Joan Nathan came across the identical listing for "Jewish" Apple Cake in two local Maryland cookbooks -- one the "Favorite Recipes from Trinity Church" in St. Mary's City and the other "Mrs. Kitching's Smith Island Cookbook" (1981). Mrs. Kitching, who ran a popular boardinghouse, got this recipe from her grandmother who lived on Smith Island, population 550, all her life.
It might be labeled "Jewish" because there is oil rather than butter or lard in the batter.
Make Ahead: The cake can be made a day or two in advance. It freezes well.
- 3 cups unsifted flour, plus more for dusting the pan
- 5 medium apples of your choice, preferably those that are good for baking
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease tall tube pan, then dust lightly with flour.
Core the apples, then cut each one into 8 equal wedges. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of the sugar, tossing to coat evenly.
Beat the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer, on low speed, until well blended. Gradually add the remaining sugar, then the oil, orange juice and vanilla extract.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt on a piece of waxed or parchment paper. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture to form a smooth batter.
Pour one-third of the batter into the pan. Create a second layer using one-third of the apples. Repeat to create a total of 6 layers, ending with apples on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or as needed; the top should be golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out with a few moist crumbs.
Let the cake sit for at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
Adapted from Nathan's "Jewish Holiday Kitchen: 250 Recipes From Around the World to Make Your Celebrations Special" (Schocken, 1998 revised edition).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.