Shanah Tovah! Best wishes for a happy Rosh Hashanah and a sweet new year. We’re getting this new year off to a tasty start, with a gluten-free version of traditional Jewish apple cake.
My mother is famous for her Jewish apple cake, laced with apples that she plucks from the trees in her back yard. I’ve always wondered, though, what makes the apple cake “Jewish.” Really, I didn’t know that cakes could have a religion. The answer seems to be that the cake is made with vegetable oil and orange juice, instead of butter and milk, thus making it pareve (neither dairy nor meat). Apple cake is also a favorite dessert for Rosh Hashanah, when we eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize hopes for a sweet new year.
Mom’s recipe worked surprisingly well in its gluten-free version. I substituted gluten-free flours, added xanthan gum (a binder for GF baking) and left the rest of the recipe intact. The cake is moist and bursts with the flavors of apples and cinnamon.
Jewish Apple Cake, Gluten-Free
- 2 1/3 cups brown rice flour
- 1/3 cup potato starch
- 1/3 cup tapioca starch
- 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 5 large apples, peeled and sliced thin
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan with cooking oil spray (make sure spray does not contain flour).
- In a large bowl, gently whisk together the brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum and baking powder. Set aside.
- Remove 5 tablespoons of sugar (from 2 cups) and mix the 5 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture on sliced apples, coating them well.
- In a mixer, beat eggs and the remainder of the sugar for 5 minutes. Add vegetable oil, orange juice and vanilla and beat well. Slowly beat in flour mixture.
- In the prepared tube or bundt pan, pour one-third of the batter, then one-half of the apples. Pour another third of the batter, smoothing the batter so it settles around the apples. Add the rest of the apples and a last layer of batter, smoothing the batter again.
- Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the cake looks golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool completely in the pan for at least 1 hour. Run a spatula around the edges to loosen the cake before inverting it onto a plate.
Yield: 12 servings