This really is The Best Apple Cake! It's the most beloved dessert to ever come out of my kitchen.
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 made this the other day, and when my daughter walked in the door after school, she shouted, "Do I smell APPLE CAKE?!!!)
I hope you give it a try! And if you love apple desserts but want something guilt free, don't miss this apple pie smoothie.
More desserts to try
(Recipe Source: Adapted from Paula Levine Weinstein and Julie Komerofsky Remer
The Best Apple Cake
- 3 Fuji apples (peeled, cored & sliced ¼-inch thick)
- 1 heaping teaspoon all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (preferably King Arthur)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
- 4 eggs
- 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup orange juice
- Peel, core, and slice the apples into crescent moon shapes that are ¼-inch thick. (If using an apple peeler-corer-slicer, make sure to remove any stray peel or parts of the core remaining on the slices.) In a medium bowl, gently toss the apples with the heaping teaspoon of flour to absorb any moisture and prevent sogginess.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Use baking spray to grease a 10-inch tube pan (that ideally has a removable bottom), making sure to grease the tube as well. In a small bowl, prepare the cinnamon sugar by tossing together the ¾ cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- In a large mixing bowl, place all of the batter ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, olive oil, eggs, vanilla and orange juice). Beat until smooth. (If using a stand mixer, you will need to stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl halfway during the process to make sure everything gets mixed in.)
- To assemble the cake, pour half of the batter into the greased pan. Use a spoon to divide the cinnamon sugar into four equal quadrants in your bowl. Sprinkle a fourth of the cinnamon sugar evenly onto the batter, making sure to reach all the way to the edges of the pan.
- Arrange half of the apple slices in a circular pattern on the batter, overlapping as needed. Sprinkle another fourth of the cinnamon sugar evenly onto the apples. Pour the rest of the batter on top.
- Sprinkle on another fourth of the cinnamon sugar, again making sure to reach the edges of the pan. Arrange most of the remaining apples (pick the best slices) in a circular pattern on top of the batter. You also can arrange a few of the broken slices around the hole in the center. Sprinkle on the remaining cinnamon sugar evenly.
- Bake at 300 degrees F for 90 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. (Check after 90 minutes for doneness by inserting a cake tester or toothpick into the cake to see if it comes out clean. If not, continue baking until it is done.)
- Let the cake rest for 20 minutes on a stove rack or wire rack before trying to remove it from the pan (or else it will stick and crack). Then, place a dinner plate face down on top of the cake. Wearing oven mitts, carefully invert the cake onto the plate (using one hand to firmly hold the plate in place and the other hand to flip the pan over, onto the plate). If the pan has a removable bottom, carefully remove it.
- The cake will be upside down at this point. Place a wire cooling rack on the cake surface and invert it again, so that the cake is right-side up and can finish cooling on the rack. When the cake reaches room temperature, transfer it to a serving platter or cake stand by inverting it onto a plate and then inverting it again onto your serving platter or cake stand.
- Store the apple cake at room temperature, covered with foil (plastic will create too much moisture.) The cake should keep well for up to four days.