(Polish Hanukkah Apple Cake)
Adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France , by Joan Nathan
Danielle Fleischmann bakes this apple cake in the same beat-up rectangular pan that her mother used. Know as a "Jewish apple cake" because oil is substituted for butter, it is called gâteau de Hannouka in France. When Danielle makes the cake, she uses very little batter, and half sweet and half tart apples, a combination that makes a really tasty version of the simple Polish cake. Although her mother grated the apples, Danielle cut them into small chunks. I often make it in a Bundt pan and serve it sprinkled with sugar.
1 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing pan
5 apples (3 Fuji and 2 Granny Smith, or any combination of sweet and tart apples), peeled, cored and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1⁄3 cup walnut halves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a Bundt pan or a 9- by-13- inch baking pan. Toss the apples in a large bowl with the zest and juice of the lemon, the walnuts and the cinnamon. Pulse together the flour, baking powder, salt, almonds, and 1-1/4 cups of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. With the food processor running, add the eggs, oil and almond extract, processing until just mixed.
Spoon 1⁄3 of the batter over the bottom of the pan. Scatter the apples on top, and cover the apples with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (you’ll need less if using a Bundt pan).
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. The cake will take a shorter time to bake in the shallow rectangular pan than in the Bundt pan.
Yield: 8-10 servings