Honey-Apple Cake

September 23, 2019 Updated: September 23, 2019

For Ashkenazi Jews, Rosh Hashanah tables tend to feature one of two desserts: honey cake or apple cake. The former (lekach) is sweetened with honey and flavored with strong coffee and spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. The latter (apfelkuchen) comes chockablock with tender apples that give the cake an extra moist crumb. But really, why choose? This version combines the best aspects of both desserts into one cake that celebrates the full, complex sweetness of the autumnal New Year season. It tastes lovely right away, but the flavors deepen and blossom the second day.

Serves 8

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups finely chopped, peeled baking apples (3 or 4 medium)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 10-inch Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and salt into a large bowl.

In a stand mixer or using a handheld electric mixer, beat the oil, coffee, 1 cup of the brown sugar, and the honey on medium speed until fully combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla, beating to combine after each addition and scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the flour mixture in two additions, beating on low speed until just combined.

Stir together the apples, the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Spread about half of the batter evenly into the prepared Bundt pan and spoon the apple mixture evenly over the top. Spread the remaining batter over the apples. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. (Start checking at 50 minutes to avoid overbaking.) Remove from the oven. Set the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes to allow the apples inside to cool and set.

To unmold the cake, run a sharp knife between the cake and the pan, then gently invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. Just before serving, transfer the cake to a serving plate and dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Serve at room temperature. Store covered at room temperature for up to 5 days, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

Reprinted from “Little Book of Jewish Sweets” by Leah Koenig with permission by Chronicle Books, 2019.

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