Friday, September 26, 2014

L'Shanah Tovah: Apple Cake For a Sweet New Year

I am a cultural Jew, not a religious one. My way of celebrating that ethnicity mainly comes from foods that I make and share with my family (most of whom are Catholics), my co-workers and my friends.

We have had a very hard 2 years in my family, so celebrating a New Year right now, and hoping for a sweeter one is a good thing. I often bake challah rolls, round to symbolize the circle of the year, and I will do so this weekend, and bring some to work for my co-workers/friends to eat with butter and honey. 

But I also baked one of these apple cakes, and I am going to make one for home this weekend.
This what the cake looked like when I brought it to work on Wednesday:

And this is what it looked like the following afternoon: 



I got that final square home and fed it to the Man. But I scraped up the various remnants before I took it home and ate them myself :D

This cake is based on a cake on the "Smitten Kitchen" blog. I have been annoyed at the author since hearing her on Diane Rehm's radio show last year, going on about how "New Yorkers don't cook as much because their kitchens are too small."  Ha!  You can read my rant about that elsewhere on this site, but this recipe came from Deb's mother, who like my own very much missed mama was a fine baker.

The original recipe called for making this in a tube pan, and some commentators on that blog have made it in a bundt pan. I tried making it in a bundt pan I inherited from the other fine baker I miss, Nanay, my mother-in-law. It was delicious, but really hard to remove--in fact it collapsed.

So, in the footsteps of Maud Hart Lovelace's "Emily of Deep Valley" (and if you haven't read Maud's immortal books, you should), I "mustered my wits", consulted commentators on the blog, and tried baking a second cake in a standard 9x13 glass pan.  The result was the cake that you see above, and it's a simpler, easier method than using tube or bundt pan. It's also easier to serve to a large group.

Peeling the apples is time consuming, but otherwise this is an easy cake to prepare. Baking times will vary. If the cake is a little too wet on removal, cooling and resting should take care of that. This cake, in fact, looked too dry when I got ready to take it to work the following morning--but it wasn't. And the dish felt heavy.

But I cut a piece of it at work to check it, and to make it look more inviting for staff to help themselves I put that piece in my office, and it's a good thing I did. Because it's the only piece that I got.
And everyone raved about it!

L'shanah tovah.
Wishing you a happy and a healthy New Year!

Apple Cake
Note: You can use any kind of apples that you like. But both the original cook and I are McIntosh fans. Macs tend to be small, so if you are using larger apples you may need fewer. 

6 apples, plus more for the top  (probably 2-3 more)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish

Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla.

Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Put a thin layer of batter at the bottom of the dish. Top with the apples.
Pour the remaining batter over the apples.
Slice several more apples into thin wedges, toss with more cinnamon sugar  and arrange them on top. Bake for about 1 hour, then check the cake.If it's browning reduce to 325
Bake for up to another half hour, or until a tester comes out clean.

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