I’m calling this “The Best Apple Cake,” but I could just as easily refer to it as “the most beloved dessert to ever come out of my kitchen.” This is no run-of-the-mill apple cake, people.
I’ve made this cake at least 60 times over many years, and to say it’s a family favorite is an understatement. I first saw the recipe published in the Plain Dealer, and the article described how it came from Columbus caterers Paula Levine Weinstein and Julie Komerofsky Remer, who claimed it was their customers’ favorite dessert. That point really struck me, because I never thought apple cake was anything to write home about. I mean, out of all possible desserts, for people to say that this was their favorite…well I just had to investigate. I’m so glad I did.
This apple cake features the texture of moist pound cake, plus the ribbons of gooey cinnamon sugar you’d find in coffee cake. A hint of fresh orange juice flavor shines through, and a brown, crunchy crust wraps its sweet goodness around the edges. The dessert is parve, which is Hebrew for kosher food that doesn’t contain dairy or meat. So there’s no milk or butter, but there’s oil, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla, in addition to the cinnamon, sugar, orange juice and apples.
The original recipe didn’t specify the type of oil, apples or flour to use, but through experimentation, I’ve arrived at my preferred varieties of each. If you want to replicate this cake as it comes from my kitchen, here’s what you need to know, in order of importance:
- Use olive oil (not extra virgin). I’ve made the cake with vegetable oil, and while it was good, the olive oil elevated it to a whole new level of deliciousness. It does require one cup, so be warned, especially if you decide to bake two cakes for gatherings (which I often do, since this cake is so popular).
- Use Fuji apples. I’m not a fan of tart apples, soft apples or apples that smell like perfume, so the sweet, crisp and sturdy Fuji is my go-to apple for all snacking and baking. In the past, I’ve subbed in Gala apples when I couldn’t find Fuji, but was always a bit disappointed. So now, if I can’t find Fujis, I just don’t make the cake. (I know, so picky!)
- Use King Arthur Flour. I’m not affiliated with King Arthur but swear by its product. (I have my mother-in-law to thank for tipping me off about this several years ago.) If you’re like I was, you might be thinking, “Flour is flour.” To that, I say, bake a cake with King Arthur Flour, and you’ll never go back. When I switched, the improved texture of this apple cake was immediately noticeable, and not just by me. (The crust is to die for.)
So, there you have it. This really is the best apple cake, if not the best cake ever. I mean, children will request it for their birthdays, and teenagers will cut themselves huge slabs for servings. Guests will line up for seconds (or fourths) and relatives will ask you when you’re going to make it next. It’s perfect for the holidays and actually, all year round. I hope you give it a try!
P.S. I made this the other day, and when my daughter walked in the door after school, she shouted, “Do I smell APPLE CAKE?!!!)
(Recipe Source: Adapted from Paula Levine Weinstein and Julie Komerofsky Remer