Apple slices dipped in honey are a traditional treat for the Jewish holidays, symbolically auguring a sweet new year. This kuchen bears the same good wish.

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Aunt Edith was the best cook I knew when I was a boy. Everything that came from her kitchen was sensational. Dinner at her house was unlike other dining, better than most restaurants. The food was so intoxicatingly delicious, and so abundant, I always ate and ate like there was no tomorrow. And oh, my, could this lady bake.

She and her husband always had a huge open house for the Jewish New Year. There may have been savory fare, but all I remember was the enormous table of desserts. I believe she started baking in June, getting up at dawn to make thumbprint cookies before work and finishing a batch of toffee before going to bed. Everything went into a dedicated holiday freezer, double-wrapped, packed in shoe boxes and neatly labeled.

The assortment was impressive: coconut macaroons, lemon bars, chocolate turtles, rugelach, walnut drops and at least a dozen other offerings. Of course, there was plenty for guests to take home, too.

And then there was Aunt Edith’s delivery service for close friends and family. Every year, we looked forward to a package of sweet sticky pecan rolls, and two kinds of kuchen, one made with little purple plums and another with apples and honey.

A kuchen (German for cake) is easy to love and not too difficult to produce. More coffeecake than dessert, the simplest kuchen involves a quickly made batter topped with sliced fruit of some sort, sprinkled with sugar and baked. Some versions use a yeasted sweet dough.

I have been playing with variations on an apple kuchen recipe for years. This year, I added candied ginger, a touch of honey in the batter and a honey glaze. It is pure comfort. Now is a perfect time to make it, with new crop apples from the market.

Apple slices dipped in honey are a traditional treat for the Jewish holidays, symbolically auguring a sweet new year. This kuchen bears the same good wish.


Makes 8 to 10 servings

For the cake:

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), plus butter for greasing pan

1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting pan

½ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling apples

¼ cup raw honey

3 eggs

1 tablespoon grated ginger

2 ounces candied ginger, diced

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 medium apples, peeled and quartered

For the glaze:

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup honey

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

2. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan, preferably a springform pan.

3. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar, then add honey and whip for one minute, until fluffy.

4. Beat in eggs one at a time, until well incorporated, then whip for two minutes.

5. Stir in grated ginger, candied ginger and lemon zest.

6. Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder and add to bowl, mixing briefly to make a stiff batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.

7. With a paring knife, cut slits in each of the apple quarters on the rounded, outer part of the wedge, slicing partway through at 1/8-inch intervals. Arrange apple quarters slit-side-up over the batter. Sprinkle surface with 1 tablespoon sugar.

8. Place cake pan on a baking sheet and put on middle rack of oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer emerges dry. If cake is browning too rapidly, tent with foil until done.

9. Cool on a rack, then carefully unmold.

10. Make the glaze: Put sugar, honey and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture bubbles, about two minutes. Paint surface of cake and apples with warm glaze. Cake will keep for several days, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.