Spiced Jewish Apple Cake

Apples, Pumpkins and Pears, OH MY!! Autumn is officially here.

“Lexi, didn’t you just make a cake a few weeks ago?” YES. Yes I did… and do I have ANOTHER beauty for you. 

Apple Cake hot out of the oven

Fall is THE BEST time for baking, and never fear, I’ve got cakes galore (check out my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Hazelnut Streusel, and Bourbon Apple Cake with Maple Cinnamon Frosting, to share a few).

Side view of apple cake

The heady aroma of cinnamon and apples which fills the house is reason enough to dive into this recipe, but then of course you get to EAT IT!!

Who wants to get their apple-cinnamon fix this time of year from a candle?? You can’t eat a candle Image result for laughing emoji.

Apple Cake dusted with powdered sugar

Each year in early Fall I make this apple cake to celebrate the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. Since my husband’s side is Jewish, incorporating these traditions and holidays are important to our family. Besides, I love ANY excuse to celebrate through food!!!

Did you know that on Hanukkah you are supposed to eat donuts?  DONUTS, people! I’d say I married up.


Top down of apple cake with apples in background

The most important culinary tradition for this holiday is to have sweet foods on the table, usually in the form of apples and honey, which are meant to symbolize and usher in a sweet new year.

Apple cake is a staple at Rosh Hashanah dinner, and I’ve been making my version for years now, but this is in fact a great dessert to make for any celebration when apples are in season.

Since I use butter in mine instead of a neutral vegetable oil, this one is not a typical Jewish Apple Cake, but I prefer the sweet creaminess from the butter to compliment the tart apples and spices. The rum adds a lovely flavor, but if you prefer not to use alcohol you could swap it out for orange juice.

Side view close up of apple cake with fork plate and apples in background

What sort of apples should I use?

Apples that are tart/crisp are best. I used Braeburn the last time I made it, but have used a mix of McIntosh, Honeycrisp, and Fuji as well. You can toss in some green apple if you like but don’t use ALL green apples or it will be too tart. I find Gala apples to be a little soft for this cake.

Apple cake showing moist interior with apples in background

What tools do I need?

  • 10 cup bundt pan
  • Stand mixer
  • Mixing bowls and spatula
  • Sheet pan to bake it on (just in case you fill your pan too high and it bubbles over!)

Other tips and cooking tricks to share

  • Make sure you generously butter the pan, and dust it with flour, shaking out the excess. Bundt pans are notorious for holding cakes “hostage”, since cake batters like to stick to the little nooks and crannies of a bundt pan. If you prefer, you can use a tube pan, which is more typical when making Jewish Apple Cake. If you don’t have either, use two loaf pans.
  • Peeling and coring the apples is the most time consuming part of this recipe. It’s not hard, it just takes time, and there really aren’t any great tricks to make it go faster. I use a vegetable peeler, starting at the top, and working my way down the apple, but if peeling a ribbon isn’t your thing, do it however you feel most comfortable. After that,out  using a paring knife, I split it in half, cut the core, then chop the apples into cubes.
  • This cake is great the first day, wonderful the second day, and will keep for up to 3 days (well wrapped, at room temperature). Take advantage of this by making this cake a day ahead of when you plan to serve it (or when you plan to hide in the closet with it and eat it all yourself:)
  • Sometimes the gooeyness of the apples makes it difficult to test with a skewer if the cake is done. The best way to know is to see if it’s slightly pulled away from the sides, and feels firm to the touch on the top. 
  • Pecans or walnuts are a nice addition if you’d like a little nuttiness. Just rough chop them, not too fine, and use about a cup.

See a quick tip from the chef

When using apples in cakes and pies, readers have asked, “Is there a shortcut for prepping the apples?” I answer in this video…


Watch me make this recipe



Make Ahead Dinner Party


Spiced Jewish Apple Cake

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr 5 mins
Servings: 10


  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 small-medium apples about 2 ½ pounds, such as a mix of McIntosh, Braeburn, Fuji, Honeycrisp, or green
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter melted
  • 1 cup sugar divided use
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs


  • Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter a large bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out the excess. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Peel and core the apples and cut into chunks about ¾ inch (no need to be totally precise, it’s just a guideline). Toss them with the cinnamon and ¼ cup of the sugar.
  • Add the eggs to a stand mixer. Beat on high speed until pale yellow, a few minutes. Add the sugar and beat another minute. Pour in the rum and vanilla and melted butter and beat again, scraping the sides to make sure it is all incorporated. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
  • Fold in the apples then scrape into the prepared pan. It should fill it ¾ of the way. Place in the heated oven and bake for 65-75 minutes. The sides will pull away from the pan and the cake will feel firm to the touch. Let cool completely, then turn out onto a serving plate. The cake will keep for up to 3 days, wrapped well.



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