Mom’s Apple Cake (or shall I call it Ed’s?) – Pennsylvania Jewish Apple Cake Recipe

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Adventure’s in Ankara will be running recipes all week.  Please check the prior recipes and come back for more!

Mom’s Apple Cake has a story.  Actually, it has many stories.

Apple Cake

First, she has made it for almost every special occasion for as long as I can remember.  Birthdays, anniversaries,memorial gatherings, holidays.  You name it.  Everyone loves it!  It’s dense, yet extremely moist and and full of flavor! Apples, cinnamon, orange juice . . . mmmmm.  Friends and family always seem to have a sixth sense  – they know when Mom has baked her apple cake and show up in throngs.  Often, our friend Ed shows up first – hence the title of this post.

I always assumed it was an old German recipe she brought over from the old country.  In recent years, I heard it referred to as “Jewish Apple Cake.”  Well, that made sense to me.  She grew up in Germany before WWII, so why not?

I recently tried my hand at baking her cake – twice!  I had the recipe, but was missing a measurement for one of the ingredients.  Mom was not available so I did some research and found this blog post (with recipe and pics),

mom's apple cake

The above photo is from  Please check her blog post above for more photos while baking.

As I read Deb Perelman’s blog post, I nearly fell off of my chair.  She had the same story – almost.  She thought it was an old family recipe.  “In bits and pieces, I remember it being called at different times a ‘German Apple Cake’ and a ‘Jewish Apple Cake’, though what made it either was unclear. I suspected that if was indeed German, it came over with her parents as they escaped the Holocaust.”

SPOILER ALERT! – Deb eventually baked the cake with her mom, and learned that her mom had clipped it from a now defunct Pennsylvania area magazine.  It’s a great read, so you should check it out.

Well, when Mom became available I gave her a call and asked her the origins of her recipe.  She had been at a friend’s house (likely before I was born) and had sampled the cake.  Now when I say “sampled”, I mean that I am sure she had at least one or two big hunks of that cake.  Because it was good.  Her friend had gotten it from a magazine, and offered my mom a copy.

Deb and I are Apple Cake soul mates.

While chocolate is a big favorite for Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes.  This Apple Cake may just be the perfect sweet for your sweetheart!

Below is my mom’s recipe.  It’s pretty much the same as Deb’s, but put together a little differently.  Deb uses chunks of apples.  Mom uses slices.  I found I like chunks in the middle layer for texture and slices on top for beauty!  It’s an easy to cake to make and can be done with Turkish ingredients!

Mom’s Apple Cake Recipe


  • 2-4 Granny Smith apples – yeşıl elma (In Turkey, I buy the small green apples and use about 5 of them)
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature – buyuk yumurta (it’s very important that you don’t use x-large, or only use 3 x-large)
  • 2 cups sugar – 480 ml şeker
  • 1/2 cup orange juice – 220 ml portaklı meyve suyu (store bought or hand-squeezed fresh)
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla (vanilya şeker – ama kaç tane bilmiyorum.  Belki bir poşet.)
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil – 240 ml yağ (vegetable, canola, sunflower are all ok, no olive oil – zeytin yağ değil)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder – 10 g (1 poşet) kabartma tozu)
  • 3 cups of flour – 720 ml un
  • 1/2 tsp salt – 1 çay kaşığı toz
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon + 5 TBLS sugar (3 çay kaşığı tarçın ve 5 çorba kaşığığı şeker)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (175 Celcius)
  2. Prepare your apples:  Prepare a small bowl of cold water and juice of one lemon.  Peel and core the apples and cut half into thin slices and half into small cubes.  As you go along, place them into the bowl of lemon water prevent them from turning brown.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the eggs until fluffy with an electric mixer or electric hand mixer.  Add the sugar slowly.  Cream until smooth .  This takes several minutes, so be patient.
  4. Once it is creamy and has fluffed up substantially, slowly add the orange juice, vanilla, and oil.  Mix it just enough to blend the ingredients.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  6. Slowly add the dry mix to the egg and sugar mixture.  Beat it together (mixer on low or with a wooden spoon).
  7. With a spoon, mix the cinnamon and remaining sugar (5 TBLS) in a small bowl.
  8. Grease a tube pan (see Notes below)
  9. Pour half of the batter into the cake pan.
  10. Add the apple chunks in a uniform layer
  11. Top the apples with half of the cinnamon and sugar.
  12. Add the rest of the batter.
  13. Starting from the outer edge, lay the slices in a circle around the top of the batter and continue towards the middle. Sprinkle with the remainder of the sugar and cinnamon recipe.
  14. Bake for approximately 45 minutes to 90 minutes.  (See Notes below.)
  15. Check the cake with a toothpick.  If the toothpick comes out dry, it is done.
  16. Let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes before carefully removing it from the pan.  Put it right-side up on a rack to cool.  (This cake does not get turned upside-down from the pan.
This is a different cake, but the top layer should look something like this before adding the cinnamon and sugar.


Tube Pan
  • In the alternative two regular 8″ or 9″ round layer cake pans can be used, something like this:
  • You can not use a bundt pan!

    Do NOT use a bundt pan!
    Do NOT use a bundt pan!
  • Greasing the pan:  I use “Baker’s Joy” spray when possible.  I do not like the baking spray by Pam or other generics.  If you don’t have that, use margarine or Crisco.  Smear it with a paper towel around the inside of the pan.  Then add flour.  Toss it around until completely covered with flour and discard the rest
  • Falling Cake:  Your cake will look like it is falling  because the apples will way it down.  Do not worry, it will be fine.  I know because Mom said so!
  • Baking Time:  Most recipes call for anywhere between 75 minutes to 90 minutes.  My oven is a convection and took about 60 minutes.  I cooked it at my mother-in-law’s home and it only took 50 minutes.  So please keep an eye on it.  Start testing with a clean toothpick at 45 minutes.  Don’t over-bake it!

Afiyet Olsun and Happy Valentine’s Week!

2 thoughts on “Mom’s Apple Cake (or shall I call it Ed’s?) – Pennsylvania Jewish Apple Cake Recipe

Add yours

  1. My Grandmother who lived in Pennsylvania fixed a layered cake for us and she called it a Jewish apple Cake. I cannot remember the icing she put on it but it was either a caramel or a drip icing, I was on 9 and I can remember that cake being the best I have ever eaten .

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