Mom-mom Mary’s Jewish Apple Cake

February 25, 2012

I told you all about Pop-pop Roy in my Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings post not too long ago. Mom-mom Mary was his wife and a fantastic, much loved Grandma.

Mom-mom Mary & Pop-pop Roy (on left) shortly after they were first married

She wasn’t one of those old fashioned Nannas that would just sit in a chair knitting. She was really funny, loved to laugh and actually liked to play with us when we were kids. I mean really play, like running around outside, swinging on swings, digging in the dirt and building forts.

Me (at 9 months) & Mom-mom Mary

Mom-mom Mary & her pup Wrecker

One of my earliest memories of her is hanging out in the kitchen watching her make this Jewish Apple Cake, which she did quite often. There always seemed to be one available for snacking on in her kitchen. I was super impressed that she could peel an apple and manage to have one long continuous apple peel. I never peel an apple to this day that I don’t think of her and try to keep that peel in one piece. Before she passed away, she was kind enough to give me a enameled butterfly pin that her brother had given her years before. I carried this butterfly with me pinned to my bridal bouquet on my wedding day and thought it should make an appearance in the pictures of her Jewish Apple Cake.

Grandma's Butterfly on my Wedding Bouquet

I must admit, I’ve often wondered why it was a “Jewish” Apple Cake. My family is not Jewish, so I kind of always wondered where she got the recipe and why it was “Jewish”. I did a bit of poking around online recently and discovered that Jewish Apple Cakes are a regional favourite found in bakeries from Philadelphia, PA down to Baltimore, Md. My family is from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, so that did make sense. No one seems to know if the cake actually has any Jewish connections. The cake does not contain any dairy, using oil and orange juice instead. So it could be eaten with meals that include meat in accordance with Jewish dietary rules. However, I also read that it may have no Jewish connection at all and actually be a Pennsylvania Dutch cake that has been mistakenly named as Jewish because it seemed to have and “old-world” character about it.

One thing you won’t be mistaken over is how delicious this cake is. As I mentioned previously, Pop-pop Roy didn’t eat many sweets, but he would always have a bite or two of her Jewish Apple Cake. It’s no wonder, because this cake is irresistable. Dense, very moist, not too sweet and chock full of sugar cinnamon coated apples. A real winner for breakfast, dessert or for an afternoon snack with a nice cup of tea. The cake is very easy to make and will not disappoint. Make sure you peel your apples so that you are left with one long continuous peel for each apple. I think they might actually taste better if you do. 🙂

Mom-mom Mary’s Jewish Apple Cake

recipe from: My Grandma


  • 3 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups granulated sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Cup oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 Tablespoons Orange Juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 – 5 Apples, sliced (I used MacIntosh)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 Cup granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a tube cake or Angel cake pan.

Mix sugar and oil in the bowl of stand mixer. Add Eggs, salt, 1 1/2 Cups of flour, orange juice, baking powder and vanilla. Mix well. Add in the remaining 1 1/2 Cup flour.

Peel and core apples. Slice them into 1″ cubes. In a medium sized bowl, toss sliced apples with the cinnamon and sugar.

In greased tube pan, alternate layers of the apple/cinnamon, sugar mixture and batter, starting with the batter.

Bake for 1 1/4 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Place on rack to cool. You can remove sides of pan after about 15- 20 minutes.


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