Honey Apple Cake

Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipe

This dessert was one of the very first recipes I posted on The Shiksa in the Kitchen. It has since become a holiday favorite for many families! I have updated this post and republished it with new pictures and more detailed recipe instructions. Enjoy!

Summer is coming to an end, which means goodbye sunshine, hello holidays! From September through the end of the year, we celebrate some amazing food-filled Jewish holidays. The first is Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year signifying the end of the Hebrew calendar cycle. It is the first of what we call the High Holidays (or High Holy Days), a ten-day period that ends with Yom Kippur—the holiest day of the Jewish year. Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. On the Roman calendar, Rosh Hashanah usually occurs during the month of September.

The Rosh Hashanah holiday is a time for reflection. We recognize and admit the things we’ve done wrong over the past year. Let’s face it, nobody’s perfect. Rosh Hashanah allows us to recognize our shortcomings, providing an opportunity to better ourselves through prayer. We are also actively encouraged to repent by seeking forgiveness from the people we have wronged during the previous year. It is not uncommon for Jews to apologize to people they have mistreated so they can start the new year fresh, with a “clean slate.” We are reminded not to repeat these mistakes in the coming year; in this way, Rosh Hashanah is an opportunity to improve the way we approach the world. It’s a holiday that helps us to become better people. And that’s a beautiful thing.  :)

Honey Apple Cake

 The shofar, a special instrument made from the horn of a kosher animal, is blown on Rosh Hashanah

Jews from different parts of the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah in a variety of ways. Holiday traditions vary according to family background and local customs. A special prayer service is held at synagogue emphasizing both repentance and remembrance. During this service, gratitude is expressed to God for the creation of the world and humanity. The shofar, a special instrument made from the horn of a kosher animal (usually a ram), is blown. Tzedakah, or charitable giving, is also part of the holiday. Good deeds are done in the hopes that God will seal our names in the “Book of Life,” which brings the promise of a happy year to come.

And then, of course, there’s the food. What would a Jewish holiday be without a celebratory meal of epic proportions? (Unless of course it’s Yom Kippur, a fasting holiday.) The Rosh Hashanah meal—or meals, depending on the way you celebrate—are particularly fun, because they feature symbolic foods that signify our hope for a “sweet new year.” We enjoy “new fruit,” a fruit that has recently come into season but we have not yet had the opportunity to enjoy this year (often a pomegranate). The head of a fish is sometimes served, symbolizing the literal translation of Rosh Hashanah, which means “Head of the Year” in Hebrew (on our table it’s strictly symbolic, we don’t eat it). Challah is baked fresh, sweetened with raisins or fruit and braided into a round shape. Apples and challah are dipped in honey, again symbolizing sweetness. In fact, honey is a major ingredient in many traditional Rosh Hashanah dishes, including the famous (or should I say infamous!) Rosh Hashanah honey cake.

Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipe

 Honey, apples and challah are traditional Rosh Hashanah foods.

I had trouble getting excited about this whole honey cake tradition. At my first few Rosh Hashanah celebrations, the honey cake was my least favorite part of the meal. It’s usually a dry, overly-spiced, overly-sweet cake that sits virtually untouched on the Rosh Hashanah buffet—more like an afterthought than a truly inspiring dessert. I tried many traditional honey cake recipes over the years, but each one seemed more disappointing than the last. I experimented with my own recipe ideas, but it always turned out kind of…well, honestly, kind of blah tasting.

A few years ago, as we were dipping our apples into honey, it occurred to me that maybe I’d been approaching this whole honey cake thing from the wrong perspective. Yes, a honey cake is traditional—but apples are also a traditional Rosh Hashanah food. Why not combine the two flavors into one dessert cake? Around that same time I bought my first Bundt cake pan, so I decided to play around with it and see what I could come up with. After a few failed attempts, I discovered the right combination of ingredients and baked an irresistible Honey Apple Cake. Shredding apples into the batter lends moisture and creates a lovely texture. This recipe is now our Rosh Hashanah tradition. My family enjoys it so much that I often serve it for other cold weather holidays like Sukkot, Thanksgiving and Purim. I’m so excited to share it with you!

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Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipe

Honey Apple Cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups all purpose baking flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 4 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored, and shredded

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup + 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp non-dairy creamer

You will also need

  • 9 inch Bundt cake pan, sifter, wire cooling rack, parchment paper, Ziploc bag
Cook Time: 75 - 90 Minutes
Total Time: 2 - 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 10
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are frothy. Whisk in the honey, white sugar, brown sugar, oil and vanilla. In a separate medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and spices. Incorporate the flour mixture into the liquid, stir to blend. Fold in the shredded apples.
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipeSpray your Bundt pan with cooking spray, making sure to evenly coat the entire inner surface. Pour your batter into the pan. Bundt pan depths vary, so make sure the batter fills the pan ¾ full or less. Do not fill beyond ¾ or your cake might overflow during baking. Use a spatula to gently push the batter to the outside of the pan, pushing slightly up the walls. This will help to get rid of any air pockets that might interfere with the pretty details of the pan. Smooth the batter on the top so it is flat and even all the way around the pan.
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipeBake cake in preheated oven for 75-90 minutes. When the edges darken and pull fully away from the sides of the pan, and the cake browns all the way across the surface, insert a toothpick deep into the thickest part of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done. It’s a very moist cake, so it’s easy to undercook it– err on the side of caution and let it bake a little longer if you’re unsure (but don't bake it too long or it will dry out!).
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipeLet the cake cool for exactly 10 minutes, then invert it onto a flat plate. Tap the Bundt pan gently to release the cake. If your cake sticks, use a plastic knife to carefully loosen the cake around the center tube and sides. Allow cake to cool completely (very important to let it cool before frosting).
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipeNow it’s time to decorate your cake. Decorate this cake the same day you serve it; the cake is moist so it tends to “soak up” the powdered sugar, plus the icing looks prettier fresh. To keep things neat, I like to do this part on a wire cooling rack with a piece of parchment paper underneath to catch extra sugar/ drips. You can simply do it on a plate if you prefer. First, put 3 tbsp of powdered sugar into a handheld mesh strainer or sifter. Sprinkle sugar onto the top of the cake by tapping the strainer or sifting to release an even shower of sugar around the surface of the cake.
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipeNext, make your drizzle icing. Sift 1 cup of powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Add ¼ tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tbsp non-dairy creamer to the bowl. Stir with a whisk or fork to blend. Add additional non-dairy creamer by teaspoonfuls, mixing constantly, until the mixture has the texture of very thick honey. You want the icing to be quite thick, but still pourable. When you can drizzle the icing in stripes across the surface, and it takes a few seconds for those drizzles to dissolve back into the icing, the texture is right.
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipePlace a Ziploc bag inside a tall water glass, open end facing upward and wrapped around the edge of the glass, so there is an open space for easy filling. Pour the icing into the Ziploc bag.
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipeClose the bag, leaving a small bit open to vent. Guide the icing towards one of the lower corners of the bag. Cut the very tip of that corner off the bag.
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipeDrizzle the icing in a zig-zag pattern around the cake by squeezing the Ziploc bag gently to release the glaze.
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipeAllow icing to dry completely before serving—this usually takes about 30-60 minutes. Slice and enjoy!
  • Honey Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah #jewish #holiday #recipe

Comments (177)Post a Comment

  1. This looks DELICIOUS! And it doesn’t look to complicated either. I’ll make it for my BF this weekend. Hugs! xoxo

  2. wow love this great idea combining honey and apples, I like to shred zucchini into my cakes for the same reason. and the decoration is so pretty!

  3. Hey Shiksa! Long time reader first time commenter. Just wanted to tell you how much I love your recipes. I made the chaallah last week and it was AH-mazing. Will try this cake for RH. Thanks for your blog!

  4. for a nice twist, try 2 Granny Smith apples and 2 pears – peeled, cored, and shredded (instead of 4 apples). My friend Anna makes a very moist apple/pear cake that is amazing, and i think it would work with this. it gives a nice mix of flavors.

  5. Hi Madam Shiksa, Im so happy for reading your delicious Honey apple Cake. i will cook that tommorow, and good luck on your years coming-in. Happy Holiday’s to all the Jewish people. and God bless all of you.

  6. Laura, this cake is SUPER moist, it definitely stands alone without the need for lots of icing. Try it, you’ll love it!

    Jenny yay!! So glad you like the challah.

    Elliot that sounds like a great twist, I’ll have to try it!

    Perlita, thank you for your kind words, happy holidays to you! :)

    Hope you all enjoy the recipe.

  7. [...] literally translate to the “head of the year” (for more information on Rosh Hashanah, click here). The fish head reminds us to be the head instead of the tail– or rather, to be leaders and [...]

  8. Hi, I have my Honey Apple cake in the oven, looking good, didn’t have baking powder so I hope it still comes out okay…looks okay…great recipe…you ROCK!!!

    1. Fantastic Celia! It might be a little more dense without the powder, let me know how it goes. Also, make sure you let it cook all the way through. When the edges darken and pull FULLY away from the sides of the pan, and the cake browns all the way across the surface, it should be done. It’s a very moist cake, so it’s easy to undercook it– err on the side of caution and let it bake a little longer if you’re unsure. :)

  9. The children and I are so excited to celebrate our first Rosh Hashanah. We found your delicious looking cake to make on it. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Argh, I stumbled upon your blog too late! I actually had the same thought as you about combining apples and honey into some sort of baked treat, and had been looking for a honey apple cake recipe I could make for Rosh Hashana. Maybe I’ll make it anyway, just because it sounds so great!

  11. Thank you for this wonderful, delicious recipe. I made it for Rosh Hashanah and my family loved it so much that I have another one in the oven right now!

  12. Thank you for posting this! I made these into delicious cupcakes for my son’s Greek God’s Feast at school. I wanted a dairy-free recipe that was moist and did not contain coffee and too many spices. I ended up having to make two batches since we ate all of the first batch “samples”. I am adding this to my repertoire! Thank you!!

  13. Tori,
    Thank you for your blog!!!! I am a huge fan! Yesterday I made honey apple cake and brought it to my last conversion class. I must say that I am not that great when it comes to baking, but your cake rocked! Everyone simply just loved it.
    Shabbat Shalom

    1. Nadia, so happy you enjoyed the cake and that you’re finding the site useful! Thanks for reporting back. Congrats on starting the conversion process! Let me know how it’s going for you. :)

  14. Is all purpose baking flour the same as all purpose flour? This looks delicious and I can’t wait to make it for the women at work!

  15. I’ve baked something similar for a few years but mine requires slicing the apples and layering them in the batter. The shredding looks easier and less time consuming with the same yummy result (my fav combos.) Going to try it this year for our Rosh Hashannah dessert. And maybe for breakfast tomorrow ;)

    1. Hi Stacy! Yes, you can freeze it. Just make sure you decorate with frosting/powdered sugar it 2-3 hours before serving (after defrosting). The decorations look prettier fresh.

  16. Thank you for sharing this recipe, it looks delicious! I’m meeting my BF’s family for the first time this coming Rosh Hashanah and would like to take a dessert. I’m a Shiksa so I think this would be a nice gesture. I have to make sure it’s gluten-free, do you have any experience with Bob Red Mill’s gluten-free, wheat-free all purpose baking flour?

    1. Hi Dolly– I have not tried Bob’s Red Mill GF flour, but I have tried other Bob’s grain products and I like them overall. I have tried King Arthur GF flour, and it is great– it’s worked as a perfect sub for flour in many of my baked recipes. The first night of RH has passed, so sorry if this is getting to you late. If you tried the Bob’s or another sub, please let us know how it turned out for you!

  17. Heard you on Joan Hamburg and immediately went to your blog. This honey apple cake looks delicious. One question: seems like alot of canola oil. Could I substitute applesauce for part of the oil and if so, how much? One other question, how could I best wrap a bundt cake for freezing? Thank you for a beautiful website.

    1. Hi Laura, so sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, I was crazy busy in New York when your comment came through. I heard back from another blog reader who tried the applesauce sub with this cake and said it didn’t work very well for her, so I would use the recommended oil if possible. It may seem like a lot of oil, but it’s a large cake with lots of flour. She also used an egg substitute instead of eggs, which may have been part of the problem. If you do want to sub some applesauce for oil, don’t freeze the cake– freezing will dry it out without that extra oil in there. To freeze the cake without subbing applesauce, first wrap it in plastic wrap, then in foil. Be careful, Bundt cakes are delicate and can fall apart easily. Don’t frost it till 1-2 hours before you serve (after full defrosting).

      For others who are looking for a healthier alternative to this cake, I will work on a lower calorie version with less oil in the coming months.

  18. Hi:

    I am on the Engine 2 Diet and can’t have any oil, but I will consider substituting applesauce (lots) and some oil if I can.
    Please advise…….
    Thanks!!! I have been spending an hour looking for a honey cake recipe with apples, and yours is definitely the winner!!!

    1. Hi Judi! Sorry it took me some time to respond, I was on the road. You can definitely sub some applesauce here, but I wouldn’t recommend doing a full sauce for oil sub… I’m not familiar with Engine 2, does it really say no oil at all? Could you maybe sub half oil, half applesauce? It would be great if you can keep half the oil in there for moisture/flavor. If you do use mostly applesauce, let me know how it turns out… and make sure you don’t freeze the cake! Freezing a cake without oil will lead to a super dry cake after defrosting. Good luck!

  19. The cake is in the oven and the whole house smells amazing! Can’t wait to taste it tomorrow! I didn’t have ground cloves, and didn’t want to spend the money since I don’t really use that spice. Crossing fingers it will not make much of a difference.. :)

  20. LOVE LOVE LOVED! this cake! After 33 years of marriage, and trying to duplicate my Mother in law’s honey cake recipe… I FINALLY made my own honey cake that came out GREAT!..thanks to you!! and I did it GLUTEN FREE!! It was delicious! Just found your site this week and I am loving reading it and really enjoying the recipes!
    Shana Tovah to you and yours!

  21. It’s even better today!! I used the GF flour you recommended, King Arthur GF multi purpose flour. I will tell you that my cake was done in 60 minutes. I know this varies depending on ovens and altitudes. Can’t wait to try your other recipes! I am going to pass this recipe onto a friend of mine who writes a GF food blog….I’m sure she’ll contact you! Thank you for starting our new year off sweetly! Wishing you and yours the same! And everyone who reads your blog as well!

  22. As a fellow convert, can I tell you how much this recipe ROCKS? I brought it to Rosh Hashanah dinner and every Jew there said it was the best honey cake they’d ever had! Woot! Score one for the rookie! ;) I love your site Tori, Shana Tova!

  23. Me again…I also meant to tell you what had drawn me to your site! I was taken with the gorgeous photography and the beautiful quality of each picture! Not sure if anyone has mentioned that to you yet, but the photos are magnificent! I was born Jewish, to survivors. Lucky to know my survivor grandparents and make them great grand patents! My bubby and Ma were the most amazing cooks in the world. Following your blog makes me feel as though they are in the kitchen with me! Love your recipes, site AND as “student” photographer, I LOVE the photos as well.
    Good Shabbos + Shana Tovah!

  24. Hi Tori, Do you bake this cake on the bottom rack or the rack just above the bottom rack? Do you have a preference for a rack for baking for most of your baked goods? Thank you. Tammy

    1. Hi Tammy, sorry it took me some time to respond! I generally prefer baking my cakes/baked goods on the middle rack, and I often rotate the baking pan halfway through cooking to ensure even heat distribution. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part this seems to work best.

  25. I didn’t see this, but you may already have answered it, if so I’m sorry! I would like to make this but I only have Stayman apples right now, are they an acceptable sub for granny smith? They aren’t quite as tart but are very flavorful.

  26. I’ve been meaning to thank you for ages now for your honey apple cake recipe. It was so moist and delicious, and a huge hit with my family. I made it on Rosh Hashanah for my non-Jewish husband and mother-in-law (who is a great cook and baker) and my daughter who is the pickiest eater, and they went absolutely crazy over it. I baked it for only 58 minutes, and it came out perfect. Instead of icing, I put a bit of powdered sugar on it for decoration. Thanks again!

  27. This sounds delicious! Have you tried it with applesauce in place of some/all of the oil? I can’t tell if the moisture will be too high if I go the lighter route.

  28. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it last night for the first night of Rosh Hashanah, and it was a huge hit. I too am the shiksa in my family, and my mother-in-law was really impressed. I also made your pomegranate sangria, and that was consumed before dinner even started. Both have been requested for next year. Thanks again! Love your blog!

  29. OMG! This is such a delicious, moist cake. I made it in my Jewish Star shaped bundt pan and everyone just loved it. This recipe will definitely be used every Rosh Hashanah in our home. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  30. Hi Tori,
    One slight problem: a bit of the cake stuck in the pan when I tried to take the cake out of it. I had to do some cosmetic work. But the repair hardly showed after I iced the cake. The baking time for mine was longer than you suggested. The cake came out great! Everyone loved it. I used slightly less of each sugar, slightly less oil, and substituted some wheat germ for some of the flour. Even so, the cake was delicious and looked beautiful.
    Alice.

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