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SEASONAL RECIPES

Recipe: An apple cake passed down from grandmother to granddaughter is made by many other bakers, too

Lillian's Apple Cake (Also Known as Jewish Apple Cake).
Lillian's Apple Cake (Also Known as Jewish Apple Cake).Sheryl Julian

Makes one 10-inch cake

We all remember our grandmothers and mothers writing out recipes on index cards and keeping them well organized in boxes designed especially for storing them. If you wanted a recipe, she would write it out on a card and mail it to you (remember mail?). This laborious system of recipe exchange thrived until the Internet. Women sending cards to one another is undoubtedly the reason Lillian Sclaroff of Cherry Hill, N.J., made the same apple cake I've had from a cook raised in Montreal and another from San Francisco. Lillian's cake was served to me by my neighbor, her granddaughter, Sara Sclaroff, and the minute I tasted it -- looking so familiar on the plate -- I realized that it was the same cake that's gone from one end of the country to the other. The index cards from Lillian call the recipe "Jewish Apple Cake." They're typed on an old-fashioned manual typewriter. What you should know about this cake is that other communities also take credit for it. It's called Polish Apple Cake, Dutch Apple Cake, German Apple Cake, and more. What makes the cake Jewish is that oil is used instead of butter, and orange juice in place of milk, so the cake has no dairy and can be eaten following a meal of meat (Jewish dietary laws forbid mixing milk and meat). You make a simple oil-based batter and layer it in a tube pan with peeled, sliced apples and cinnamon-sugar (Sara uses Granny Smiths, but you can also use Golden Delicious, Cortland, or another baking apple). Lillian's cake sits high in the pan, slices beautifully when it's turned out, and is pleasing and delicious and comforting, reason enough to land in many mailboxes around the country, carefully typed or written out on cards that were tucked into their rightful place in a coveted recipe box.

Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
3cups flour
3teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 eggs
2cups sugar
1cup vegetable or canola oil
¼cup orange juice
teaspoons vanilla extract
4medium apples, such as Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Cortland, peeled, cored, and sliced
Cinnamon-sugar made with 2/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit it and butter the paper. Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend them.

3. In an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and oil until thoroughly blended. Beat in the orange juice and vanilla. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the flour mixture in two additions, just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand.

4. Add half the batter to the pan. Add half the apples and sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar. Add the remaining batter to the pan, lay the remaining apples on top, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Tap the pan once on the counter to settle any air pockets.

5. Transfer the cake to the oven. Bake the cake for 90 minutes, rotating the cake from back to front halfway through baking, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. With a small knife, cut around the inside tube and outside edges of the pan to release it. Turn the cake out, peel off and discard the parchment, and set the cake right-side up on a platter or cake stand. Let the cake cool completely before cutting into slices. Adapted from Sara Sclaroff.

Sheryl Julian

Makes one 10-inch cake

We all remember our grandmothers and mothers writing out recipes on index cards and keeping them well organized in boxes designed especially for storing them. If you wanted a recipe, she would write it out on a card and mail it to you (remember mail?). This laborious system of recipe exchange thrived until the Internet. Women sending cards to one another is undoubtedly the reason Lillian Sclaroff of Cherry Hill, N.J., made the same apple cake I've had from a cook raised in Montreal and another from San Francisco. Lillian's cake was served to me by my neighbor, her granddaughter, Sara Sclaroff, and the minute I tasted it -- looking so familiar on the plate -- I realized that it was the same cake that's gone from one end of the country to the other. The index cards from Lillian call the recipe "Jewish Apple Cake." They're typed on an old-fashioned manual typewriter. What you should know about this cake is that other communities also take credit for it. It's called Polish Apple Cake, Dutch Apple Cake, German Apple Cake, and more. What makes the cake Jewish is that oil is used instead of butter, and orange juice in place of milk, so the cake has no dairy and can be eaten following a meal of meat (Jewish dietary laws forbid mixing milk and meat). You make a simple oil-based batter and layer it in a tube pan with peeled, sliced apples and cinnamon-sugar (Sara uses Granny Smiths, but you can also use Golden Delicious, Cortland, or another baking apple). Lillian's cake sits high in the pan, slices beautifully when it's turned out, and is pleasing and delicious and comforting, reason enough to land in many mailboxes around the country, carefully typed or written out on cards that were tucked into their rightful place in a coveted recipe box.

Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
3cups flour
3teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 eggs
2cups sugar
1cup vegetable or canola oil
¼cup orange juice
teaspoons vanilla extract
4medium apples, such as Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Cortland, peeled, cored, and sliced
Cinnamon-sugar made with 2/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit it and butter the paper. Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend them.

3. In an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and oil until thoroughly blended. Beat in the orange juice and vanilla. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the flour mixture in two additions, just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand.

4. Add half the batter to the pan. Add half the apples and sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar. Add the remaining batter to the pan, lay the remaining apples on top, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Tap the pan once on the counter to settle any air pockets.

5. Transfer the cake to the oven. Bake the cake for 90 minutes, rotating the cake from back to front halfway through baking, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. With a small knife, cut around the inside tube and outside edges of the pan to release it. Turn the cake out, peel off and discard the parchment, and set the cake right-side up on a platter or cake stand. Let the cake cool completely before cutting into slices. Adapted from Sara Sclaroff.Sheryl Julian


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.