Baking this Passover apple cake is a lovely tradition to share with your family. Layers of apples are baked with matzo meal and finished with a crunchy nutty and spice topping that create a moist apple cake which will become one of your favorite Passover dessert recipes.
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- walnuts: Nuts provide a welcome crunch to this cake and walnuts are a nice pairing with apples.
- sugar: You’ll notice you need a total of 1 1/2 cups sugar for this recipe. Make sure to use only 3/4 cup for this topping.
- cinnamon: I love cinnamon with apples and walnuts. If you have other favorite spices like nutmeg, cloves, or mace (which is derived from the coating of a nutmeg seed) please incorporate those spices into this apple cake recipe.
Matzo Cake ingredients:
- apples: Bottom line is that you should use the apples you have available, but if you can be choosy, select Braebrun, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, or Granny Smith.
- eggs: Beat the eggs until light and fluffy. This batter needs the well-beaten eggs to gain volume.
- sugar: We’ll add the sugar slowly, still while beating the batter.
- oil: Vegetable oil is also added slowly to this batter
- matzo meal: Matzo meal or Matzo flour can be purchased at most grocery stores or online. I’ve also found a gluten free matzo meal that makes this an easy gluten free cake.
How to make this cake
- Mix the topping of walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Prepare the apples– peel, core and slice. Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Pink Lady or a combination of apples works well.
- Beat the cake batter until well mixed. Take time to beat the eggs before adding the other ingredients. The beaten eggs give the batter volume.
- Layer half the apples and half the cake batter in the baking dish. The batter will be somewhat thick. You may need to scoop it and spread it out over the apples. I use an offset spatula for this step.
- Repeat. Sprinkle on the topping.
- Bake at 350° for an hour and fifteen minutes. The sugar and nut topping will brown quickly. You may want to cover the baking pan with aluminum foil for the last fifteen minutes of baking if the top is golden brown but the interior still needs more baking time.
Passover is the Jewish holiday that celebrates the freeing of the Israelites from Egyption slavery. The dates of Passover vary year to year but the holiday is observed in the spring.
Foods that contain wheat, barely, oats, rye or spelt that have come into contact with water are called chametz (source here) and are not permitted during Passover.
An unleavened bread called matzo (or matzah or matza) is traditionally eaten during Passover.
Matzo is a flat bread similar to a cracker. Matzah is made from a mixture of flour and water. I bought gluten free matzo for this recipe.
Ingredients in the Manischewitz brand of gluten free matzo are based on potato flour and potato flakes along with other ingredients.
Matzo meal and matzo cake flour are the same thing– both are finely ground matzo. The difference is the texture.
I’ve read some articles that suggest that matzo cake flour is the most finely ground consistency of matzo. For example, you could sift matzo meal and create matzo cake flour. Or you may use the two interchangeably.
You can buy matzo cake meal or matzo cake flour from Amazon or at the grocery store. Or you can simply use a food processor to grind sheets of matzo into a flour-like consistency. Gluten free matzo cake meal is also available online as you’ll see here.
Matzo farfel is matzo that has been broken into small pieces but not finely ground.
Some cakes improve with time and this apple cake is no exception.
Leave the baked apple cake in the pan at room temperature for up to a day or two. The flavors meld and taste even better the second day. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yes, you can make this cake ahead of time then freeze it. Make sure the cake is completely cooled, then wrap it in plastic wrap and foil. I suggest leaving it in the baking dish. Freeze for 1- 3 months then defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Bring the cake to room temperature or warm it in the oven before serving.
The key to creating volume in this batter is beating the eggs until they are light and fluffy. Be patient and beat the eggs for at least five minutes. Don’t only rely on the clock. The eggs will be light yellow in color and the volume will have greatly increased.
If you’ve already made the batter and you don’t think you have enough for layers, don’t worry. Put the sliced apples in the pan, add the batter, then cover with half the topping before baking. Your cake might not rise much but it will still taste good. Save the rest of the topping for another purpose.
Do you have family favorites for Passover dessert recipes? Baking a Passover apple cake may be special for the time of Passover in the spring but really this is a good recipe for many occasions. This Passover dessert may be made with traditional or gluten free matzo.
I wrote recently about baking some traditional Passover recipes for my friend to enjoy for her family’s seder when I made coconut macaroons. (Seder is the traditional dinner that marks the beginning of the holiday.)
This matzo cake is another contribution to add more dairy free baked goods to the celebration of this Jewish holiday.
I was astounded by the sheer volume of traditional Passover recipes that my friend was preparing for her family!
Easy Passover desserts like this apple cake and this flourless chocolate cake will save you time so you can get back to preparing the rest of the Jewish feast. Both are wonderful make-ahead desserts.
This easy apple cake could start your day for breakfast, be served as an afternoon snack or show up on a dessert table at Passover or any time of year.
What’s the difference between Jewish apple cake and Passover apple cake?
Jewish apple cake has become known and loved by people of all faiths and is not only a cake for celebrating Jewish holidays.
Most often Jewish apple cake is baked for a Rosh Hashanah meal which marks the Jewish new year in September or October, depending on the year.
This type of Jewish apple cake is dairy free and contains oil as a central ingredient. Wheat and leavening agents may be used in Jewish apple cakes.
The unique feature of the Passover apple cake is that it does not contain leavening agents or chametz as described above. The unleavened matzo is layered with apples and spices to create a moist and dense cake.
The walnut topping gives a nice crunch to the top.
The best apple cake recipe
The recipe I am sharing is Arthur Schwartz’s recipe for Passover Pareve Apple Cake.
Baking with matzo cake meal was new to me and I wasn’t sure if I had gotten this recipe right at first– until I shared it with my friend who gobbled it up and kindly erased my concerns.
The cake has two generous layers of apples and raisins which are right at home in the matzo cake meal batter. The raising as optional. Other fruits that would be nice in this cake include plums or pears.
The cake topping of spices, walnuts and sugar is the perfect crunchy element to pair with the soft cake and baked apples. Top your apple cake with a few more walnuts before serving for presentation.
Here’s the Google Web Story for Passover Apple Cake.
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon or a combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and ginger
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup matzo cake meal
- 5 medium apples, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups), preferably Golden Delicious, Crispin (Mutzu), or other apples that keep their shape when cooked. I like to use Honeycrisp
- 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 inch square glass pan with oil.
First, make the topping. Mix the walnuts, 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
Next, work on the cake. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy (at least five minutes). Slowly add the 1/2 cup sugar (do not dump in all at once). Add the oil and then fold in the matzo flour.
Now start to layer the cake. Pour about half to two thirds of the batter in the pan. Scatter some of the topping over the batter.
Gently lay half of the apples over top. If you are including raisins, add all of them now.
Cover with the batter you have left.
Layer the remaining apples over the batter then add the extra topping on top.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely in the pan.
Source: recipe from Arthur Schwartz. Only change is to reduce sugar from 3/4 cups to 1/2 cup in the cake batter.
Leave the cake in the pan at room temperature until you are ready to serve it. The taste is even better the second day!
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Serving Size:1 piece
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 37mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 6gSugar: 46gProtein: 5g
This data is provided by Nutritionix and is an estimate only.
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Bake this apple cake year round
This apple cake recipe is one I’d like to try again with all purpose flour or with gluten free flour to see the difference in taste and texture. I hope you can enjoy Mr. Schwartz’s recipe this Passover with your family.
Do you bake apple cake for Passover or what baking traditions do you share with your family for Passover?
Looking for more apple recipes?
Holly Baker started the food blog, A Baker’s House, in 2011. She is the writer, recipe creator, and photographer for the site. Holly loves to bake and shares recipes for gluten free food, canning recipes, as well as traditional desserts too. Her recipes and food photography have been highlighted by BuzzFeed, Reader’s Digest, and She Knows.