Whether you're ringing in the Jewish New Year or the arrival of apple season, these sweet recipes are worth celebrating.

By Alissa Fitzgerald
Updated September 23, 2019
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Credit: Getty Images

Summer is great and all but in my book, nothing beats fall. Do you even need an excuse to replace that watermelon salad with bright orange chunks of roasted squash and jewel-toned beets? Those shorter, cooler days lead to fall foliage, where the greens turns into a sea of yellow and red and the farmers markets are suddenly bursting with apples. Which means one thing: apple cake season.

Apple cake season also coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and is a classic and delicious way to celebrate the season. Growing up, we barely needed a reason for my mom to chop up crisp, juicy apples, cover them in cinnamon batter and bake it all up in a tube pan that rarely sees the light of day. This recipe is full of apples just barely held together by the sweet, dense cake. As my mom says, “It’s made to be festive, for a party but don’t worry if there’s any leftover. It freezes wonderfully!”

Highest praise to be sure. But this year a surprise apple cake challenger emerged from my mom’s recipe binder: my grandmother’s Bavarian apple torte. A crinkly, browned slip of paper that was in heavy rotation in my mom’s youth. So what’s the difference between the two? According to my mom, “The torte makes a beautiful centerpiece, far more delicate. But that apple cake is still my favorite.”

Families and friends wish each other a sweet new year, sharing apples and honey over two nights beginning at sundown on Sunday, September 29. A full meal is customary with all the brisket and honey sweetened challah bread anyone could ask for, and yes, honey on challah bread is it’s own delicacy. But save room for dessert. This is one competition where everyone wins.

Jewish Apple Cake Recipe

Hands-on Time: 30 Mins Total Time: 1.5 to 2 Hours Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 baking apples (Cortland, Baldwin, or Rome Beauty), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon mixed with 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Honey for drizzling

How to Make It

Step 1: Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube pan, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit it, and butter the paper. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess. You can use a deep bundt pan, but make sure to grease it very well.

Step 2: Combine the oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat just until smooth again, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Step 3: Spoon one-third of the batter into the pan (barely a layer). Smooth the batter with a metal palette knife. Gently press half the apples into the batter (it's fine if they overlap). Sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Add one-third more batter, the remaining apples, and all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Cover with batter, smooth the top (it may not cover the apples; that's okay), and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar.

Step 4: Bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top is firm and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Step 5: Transfer to a wire rack to cool. With a small knife, cut around the inside and outside edges of the cake to release it from the pan. Turn the cake out onto a plate. Set another plate on top and invert again so the cake is right-side up.

Step 6: When serving, drizzle with honey.

Bavarian Apple Torte Recipe

Hands-On Time: 30 Mins Total Time: 1 Hour Serves: 8

Ingredients:

For Dough:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour

For Filling:

  • 8-oz. room temperature cream cheese
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 large Cortland apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • Juice of one lemon and its peel, grated

How to Make It

Step 1: Set the oven at 450 degrees.

Step 2: Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together. Blend in flour. Chill until firm.

Step 3: Pat down into a greased 9-inch spring form pan 1.5 inches up the sides.

Step 4: Bake the crust for 10 minutes until set.

Step 5: Cream the cream cheese and sugar. Add egg and blend. Pour into crust.

Step 6: Toss apples with lemon juice, peel, cinnamon and sugar. Spread over cream
cheese filling. Sprinkle almonds over apples.

Step 7: Turn down over to 400 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the apples are tender. Allow to cool before removing from pan.