Created by: Cathy Pollack, Noble Pig
I have spent the last 15 years perfecting this Hanukkah apple cake for my husband. He absolutely adores cinnamon and apples together in baked goods. This particular sweet combination triggers happy childhood memories for him, especially during the holidays. His mother baked lots from scratch, with this flavor profile playing a dominant role.
Since my husband does not observe Jewish dietary laws, I have taken the liberty of changing this recipe up over the years. I've made it lighter in taste and more in tune with how we like to eat. It has become a staple on our Hanukkah table every year. In fact, holidays aside, my husband asks for this cake year-round, it's that good.
Many of the Jewish apple cake recipes you'll find are made with vegetable oil. This symbolizes the drop of sacred oil found by Judah Maccabee and his brothers in the rubble of the desecrated temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. This drop of oil lasted not one, but eight nights, and thus Hanukkah candles are lit in a menorah for eight days and nights.
However, I have found the use of only vegetable oil in a cake can lend itself to a very heavy, dense and sometimes greasy dessert. And since all the other Hanukkah dishes are cooked in oil, it's nice to take a break from the expected. In fact, many of our Jewish friends really appreciate the slight deviation.
Using butter (dairy) in this recipe certainly makes it less traditional, but it takes the taste up another level. It's the perfect balance of sweet, with the perfect apple-to-cake ratio. The extra cinnamon just makes it even better.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon, plus 1 tsp., divided
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. table salt
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1½ cups plus ½ cup packed light brown sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½” pieces
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Let it cool slightly off heat, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 1½ cups brown sugar until smooth, then whisk in the eggs. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in apples.
- Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. Combine the remaining ½ cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle it over the batter already in the pan. Cover with remaining batter and smooth the top.
- Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven. Let it cool for 30 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack until it cools completely. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar on top right before serving.