How Sweet It Is!

Apple Chai Cake.jpg

After Labor Day the entire social structure of my life changes along with everyone else's. All of a sudden we switch gears from grilling and walks on the beach to back-to-school stuff and fall fashions.

And the High Holidays.

Everywhere I look now there's a Rosh Hashanah reminder. Even though it's late this year (Jewish holidays are always early or late, never on time). The first night is October 2nd. Not so far away!

And so, to paraphrase the poet Shelley, I ask you: when Rosh Hashanah comes can Apple Cake be far behind?

No way! Because Apple Cake is one of the culinary icons of the holidays, a rite of passage for all would-be Jewish bakers. It wouldn't be a proper holiday without this dessert.

But not every apple cake is quite like Amy Kritzer's! This delectable new version, fragrant with chai-inspired spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves) and cloaked with a soft, maple-infused cream cheese frosting is a standout for its creative take on an old-fashioned classic. It's a beauty as well, with its creamy drizzle and, if you wish, chopped walnuts for garnish.

The recipe is from Amy's new book, Sweet Noshings, which is loaded with magnificent recipes that feature modern updates to and new ways with traditional Jewish baked goods. Everything from Mandel Bread (Amy's includes espresso powder and dried cherries), to Chocolate-Lime Sufganiyot (perfect for Hanukkah) to Flourless Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes with Beet (!) Frosting (I can't wait to try that one!).

There's even a riff on the classic egg cream (it includes strawberries and almond milk).

Anyone who is familiar with Amy's popular blog, WhatJewWannaEat, knows that her recipes always surprise, always inspire. The cookbook does too. Satisfying those of us who like to go beyond ordinary when we cook.

And it certainly satisfies a sweet tooth.

Apple Chai Cake with Maple­ Cream Cheese Drizzle

Prep time: 30 minutes  • Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes  • Makes: 12 servings

 For cake

  • Butter, oil, or cooking spray for greasing pan
  • 3 cups (426 g) all-purpose flour, 
  • plus more for flouring the pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (235 ml) neutral-flavored oil (such
  • as canola, vegetable, or grape seed)
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar, plus extra 5 tablespoons for apples
  • 4–5 Granny Smith apples, (3½ cups/440 g), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

 For drizzle

  • 4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (113 g) powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (plus 1–2 teaspoons, if needed) milk (or water or almond milk if keeping parve), at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/ 180ºC. Grease a 12-cup (2.8 L) Bundt pan with butter and a dusting of flour (or use nonstick spray) and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate large bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer or spoon, mix together oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Then mix in 2 cups of the sugar until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, switching to the beater attachment (or continue to mix by hand). Mix until combined, being careful not to over mix. Batter should be thick but pourable. 

4. Peel and core apples and cut into thin, 1/8-inch (3 mm) wedges.

5. Combine apples in a large bowl with remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

6. Spoon a third of the batter in pan. Add half of the apple mixture in an even layer, add another third of the batter. Follow with other half apple mixture and last of the batter.

7. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a cooling rack. 

8. To make drizzle, beat cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Then beat in powdered sugar, butter, maple syrup, salt, and enough milk to get a thick but runny glaze. Keep beating until smooth. Drizzle all over your cooled cake.