Today we're gonna party like it's 5775. That's right folks, the lunar new year is right around the corner, and we're ringing in Rosh Hashanah with an extra special dessert! These honey apple cakelets are great for any fall occasion, really, but they also happen to contain symbolic ingredients for a good and sweet Jewish New Year.
On Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to eat a snack of apples dipped into honey. A blessing is recited over the fruit, the apples are dipped into honey and tasted, and finally, a prayer is said, asking for a good and sweet new year.
→ Read more about Rosh Hashanah traditions: A Food-Lover's Guide to Rosh Hashanah
As a child, this was by far my favorite part of the High Holiday services. Hundreds of us would spill out of the synagogue to gather in the courtyard for a sweet snack, after having sat in temple all morning long. Apples never tasted so good.
This dessert is a nod to that tradition, combining apples and honey in cake form. Chopped apples are folded into a honey-sweetened cake batter, made rich and tender with eggs and almond flour. The cute little cakelets are then drizzled with a flavorful apple spice glaze, then sprinkled with toasted almonds to pretty things up a bit. They're certainly more glamorous than most apple cakes, which so often resemble brown bricks — these little beauties will garner oohs and aahs, trust me on that!
In order to account for the extra sweetness from the glaze, I've made the cake batter much lower in sweetener than most versions you'll find. There's also much less oil in this recipe than most, since the almond flour adds plenty of richness, and the honey and chopped apples keep the batter nice and moist.
The batter will appear to be quite dense, but a generous amount of eggs allows it to rise impressively in the oven. Be sure to fill the cake molds just two thirds of the way up, otherwise they'll have big, pouffy muffin tops. Incidentally, this batter also makes wonderful muffins, loaves, or a regular size bundt cake, if you please.
Where To Find Cakelet Pans!
- I like the variety of shapes (and great nonstick surface) of the offerings from Cake Boss Baking. They retail for $16.99, with some shapes on sale for $13.59 right now in their online store.
- Nordic Ware makes a variety of different cakelet pans —you can browse their selection on Amazon.com. They range from about $20 to $30.
- This pan from Wilton produces extra-teensy cakes, great for an assortment of petit fours. If you're going this small, be sure to chop the apples very small so they won't interfere with the delicate pattern of the pan.
Honey Apple Cakelets
Makes 12 cakelets
- For the cake:
(240 grams) all-purpose flour
(120 grams) almond flour or almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons
grape seed or other neutral-tasting oil
medium Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 1 pound or 3 cups chopped)
- For the glaze:
1 1/2 tablespoons
apple juice (or apple liqueur like Calvados or Applejack)
- To garnish:
toasted sliced almonds
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, spices, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, and oil until fully blended. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and no lumps remain. Gently fold in the chopped apples, then allow the batter to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325°F while the batter rests. Grease and flour two mini bundt cake pans.
Use an ice cream scoop or small ladle to spoon the batter into the bundt pans, filling them two-thirds full. Bake the cakes until well-browned and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Begin testing for doneness at 25 minutes to avoid over cooking.
Allow the cakes to rest in the pans for at least 20 minutes — they will shrink away from the pan and become easier to unmold. Run a small butter knife around the edges of each cake to gently dislodge it from the pan. Invert the cakes and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
When ready to glaze the cakes, whisk together the powdered sugar, apple juice or liqueur, and spices in a small bowl. Spoon the glaze into a sandwich baggie, then snip off a small corner of the baggie and drizzle the glaze generously over the cakes.
While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle the cakes with toasted sliced almonds. Allow glaze to set before moving the cakes.
Pear or Quince Variation: Sub out the apples for pears or quince, and flavor it with cardamom and vanilla in place of the cinnamon and nutmeg.
No cakelet pan? No worries! This recipe can also be baked in 1-cup ramekins. Just grease and flour the ramekins, lining the bottoms with circles of parchment paper for easy unmolding. For easy transfer in and out of the oven, place the ramekins on a cookie sheet, spaced evenly apart.
If you prefer to test your cakes for doneness with an instant read thermometer, remove them from the oven when their internal temperature reaches 210ºF. This is especially helpful if you are using a different-sized pan, since the cooking time will be affected.