My Mom’s Apple Cake

My Mom's Apple Cake-"Jewish" Apple Cake

I need to be truthful from the start on this one:

1. This cake is a CAKE. It’s not going to be a Paleo-Gluten-free-Vegan-Fad-Diet-Version of anything. You want the healthiest apple dessert? I gotcha covered: dip apple slices in peanut butter. Want a fantastic cake that is fine in moderation and comes out perfectly every time? This is your recipe.

2. My mom (and her mom, the wizard behind Grandmom’s Chocolate Cake), always referred to this as “Jewish Apple Cake.” Having grown up Catholic, it always puzzled me why a favorite dessert was decidedly non-Catholic. In fact, many of our family’s traditional foods, Polish in name, are actually Jewish in origin. Lest I make an unintentional gaff, I looked into the origin of “Jewish Apple Cake,” and found this article which explained: “The layered cake has Polish roots…The word ‘Jewish’ had quotes around it probably because the recipe calls for oil instead of butter, and orange juice instead of milk… The juice substitute kept the cake pareve, or suitable for a kosher meal at which meat might be served.” I also learned that this particular recipe is the popular preparation in the Philadelphia area, from where my family hails. So, hooray for history lessons that result in delicious desserts!

3. That photo up there is not mine, as I haven’t yet perfected baking this cake, nor any cake, at 7,000 ft. elevation. {sad trombone noise} So, the photo is from 3liz4 via photopin cc, and looks enough like my mom’s to represent this recipe nicely. Though, in truth, you want it to be a bit more cake-y, like this:
medium_2953327698So, ’tis the season for apples, and I’m feeling a little homesick for my mom’s moist, fabulous, crowd-pleasing cake, and I thought passing it along to you might remedy the I-Can’t-Get-No-Cake Blues. Enjoy!

My Mom’s Apple Cake


My Mom’s Apple Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8-10
A tried-and-true family recipe for Jewish Apple Cake that comes out perfect every time.
  • 6-7 apples, peeled and sliced
  • 5T sugar+ 2T cinnamon
  • 3 c unbleached organic flour
  • 2 c organic cane sugar (Or try coconut sugar!)
  • 1 c canola oil (You might attempt to use a light olive oil, but it would change the flavor slightly. You may also substitute ½ c of the oil for ½ c of applesauce, but it will not result in the best consistency.)
  • ½ c fresh orange juice
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 /12 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a tube cake pan or bundt pan.
  2. Combine 5T of sugar with 2T cinnamon. Sprinkle 3 Tablespoons of the mixture over the sliced apples. Toss to coat. Save remaining cinnamon-sugar.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat well to combine.
  4. Pour ⅓ of the batter into the tube pan. Top with a layer of apples. Repeat, layering batter and apples, with the last layer being batter.
  5. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon-sugar over the top.
  6. Bake 1 hour- 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Top will be golden brown. Be sure not to skip the toothpick test, and always test in the middle. This cake is dense and you want to be sure it is cooked through.
Try topping this with nuts or a glaze for a pretty presentation.

Healthful Mama Apple Cake

Do you have a favorite family recipe or favorite apple dessert?


photo credits: jensteele via photopin cc,MTSOfan via photopin cc


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3 Responses to My Mom’s Apple Cake

  1. O'Boy! Organic (@oboyorganic) September 20, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    This looks amazing and I loved the little history lesson. Never knew that this cake has polish roots and this recipe comes from Philadelphia. Here are some of my favorite apple recipes –

  2. Maria September 24, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    Like you, I was also from a Carholic family from the Phila area and remember my mom making this when I was a kid. (Equally confused about how it made it into her otherwise wholly Italian meal plans.) It was my favorite cake, however, and this recipe was exactly right. Thanks for the memories, now my kids will have them too!

    • HealthfulMama September 24, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Thanks, Maria! I’m glad you found the recipe similar to your memories :)

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