3″ -thick chunks, and place them into a medium mixing bowl.
Add two tablespoons sugar and two teaspoons cinnamon. Stir and allow to sit and get juicy while you make the cake batter.

For the Cake Batter

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream sugar and oil until light and emulsified. Scrape the bowl with a silicone or rubber spatula to make sure everything is well blended.
  2. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. It is time to add each egg when the previous one is mostly mixed in.
  3. Kick the mixer up to medium, and cream the wet ingredients until lightened, fluffy, and smooth, about three minutes. Scrape the bowl at least once during this part.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the flour mixture (the dry ingredients) on low until partially combined. Scrape the bowl. (Notice a trend? It’s important to keep the cake batter fully emulsified.)
  5. Add the orange juice and mix batter on low until combined. Scrape the bowl and make sure the batter is completely smooth. Do not over mix.

Assemble and Bake the Cake

  1. Pour about a third of the batter into the prepared pan. Layer a third of the apples on top. Repeat twice, ending so that apples are covering the entire top of the cake.
  2. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour 40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
  3. Let rest on a wire rack. When pan is cool enough to handle and the cake has set up a bit (around 20 minutes), invert onto a plate, then flip right-side up again, back onto the cooling rack.

Finish With the Powdered Sugar Glaze

In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, and water. Whisk until smooth. Spoon glaze over the top of the cake, allowing some to pool on top, and some to drip down the sides. Serve.

A tube pan is ideal because it bakes up a nice, high cake, but you can also bake the cake in two loaf pans. The time will vary, however.

jewish apple cake recipe

Like this recipe for Jewish apple cake? You’ll also love these apple desserts:

jewish apple cake recipe

Jewish Apple Cake

This easy Jewish apple cake recipe bakes up a sweet vanilla cake folded with lots of sweet apples and cinnamon. A favorite family recipe, this cake makes a wonderful dessert or breakfast baked treat.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keywords:: apple, apple cake, cake, dessert, jewish apple cake recipe, tube pan
Servings: 8 to 10 people
Print

Ingredients

For the Apples

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 Large granny smith or other tart, firm baking apple, sliced thin

For the Cake

  • 1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 each eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (or cold water, apple cider, or a combination)

Quick Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a standard-sized tube pan. I also like to line the bottom with parchment paper to prevent any cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

To Prepare the Apples

  • Peel the apples and slice thinly, about 1/4" to 1/3" -thick chunks, and place them into a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add the 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Stir and allow to sit and get juicy while you make the cake batter.

For the Cake Batter

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and vegetable oil until light and emulsified. Scrape the bowl with a silicone or rubber spatula to make sure everything is well blended.
  • With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Add each egg when the previous one is mostly mixed in.
    Increase the mixer speed to medium, and cream until lightened, fluffy, and smooth, about three minutes. Scrape the bowl.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients on low until two-thirds combined. Scrape the bowl. (Notice a trend?)
  • Add the orange juice and mix batter on low until combined. Scrape the bowl and make sure the batter is completely smooth. Do not over mix.

Assemble and Bake the Apple Cake

  • Pour about a third of the batter into the prepared pan. Layer a third of the apples on top. Repeat twice, ending so that apples cover the entire top of the cake.
  • Bake for about 1 hour 40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let rest on a wire rack. When pan is cool enough to handle and the cake has set up a bit (around 20 minutes), invert onto a plate, and then flip again back onto the wire cooling rack.
    PRO TIP: To invert a cake properly, run a small offset spatula or thin knife around the cake pan's edges to loosen the cake from the pan's walls. Flip the cake over onto a plate or second cooling rack, so it is now upside-down. Then, place the cooling rack on top of the inverted cake, flip it back over so the cake is right-side up again. Let cool completely.

Powdered Sugar Glaze

  • In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, and water. Whisk until smooth.
  • Spoon glaze over the top of the cake, allowing some to pool on top, and some to drip down the sides. Serve.

Notes

Storing the Jewish apple cake: This cake keeps well in an airtight cake dome or wrapped loosely in aluminum foil or plastic wrap for about three days.
You can freeze this apple cake by wrapping it tightly in foil or plastic wrap once fully cooled. Defrost at room temperature on the countertop, never the fridge, which will make it stale.

23 comments

  • Hi Lisa,

    Would this work in a bundt pan? I don’t have a tube pan.
    If so, how long to bake and any other changes?

    Thank you.

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Judy! Technically, yes, this will work as a bundt. The cake will be slightly domed when baked, so it might not sit flat on a cake platter, but I don’t think it would be a big issue. I actually haven’t done an exact conversion to a bundt pan, but you’ll generally be fine as long as you don’t fill the bundt more than 2/3 full; the cake will rise a fair amount. You can also bake the cake in two loaf pans, layering the apples with the batter as you fill the loaf pans. Baking time will be about 1 hour or more for a loaf cake, and should be about the same for a bundt if you can get all the batter in there. If not, baking time will be reduced. Good luck!

  • Jennifer

    5 stars
    my favorite recipe to bake with apples in fall. this always turns out perfectly. Usually use Honeycrisp apples, but sometimes do a mix of these and granny Smith.

  • I’m a little confused as to how the apples should be cut. Are they slices or chunks? I can’t wait to make this. It’s beautiful to look at and I’m guessing fabulous to eat!! Thank you in advance for your reply.

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Lori! I like to do slices because you can get nice ribbon-y apple layers in the cake, but chunks will work as well. I hope you enjoy!

  • HI Lisa, hope you can help with a question about the glaze: water or milk was included in the Ingredients section but not mentioned at all in the Instructions. Could you please clarify? Thanks!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi! Oh my goodness–thank you for catching this omission. I have corrected the directions. You will stir all the ingredients together at the same time. (I realize this response is very late–I hope it worked out!)

  • 4 stars
    Cake was great but I wish the list of ingredients were in the order of use. ?

    • Unpeeled

      Very good point! I have revised the recipe to reflect this.

  • I’ve baked this cake twice so far and I love it, as does everyone I’ve shared it with! Moist and delicious! Thank you for all the history and information you add to your recipes! Your food journal has become one of my favorites! Can hardly wait to see you announce an upcoming cook book!

    • Unpeeled

      Thank you so much, Teresa! One of my favorite recipes as well. My goal is definitely a cookbook someday, so stay tuned!

  • 5 stars
    This cake is delicious! Very moist and LOTS of apples throughout. Definitely more than 20 min prep time but worth the work!

    My oven tends to run a bit hot so I set the timer for 1:30 instead of 1:40 at 350 degrees. At about one hour the top of the cake, which was on the bottom rack of the oven, was very dark brown and so were the sides. I was very concerned about baking it for 40 more minutes but also the inside being raw – so I took it out at 1:15. The cake was completely cooked inside and before serving I ended up cutting off the very dark brown bottom and sides. I think it probably could have come out an hour???? I was wondering if other bakers have reported the same experience that 1;40 just seemed way too long to bake this cake. I am also trying to figure out if I make it again if I should try a lower. temperature like 325? or stay at 350? but I am also unsure of how long to bake it at either temp.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Amy! Thanks for writing. I love this comment because it raises so many good baking science topics. The main thing that I would say is that a hot oven will cook the outside quickly, while keeping the inside underbaked. This is problematic for cakes because the outside will darken and become dry while the interior still has yet to finish baking. If you have a hot oven, reduce the oven temperature. This will let heat penetrate to the inside of the cake before the outside grows too dark. I also suggest getting an interior oven thermometer! I think they’re fabulous! That way, you can regulate your oven temp that way. In the meantime, try the cake at 325F. A standard tube pan should be about 1 hour 40 minutes, give or take (how often does someone open the oven to check? Is their tube pan wider/narrower?), but like my pastry instructor used to say: “It’s done when it’s done.” Hope this helps!

      • I will try it next time at 325. I have never used an oven thermometer but that is an interesting suggestion. Thank you.for the reply!

  • Judy Ugnac

    Thank you for your beautiful blog and delicious recipes. I love the red and white teacups in the Jewish Coffee cake picture. Could you please send me info about them.
    I would love to purchase some. Thank you!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Judy! Thank you so much for the lovely words. I love those dishes also. I actually bought them at a rummage sale in Maine a few years ago. (I usually find all my best dishes and serving utensils at flea markets and thrift stores.) But I checked the bottom and it is an old Noritake brand. Maybe search on Ebay or Replacements.com? Let me know if you’re able to come across them!

  • Karen E Lindenberg

    5 stars
    I’ve been baking this cake for years, particularly for Jewish New Years. To keep the cake pareve, either skip the glaze or make it with orange juice.

  • Ángela

    5 stars
    I made this the first time in a loaf pan halving the recipe. Followed the recipe to a tee.. It was so delicious that I made it again. This time I made the full recipe but used EVOO instead of neutral oil. I used a variety that has a softer flavour and is common in Spain for baking (arbequina) and it also came out great and had an amazing taste. Wonderful recipe!

    • Unpeeled

      Thanks, Angela!! It’s one of my favorite cakes of all time.

3.91 from 21 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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