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About Arthur:The New York Times Magazine called Arthur Schwartz “a walking Google of food and restaurant knowledge.” As the restaurant critic and executive food editor of the New York Daily News, which he was for 18 years, he was called The Schwartz Who Ate New York. Nowadays, he is best known as The Food Maven, the name of his website. Whatever the sobriquet, he is acknowledged as one of the country’s foremost experts on food, cooking, culinary history, restaurants, and restaurant history.
A few years ago I was given a recipe for an apple cake that is now on www.thefoodmaven.com. I called it Simple Apple Cake then, and I said that although flour was called for in the original recipe, I thought it was originally a Passover recipe made with matzoh meal, not flour. (That it has no leavening was my clue.) Then I said that I liked it better with flour than matzoh meal. I take that back. It’s much better made with matzoh cake meal.
I worked on the recipe and found that with different mixing technique than I was originally given, and that I published on my website, it was a superior Passover cake; actually a superior cake Passover or not. The revised recipe is, in fact, in “Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited,” and it has now become famous among my friends and family – and I am told among the friends and family of all who have made it and served it.
PASSOVER PAREVE APPLE CAKE
Makes 1 - 8 by 8-inch cake
The cake is better when made a day or two ahead, but cover it with foil, not plastic.
For the topping:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon (or a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, mace, cloves and allspice) For the cake:
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use either grapeseed oil or, if I have it in the house, walnut oil)
3/4 cup matzoh cake meal
5 medium apples, peeled, cored, cut in half, then cut into 1/4-inch slices
(about 5 cups), preferably Golden Delicious, Crispin (Mutzu) or Jonagold
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 by 8-inch baking pan.
In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients together. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, with a hand-held electric mixer, beat the eggs until well mixed. Gradually beat in the first 3/4 sugar, beating until the mixture is light colored and thick. Beat in the oil, adding it in a steady stream. Scrape down the bowl and beat another few seconds. Add the matzoh cake meal and beat to blend well.
Pour half of the batter mixture the prepared pan. Sprinkle about half the topping mixture evenly over the batter. Top with half the apples and all the raisins, if using them.
Pour the remaining half of the batter mixture over the first layers, making sure to cover the apples. Arrange the remaining apples on the top of the batter mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining topping mixture.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the sides of the cake pull away very slightly from the baking pan and the topping has begun to caramelize. (A cake-tester may not come out clean due to the moist richness of this cake.)
Allow to cool thoroughly for several hours in the baking dish before cutting into serving portions. Even better, prepare the cake a day ahead, covering it with foil when cool.