Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year starts today at sundown, and man, are we all ready for a new year, a fresh start. We observe Rosh Hashanah by tasting something sweet, to start the new year with sweetness. Traditionally, this means apples and honey. We’re keeping the tradition, keeping the apples, but losing the honey, and giving it a plant-based makeover.
I fell asleep thinking what to make, and dreamed up this cake, creating a plant-based version of an original recipe from Sally Schmitt, who owned and ran the French Laundry before Thomas Keller. One day, I must tell you about having coffee with him, but now we’re talking about apple cake.
This version is a simple cake studded with apples, and, if you like, cranberries and candied ginger. I’m embarrassed to say I discovered a bag of cranberries in my freezer dating back to Thanksgiving of last year. They freeze well, but they’re not getting any younger, and it was time to move the inventory. What the hell, I had them, and scattered a cup of them on top.
I used to make an enormous elaborate pear and cranberry crostata for our big Thanksgiving gatherings. It was my showstopper and pain in the butt to make. This is so much easier to make and is really more my kind of thing, realer somehow, and still very stylish.
This apple cake is a treat by itself for Thanksgiving, for Rosh Hashanah, any time. It’s a proper dessert you could get away with eating for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up, too. To make it stickier and sweeter without honey, my caramel sauce recipe published on Medium will deliver.
Wishing everyone a bright, shiny and sweet new year.
- 6 tablespoons vegan butter Miyoko’s rules, plus a little for greasing the pan
- 3/4 cup fine evaporated cane sugar whizz it in the food processor for a minute if you need to
- 1/4 cup plain seltzer
- 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or spelt flour — hey it’s Whole Grains Month get into the spirit
- 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
- freshly grated nutmeg or okay, 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 cup oat milk or your favorite plant-based milk
- 2-3 apples like Granny Smiths or Gravensteins
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup cranberries optional
- 2 tablespoons candied ginger chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon demerara sugar
- sprinkle of cinnamon
- powdered sugar optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9” springform pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together vegan butter and evaporated cane sugar and seltzer until fluffy and light. May look slightly curdled at this point. Don’t panic.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients and the oat milk alternately to the butter mixture.
- Keep a light hand, mix just until the ingredients are combined. Spoon the batter into the pan.
- Peel and core the apples. Use your impressive knife skills to slice thinly. Toss the slices with lemon juice to keep them from browning.
- Press the apple slices into the batter, keeping them about 1/4 inch apart and core side down. Arrange apples in a circular pattern around the outside edge, like the rays of the sun, and then closer and closer to the center till you run out of room or apples. Scatter the cranberries and candied ginger on top, if using, and finish with a sprinkle of demerara sugar and cinnamon.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted in the center of the comes out clean and your kitchen smells sweet.
- Let cool before unmolding. Finish with powdered sugar and serve with caramel sauce, if desired.