Apple Honey Cake

For many of us, holidays are a combination of dishes that must be made, new dishes to try, and the sad fact that each person can only eat so much. Every year for Rosh Hashanah, my mother makes a fabulous apple cake. When I moved down here to Texas, I started making it for break-the-fast (the meal following the 25 hour fast during Yom Kippur, which is ten days after Rosh Hashanah) instead, because my friends and I weren’t cooking dinner during Rosh Hashanah.

Mom’s apple cake is still one of my favorite desserts of the season, and a huge crowd favorite. (I’m hoping to post it this weekend, and will link it when I do. ) When I started cooking dinner for the meal before the fast, I went looking for a different but similar dessert, so it wouldn’t be the same thing back to back. For several years I made this apple sheet cake, which is essentially a riff on mom’s recipe.

This past Monday night, dear friends invited me to a small dinner during Rosh Hashanah, and I volunteered to bring dessert. I didn’t want to make the same thing, but wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in. I had made a lot of honey cake over the weekend (including a batch of honey cake truffles to send to a college friend), and the idea of an apple and honey cake seemed perfect, like two desserts in one.

I halved the  apple sheet cake recipe to make only an 8×8″ pan (honestly, though, you’ll want to double it if there’s more than one person, it’s pretty addictive) and made some changes to make it more like a honey cake batter. One large apple was plenty, and I had to almost pat the batter into place to get the apples distributed and laying flat.  And just to guild it a little, a sprinkle of demerara sugar on top.

Voila! It came out light and moist and super additive. My friends have already reminded me to send the recipe. And the best part is that it’s an easy one bowl recipe, so there’s really no excuse not to make it. Right. Now.

(You also must excuse the small photograph of the final cake. I was running late for dinner, so brought the pan, uncooked, with me on the thirty minute drive.  The batter sloshed around in the pan and pretty much absorbed the topping -should have taken it separately. But it baked up beautifully and no one ever would have known. And then we were so busy devouring it I forgot to take a picture until the next morning, after I’d had it for breakfast. )

Apple Honey Cake

Apple Honey Cake

Adapted from Woman's Day

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coffee or tea (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large apple (Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Fuji are all good choices)
  • 2 tablespoons demerara or turbinado sugar (for topping)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (for topping)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8x8" pan with cooking spray.
  • Place the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice in a bowl, and briefly stir to combine. Pour the vegetable oil, honey, coffee or tea, vanilla, and eggs into the bowl, and stir until the ingredients are combined.
  • Leaving the skin on the apple, cut into thin slices. Put the apple slices into the bowl, and stir to combine. It may be awkward but try to coat the apples in the batter.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using the spatula or spoon, or your hands, pat the batter into the corners and into an even layer, trying to evenly arrange the apples and ensure that they are lying flat.
  • Mix demerara or turbinado sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
  • Place pan in oven and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 35-50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  • Notes: I originally thought it would take more than one apple, but I had a large honeycrisp and felt that the batter couldn't take any more apple. If yours is medium-sized, or if you like more apple, feel free to add additional.
  • This can (and probably should be!) doubled and baked in a 9x13" pan. You may need or want to add additional apple slices, just use your discretion and personal preference.
  • Honey cake is traditionally made with brewed coffee; I don't keep coffee in my house, and had planned to brew a cup of tea to use. I was running late, and used bottled unsweetened ice tea. Pretty much anything that has tannins will work.
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