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.

Published in: on September 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm  Comments (15)  
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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love apple cake – and I think a big scoop of whipped cream on it would be sooo good!

    I can only imagine that your Nanny would love it – you make a gorgeous cake!

  2. Sounds wonderful – i love the orange juice in here – lovely cake for Fall
    Mary x

  3. What a lovely cake for fall. I love baking with apples when the weather turns cool. Looks delicious.

  4. I love a good mystery. I sounds like your Nannie’s cake recipe is going to remain a mystery!

  5. What a fun story and sad that the recipe remains a mystery 🙂 I love your version with the whole wheat flour! It looks delicious!

  6. Can’t wait to try this…was just thinking about what I should do with all of those apples we picked!

  7. Even though this isn’t like your Nannie’s, it still sounds absolutely delicious. Love that it’s healthified with the whole wheat! =)

  8. Love the story! But I’m wondering how all these ingredients fit into an 8″ layer cake pan? Picture looks like that’s what you used, though. So an 8″ layer cake pan is correct?

    • Yes, it fits! There isn’t actually a whole lot of batter, and not much air incorporated in it (you don’d to beat the eggs too much). Once you’ve spread half in the pan and go to top the apple layer with the rest of the batter, it will seem like not enough – but it is. This cake doesn’t rise much, but if you are concerned, place the pan on a cookie sheet before placing in the oven to catch any drips (although I haven’t had any).

  9. I would love this too. It looks delicious and healthy!

  10. OH THIS IS GORGEOUS! And your Nannie sounds like my kind of person 🙂 Mind you whole wheat and apples is perfect too 🙂 On the to do list!

    chow 🙂 Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  11. Your Apple Cake looks like a wonderful comfort food style of cake, the kind of cake I really appreciate and love to bake myself. I am sure that your Nanny would have bben very pleased with this Apple Cake of yours!

    I really enjoyed reading through this post and some of the other posts, you have a very nice blog and I will be visiting again soon. Keep those wonderful cake recipes coming!

    Thank you also for taking the time to vistit my blog and leaving such a lovely comment.

  12. This looks like such a wonderful Apple Cake, just like the comfort style kind of cakes that I appreciate so much – I am sure that your Nannie would have been very happy with this cake of yours. Whole wheat and apples make for a very delicious combination!

    I really enjoyed reading this blog post and some of the previous posts as well – you have a very nice blog and I will be visiting again soon, just keep those wonderful cake recipes coming!

    Thank you also for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely comment!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  13. I love apple cakes, how perfect for the season!

  14. This looks perfect for the fall season, and WW flour makes it healthy, right? : )

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