Whole Wheat Apple Cake

Jewish Apple Cake

Last week, I promised you an apple cake recipe. And I’m following through on that promise – sort of.  Technically, I promised you my grandmother’s apple cake recipe.  This is not it.

But it turns out that Nannie’s apple cake recipe is actually a major family mystery.

I was pretty sure that I had the recipe for Nannie’s cake, along with half a dozen other Jewish apple cake recipes, in my recipe file.  But as it turns out, the recipe I had thought was my grandmother’s was virtually identical to a recipe from my aunt, which she apparently got from a woman at her synagogue. The only difference between the two recipes was the type of baking pan to be used. And when I questioned my aunt further, she revealed that she had always believed Nannie’s apple cake to have been straight from a boxed mix, with the addition of a few chopped fresh apples.  So I called my mother, and then my brother, and despite all of our combined memories of Nannie’s apple cake, we are frankly still confused.  My mother swears that while Nannie was fascinated by boxed cake mixes, her apple cake was 100% from scratch.  My brother thinks she baked it in a bundt pan, I’m certain she did not.  My mom thinks there was cinnamon in the cake batter itself, but not one of the recipes in my file has cinnamon appearing anywhere but in the apple mixture.  And the question of whether or not she peeled the apples opened a whole new round of arguments.

All I can tell you for certain is that this recipe here is decidedly not Nannie’s.  She would never have used whole wheat flour, or egg whites.  Nope – Nannie was a full-on butter and sugar kind of lady. But since uncovering the truth about the real deal would have required more recipe testing than I had time for this week, I just winged it.

jewish apple cakeAnd I think Nannie would be proud.  She would have liked the way the whole wheat flour adds a little bit of heartiness to the crumb of this cake. Nannie’s apple cake was always more like a huge, round muffin than a fluffy cake, and the whole wheat flour only enhances that lovely, dense texture. This cake is chock full of apples, which as my mom pointed out, is the whole point.  My mom is famous for having spent her youth creeping into Nannie’s kitchen to sneak slices of apple out of this cake (or pilfer raisins from a pan of cooling bran muffins, or snag bits of apricot from a cookie filling). But most of all, Nannie would have loved how easy this cake is to make.  It comes together in minutes, bakes up beautifully, and is basically fool-proof.  Nannie was not a fussy lady, and this is not a fussy cake.

This cake is wonderful with a dollop of whipped cream, and I think it would be equally tasty as a sweet breakfast treat with a big cup of coffee.  It would make a great addition to a Yom Kippur break-the-fast buffet, too.

And as for the to-peel or not-to-peel debate, I vote don’t peel.  It’s just too fussy (and I’m just too lazy).

jewish apple cake recipe

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

Serves 8

1 egg

3 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 medium apples, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8″ round baking pan.  In a large bowl, beat the egg, egg whites, 1/2 cup of sugar, vanilla extract, oil, and juice together until well mixed. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and stir to combine. Toss the sliced apples with the remaining sugar and the cinnamon. Spread half of the cake batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Add the apples, and spread them as evenly as you can.  Top with the remaining batter, doing your best to spread evenly (as I mentioned, this is not a fussy cake, so don’t worry if you don’t get the batter all the way to the edges of the pan, it will spread itself as it bakes).  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top of the cake is a dark golden color and the edges pull away from the pan.  Cool  before serving. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

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Published in: on September 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm  Comments (15)  
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Rosh Hashanah Recipes

We went apple picking last weekend, and I had grand plans to make my Nannie’s Jewish apple cake to share with you.

But then my boss sent me to Florida.  Where it was hot and rainy and my hair frizzed (which probably shouldn’t have bothered me since I was wearing a hard hat the whole time, but I’m kind of vain about my hair, so it did). Not that you care about my hair.  You care about apple cake.  Which I didn’t make, because I was busy flying to and from Florida and attempting to tame my frizz.

I have faith that my aunt will be making Nannie’s apple cake on Monday, so don’t worry, I will not be apple cake deprived. But I still owe you all an apple cake, and I promise it will happen – eventually.  Trust me, Nannie’s apple cake is worth waiting for.  But in the meantime, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) is upon us and we need to make some plans to stuff the bellies of our friends and families with apple and honey and challah and all sorts of other yummy treats.

So, below are some of my favorite Rosh Hashanah recipe ideas.  Happy New Year!

rosh hashanah apple chestnut savory tart

This Chestnut, Gorgonzola and Apple Tart makes a really beautiful side dish.

holiday noodle kugel

Noodle Kugel is, of course, a holiday tradition. And New England Noodle Kugel with drunken cranberries is even more awesome.

salad for rosh hashanah

This Fennel Apple Salad is a great Rosh Hashanah side, but also works as a quick lunch along with a big loaf of crusty bread.

apples and honey pancakes

These lovely Apples ‘N Honey Pancakes are a yummy Rosh Hashanah brunch.

Published in: on September 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm  Comments (4)  
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Sausage Stuffed Bread

chicken apple sausage stuffed bread

I have a terrible tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be.

When I was a kid, my mother would buy these lovely sausage and veggie stuffed baguettes from a local bakery to slice and serve as a dinner party hors d’oeuvre. I adored the crusty outsides and rich, meaty interior.  Mom learned to buy an extra loaf just for me and my brother.  I’ve been wanting to recreate them for ages, but the whole processes seemed, frankly, like a pain in the butt.  I’d have to make bread dough, then stuff, form and bake while hoping that the whole thing wouldn’t explode.  So I never did it.

But, of course, I was making the whole process so much more complicated than it needed to be.  Yes, the real deal would involve a lovely yeasty french bread dough and a whole lot of effort.  But the slap-dash version turns out to be pretty darn delicious!  A good store-bought baguette, some pre-cooked sausage, and a bit of aluminum foil, and you have a wonderful stuffed bread.

I used chicken apple sausage, peppers, and gouda.  But you could certainly play around with the flavors.  I think that a sweet Italian sausage and some chopped broccoli would be lovely with provolone.  Really, you can’t go wrong with sausage, bread and cheese, can you?

baguette stuffed with chicken apple sausage

Sausage Stuffed Bread

Serves 8-10 as a starter

1 plump french baguette

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 links (about 6 ounces) pre-cooked chicken apple sausage, chopped

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup diced onion

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/2 cup store-bought garlic herb cheese spread

3 ounces gouda cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice into the baguette lengthwise, but do not slice all the way through – as if you’re making a very long sandwich.  Carefully dig out as much of the soft interior of the bread as you can, while leaving a solid exterior to encase the filling without collapsing.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage, pepper, onion, and garlic and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  Let the sausage mixture cool slightly.  Meanwhile, spread the garlic-herb cheese over the interior of the bread. Lay the gouda evenly in the interior of the bread. Carefully spoon the sausage mixture into the bread cavity, as evenly as possible. Wrap the bread in foil and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bread is warm.  Cool slightly and then unwrap and slice to serve.

Published in: on September 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm  Comments (8)  
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