Serious Eats: Recipes

Polish Hanukkah Apple Cake

Photograph: Sabra Krock

I'd never really given much thought to why apple cake was synonymous with Jewish desserts until reading the intro to this Polish Hanukkah Apple Cake from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous by Joan Nathan. As it turns out, the Jewish part comes from the fact that the cake is parve (made without dairy) and therefore acceptable in a meal served for the main course.

For seasoned bakers not used to this dairy-less style of baking, making a dessert using oil as its primary fat might seem like a huge departure, but there's a certain allure to these parve desserts—and this Polish Hanukkah Cake is a great example.

The combination of eggs and oil creates a bright yellow batter that bakes into a moist crumb, which you'd never attain with milk and butter. The true test of this kosher parve cake? Serving it to a table full of folks entirely unconcerned with Jewish dietary laws. When I served mine accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (decidedly unkosher after a brisket dinner), the eaters were more than happy with their slices of super moist Jewish apple cake, filled with sweet-tart apple chunks, almonds, and a big hit of cinnamon.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous to give away this week.

Adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous by Joan Nathan. Copyright © 2010. Published by Knopf. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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