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 (179)Post a Comment

  1. Two ?s.
    Planning on baking this in two loaf pans, which I have done with another recipe that uses a bundt pan. The recipe is similar in amount of ingredients except yours has 3 eggs instead of 4. Have you ever done this? My reason is that I will give one to my in-laws (in their 90′s and not baking anymore).
    Also, have you ever used anything else for the non-dairy creamer? Could milk be used or would it have to be cream? Or, may just have to get some non-dairy crdeamer, but really never use it. Thanks and Shana Tova!

    1. Hi Sharon, I have never baked this in two loaf pans. It will probably work, though, if the amounts seem similar to your other recipe. For the icing you can simply use water instead of creamer, just make sure you keep it nice and thick so it stays white and doesn’t turn translucent. I wouldn’t use milk due to the spoilage issue. Enjoy!

  2. Shana Tovah! I’m baking this right now and it is filling my house with delicious aromas! Thank you, and a sweet New Year to you and yours!

  3. I just baked it tonight and plan to store it overnight until Rosh Hashana dinner tomorrow night. Is it enough to cover it in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge? (Waiting the requisite time to ice it before dinner.)

  4. Just made this cake. I used a gluten free blend of flours. The cake looks delicious and is high. (Some of my gluten free baking attempts have been flat cardboard appearing items.) I can’t wait for my son to taste it. My daughter used your recipe and used regular flour and the 2 cakes look alike. This usually does not happen with gluten free things I have made.

    So excited I had to write.

    Thank you so much.

  5. I made it last night and my house smelled like heaven! Now making another one!!!! How do i keep this cake with frosting?! Refrigerated or not?! Thanks for a grest recipe!!!!!

    1. Depends on the kind of frosting you use Rachell… if the frosting needs to be refrigerated, then you should refrigerate the cake. If it’s a shelf-stable frosting it will keep for 2-3 days at room temp, as long as it’s not overly warm in your kitchen. If you’re using the icing in this recipe, it will keep for a couple of days outside the fridge, but will stay fresher longer in the fridge. Enjoy!

  6. I do not like Honey Cakes at all. However, I wanted to make a honey cake for Rosh Hashanna and then I found your recipe. I modified it slightly – I added 1 cap of chopped walnuts and almonds and almost 1/4 of a cap of lemon juice. I omitted the spices and just used the cinnamon. I added lemon juice to the icing instead of the non-dairy creamer – and it was on. My family absolutely LOVED that cake. This is now our new tradition. Thank you!!!!!

  7. I made this last night for a Rosh Hashanah dinner and it turned out delicious! I only had two apples on hand, so I supplemented with zucchini, which was great, though it wasn’t as apple-y tasting probably. Very moist and yummy! Mine also finished baking after just an hour in the oven, but that’s obviously very variable on your oven and probably the Bundt pan as well.
    Thanks for your great recipes!

  8. Holy moly, this cake is delicious! I made mine gluten-free by substituting 1 cup tapioca starch, 1 cup flax meal, and 1 cup sorghum flour. I also added 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum because gluten-free flours aren’t as sticky as regular flour. This was SO delicious. Thank you for an awesome Rosh Hashanah recipe!

  9. I made this wonderful cake for the second year this holiday. It came out even better than last year! I now see from Tori’s photo that I was stingy with the icing…. but I have some left over, and I’ll remedy that as we eat the leftovers! Shana Tova to Tori, who has provided me with many wonderful recipes.

  10. The Honey Apple Cake is delicious! Very moist and a perfect end to our Rosh Hashonah dinner. With two diabetics at home, I used Splenda instead of sugar with no change in taste. Didn’t do any icing, either…still got rave reviews! Thank you for so many wonderful recipes, Tori.

  11. Made your Honey Apple cake – most excellent. Mine wasn’t quite as nice looking as yours, but I’m still in self taught baking 101.

    1. I was in self taught baking 101 not long ago, David. It’s the best school out there! :) As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. I’m happy you liked the cake!

  12. Been making my mom’s recipe for years but have never been a big honey cake fan. I decided to try your version for Rosh Hashonah last week. Mixed apples and pears. It was amazing! Thanks.

  13. I made this for Rosh Hashanah dessert, in cupcake form as another post on this site indicated. Wonderful! My husband and I ate them up- only one of my three kids ate them, but the other two are chocolate lovers! :) I did not have a way to shred the apple so I grated it- what a mess! But I just blotted out the extra liquid, threw it into the batter as the recipe calls, and they came out well! Thanks for this site, almost every part of my Rosh Hashanah meal was from your recipes!

  14. I saw this recipe and immediately printed it to try for Rosh Hashanah. Brought it to a dinner and ended up giving 8 people the recipe! SO delicious! Moist, flavorful, great consistency. I used half Paula Reds and half Granny Smiths. Easy directions to follow and love the pictures showing what it should look like when it is finished cooking. I look forward to your weekly blog! Thank you! Will be making this again this weekend!

  15. Great Blog. I just took the Apple Honey Cake out of the oven and it is cooling. I took it out at 75 minutes and it was as you described. It fell out of the pan beautifully. I used Bakers Joy!
    FYI: there is a “snow white non-melting sugar” at kingarthurflour.com. Won’t melt or disappear atop baked goods, including straight from the oven.Confectioners’-type sugar superior for topping all baked goods and desserts. Holds up under plastic; even atop icing or whipped cream.
    Item # 1307

  16. Hi Tori! I’m trying to get some of my baking done today so I don’t have my hands completely full tomorrow. Will this cake stay fresh until Saturday? It sounds AMAZING!

    1. Yes it should be fine. If you want to be super safe, pop it in the fridge, then take out a couple hours before serving. But generally speaking, this cake stays fresh for 3-4 days (in my experience). Enjoy!

  17. Hi, I plan to make this for my break fast meal at my brothers house. The cake sounds wonderful. I don’t need it to be parve. Can i use whole milk instead or do you recommend cream for the icing? Also, I don’t have all spice and cloves in my cupboard so I need to go out and get those spices.
    Thanks.

    1. Andrea I recommend water if you’re not using creamer; with milk you have the possibility of the icing spoiling at room temp. Water will work fine as long as you keep the icing nice and thick.

  18. I made this cake yesterday for my break fast family get together. It was beyond delicious–so moist, flavorful, fabulous. Everyone loved it. My 4 year old helped me put the icing and powdered sugar on top. She told everyone at the party that she made the cake. I used water instead of non dairy creamer and it worked great and I used 2 granny smith and 2 gala apples. Thanks so much for this recipe. It’s a keeper for sure.

  19. I do not like honey cake, but I decided to try it for the holiday. We had break the fast last night and the whole cake was eaten. It had a delicious flavor, was moist, and delicious. I will make it again. Thank you for the recipe.

  20. Hi,
    Looks really good… I would like to bake this weekend. I wonder if i can use other kind of apple (like Gala!) and also can i use regular loaf pan instead Bundt pan ?

    Thanks.

    1. Gala apples will be fine. Loaf pan will be too small, but two medium loaf pans might work… also the recipe will make roughly 24 cupcakes if you’re so inclined. :)

  21. Any chance that red apples ( McIntosh, Jonagold) can be used in place of the green apples? We just went apple picking and no greens~!~!

    1. Hi Beth– Jonagold will work. Some varieties of apples turn to mush when they are heated, which is why I stick to baking with certain varieties over others. It probably doesn’t matter much in this recipe because the apples are shredded and incorporated into the batter. Here are some other apple varieties that I like baking with: Gala, Baldwin, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, and Honeycrisp. I steer clear of baking with Fujis or Red Delicious, which are better reserved for snacking.

  22. great pareve cake, not difficult to make. repeat performance for different audience for thanksgiving. And it lasted a couple of weeks, still edible.

  23. Hi Tori, Thanks for this perfect recipe. Tried this today..and came out really well. I didn’t have a bundt pan, so halved the recipe and made in a normal round pan – though it doesn’t look as beautiful as yours in the pics, it still tasted really nice. Thanks again!!

  24. Hi Tori,
    Regarding your honey apple cake, as you are peeling and then shredding the apples, do you put the ones that are done in water until you have completed all of them? If you do that, do you then squeeze out the liquid? If you use lemon juice, doesn’t that change the flavor?

    Thank you in advance for your reply. Tammy

    1. Hi Tammy, I don’t keep them in liquid nor do I put lemon juice on them. The shreds are being folded into a cake batter; even if they brown a little, it’s no big deal, as they’ll be integrated into a brown cake. Nobody will notice in the finished product. Enjoy!

    1. Ernesto, you can leave out the vanilla or choose a clear vanilla flavoring (some companies offer clear varieties). If your frosting is thick enough, the color shouldn’t change dramatically from the small amount of vanilla added unless your vanilla is particularly darkly colored.

  25. precise information over recipe Honey Apple Cake in Icing to carry non-dairy creamer other use heavy cream no place non-dairy creamer.Very obrigade.Abrace Sidmar.

    1. Sidmar forgive me, but I’m not sure exactly what your question is. I think you’re asking if you can use heavy cream in place of the non dairy creamer. If you can’t find non dairy creamer I would instead recommend using water, start with less (2 tsp) and add slowly until you get the right consistency. I hope that helps!

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