Passover Apple Cake

Passover apple cake. A classic from the astoundingly awesome cookbook author, Arthur Schwartz. Kosher for Passover yet still tastes like any traditional apple cake. Talk about a godsend.

A square of Passover apple cake on a green plate.

This Passover apple cake from renowned cookbook author Arthur Schwartz has magical properties. You see, whatever leftovers you can’t polish off the first day and carefully stash for tomorrow will have morphed from a sugary topping into an indulgently gooey, caramel-like topping. This may be the first time that we’re actively excited not to eat a whole, freshly-baked cake in one sitting. Cake that not only improves but evolves? That’s the kind of magic we like. So enticing we find ourselves making it all year long and not just at Passover. Talk about a godsend. Originally published March 29, 2010.Renee Schettler Rossi

A casserole dish of Passover apple cake with a square removed.

Passover Apple Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (7)
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 40 M
  • Serves 9 to 12
5/5 - 7 reviews
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  • For the topping
  • For the cake


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and lightly oil an 8-inch square glass baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl with a stand mixer or handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs until well combined. Beat in the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until the mixture is thick and foamy. Beat in the oil, adding it in a steady stream. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the spatula, stir in the matzo cake meal, blending well. The mixture will be VERY thick.

Spread half the cake mixture in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle about half the topping mixture evenly over the batter. Arrange half the apples on the batter, making layers if you need. Sprinkle with the raisins. Scrape the remaining batter over the apples, spreading it out to cover the apples. Arrange the remaining apples on the batter and 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 dish and the topping has begun to caramelize. (A cake tester is not reliable. It will not come out clean due to the moist richness of this cake.)

Let the cake cool in the baking dish for several hours until room tempearature before cutting it into serving portions. This cake is yet another Yiddish food that improves with age. Keep the cake in its dish, covered tightly with plastic, and the next day the topping will have become a moist, candy-like coating.

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    *Can I Make My Own Matzo Flour? (or substitute matzos or matzo meal that you finely grind in a blender and then put through a fine sieve)

    • One of our readers shared with us that unless you have an industrial strength food processor, regular matzo meal is not easily converted into real matzo flour as it can cause even a strong processor to almost overheat. But if you have a super-powered one, feel free to try it if you have matzos but no matzo flour available to you.

    Recipe Testers' Tips

    This Passover apple cake was a home run—tender cake with tons of apples and cinnamon sugar running through it all. The cake went together quickly and easily—the “hardest” part was peeling and slicing the apples. The first day the cake was all about the cinnamon sugar. The second day the apples had shared their moisture with the rest of the cake, making the topping a little gooey and melding together the flavors of the eggy cake, sweet apples, and spicy cinnamon sugar. This is definitely a recipe you want to make the day before you want to eat it. I couldn’t find matzo cake meal, so I bought matzo meal and ground it to a fine powder in a coffee grinder. A friend who is familiar with Passover baking told me the only difference was the texture of the meal. It worked beautifully—the cake was tender and finely textured. I used pecans and Pink Lady apples. Next time I will add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and a teaspoon of vanilla (or more) to the cake. It tasted a bit bland to me, despite the large amount of cinnamon. We ate some of the cake when it had cooled to room temperature. We ate more the next day, after it had time to age. It was definitely better the second day. The cake was a good keeper—we ate the last piece the fifth day after baking and it was still as moist and delicious as it had been on the second day.

    This simple Passover apple cake isn't just tasty but fun to make as well. I used a combination of mace, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. You could just as easily use a premixed apple pie spice mix or cinnamon alone. I chose to use a mixture of Granny Smith and Fuji apples as this is what I had on hand. You could use almost any apple with a little flavor. I found that the raisins added another layer of texture and flavor. I opted for pecans as opposed to walnuts simply because they are so darned DELICIOUS! A couple of recommendations. First, you may find it difficult to find matzo cake meal. FEAR NOT! Matzo meal is nothing more than pulverized matzo crackers and matzo cake meal is just finely ground matzo crackers. I pulverized mine in my food processor and then put them through a sifter. The result was a very fine flour-like substance. Next, I mixed my spices, nuts, and sugar in a resealable plastic sandwich bag (it's easier and cleaner than using a bowl). Finally, and maybe most importantly, you should mix your eggs and sugar for nearly 5 minutes. Mixing it until thickened and foamy may be a little subjective. You may certainly use a hand mixer but if you have a stand mixer, by all means, use it. After the mixing is complete, fold in the matzo cake meal completely with a rubber spatula. I covered my apple cake with plastic wrap after it had thoroughly cooled and refrigerated the cake for several hours. This turned out to be one FINE coffee cake!

    Pareve Apple Cake Recipe Larry Noak

    Passover recipes should probably have their own rating system as they can't truly be judged against your year round recipes. This Passover apple cake is almost quite as good as any apple cake that I've made. Its ease of preparation plus delicious results give it reason to be a testers choice! I used yellow delicious apples and they held their shape nicely. The thoroughly beaten eggs become a good leavening agent as we can't use any commercial ones during Passover. This would be a lovely dessert for the seder meal. Additionally, it improved overnight so it could be made in advance and will continue to be a perfect dessert throughout the holiday week. The timing was accurate and the resulting cake was moist and the apples tender. The topping becomes chewy and candy-like as promised. I used only cinnamon as I am not a fan of the other spices but I imagine that they would work well if you like them.

    This Passover apple cake recipe is a true sleeper hit. While I've eaten matzo crackers and used matzo meal to make matzo balls, I've never baked with it. When I tasted the cake batter (yes, I know that one is not supposed to eat batter with raw eggs), I was concerned that this cake wouldn't turn out. The batter tasted very strongly like the crackers, even with the inclusion of the other ingredients. Matzo has a very distinctive flavor. But I saw this recipe through to the end and I am so glad that I did. With the inclusion of crisp, tart apples and the sugar, nut, and spice topping, this cake had a great texture and tasted delicious. My husband couldn’t identify the matzo flavor at all. Baking this cake in a glass pan ensured that the edges as well as the top became nice and golden brown and achieved caramelization from the spiced sugar melting. I found that the cake tasted best when cooled to room temperature. I substituted pumpkin pie spice—a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, mace and cloves—for the straight cinnamon and I could distinctly taste the various spices. I saved a couple of pieces of cake to try the next day and it was still very moist. Some of the spiced sugar mixture remained granular after baking. By the next day, though, it had melted into the apples on top of the cake, giving it a spiced caramel apple-like flavor. One important discovery that I made with this recipe is that matzo meal can be substituted for matzo flour meal when it's ground even finer in a food processor or blender. I couldn’t find the matzo cake meal in any nearby grocery stores. Since they are the same product—the cake meal is just a finer grind—I used matzo meal processed in a food processor. I used Crispin apples. I didn't use raisins.

    I’ve eaten and prepared my fair share of Passover sweets and this Passover apple cake is a nice little treat that coaxes quite a bit of flavor out of matzo meal—no small feat. With this apple cake, you can put away those ubiquitous macaroons and swap out the flourless chocolate cake for an evening! It features simple ingredients and, save for the peeling, coring, and slicing of the apples, it’s quick to put together. The texture is very appealing—its custardy interior is studded with sweet, tender apples and juicy raisins, while the caramelized edges and its exterior offers a nice textural contrast. I preferred a blend of spices for the topping, but that’s a matter of personal preference. I used 2 tsp (4 g) cinnamon, 3/4 tsp (2 g) mace, and 1/4 tsp (1 g). I also added about a teaspoon and a half of lemon zest to the batter, because I find it brings out the flavor of the apples. Some suggested adjustments I have include adding more nuts (you could up to at least 3/4 cup so they aren’t so sparse) and raisins (I’d go up to ½ cup). I’d also reduce the sugar in the topping to 1/2 cup as with the full amount it's more than sweet enough. It would also be nice to add either vanilla or some brandy to the batter. I used 3 1/2 large golden delicious apples (each approximately 8 to 8 1/4 ounces, because that was equivalent to 5 packed cups. I didn’t have an 8-inch square glass baking dish. I did have an 8-inch square brownie pan but I didn’t use it because it didn’t seem deep enough for the cake. Instead, I used a 9-inch springform pan which worked perfectly. It made for a more attractive presentation, too. I whipped the eggs using the whisk attachment on medium-high speed for 2 minutes to get the eggs light and frothy. It then took me about 4 minutes to gradually add the sugar. By this time, the batter was light cream colored and satiny looking. After adding the oil, I whipped it for 1 to 2 minutes—the batter looked like chiffon batter. I then folded in the matzo meal. The deeper springform pan worked well. The cake took about an hour to an hour and a half to cool. I ended up putting it in the refrigerator for about 5 hours and eating it later that night after reheating it. The cake does hold very well in the refrigerator and the top and the sides did get caramely and moist. With a little nudge from a knife here and there to release a caramelized gooey apple or two from the sides, the cake released nicely.

    This Passover apple cake was super easy to make and although there seems to be a lot of sugar it’s loaded with apples, which provides all the balance you need. Using the matzo cake meal as the cake’s base also adds a nice earthiness that keeps the sweetness in check. The cake batter is very thick and that made it tricky spreading the second layer over the apples but persistence and patience pays off. The biggest problem with this dish, if you follow the recipe all the way through to the end, is that you have to wait to eat it. The kitchen—the whole house, really—smelled of luscious apple, walnut, and cinnamon, but we had to live off of that for a day to let the cake’s flavors fully come together. All’s well that end’s well, of course, and it was worth the wait. A day later, the top was moist and candy-like. The one trick was that it seemed the middle layer of topping melted to the bottom of the pan and so it was a little tricky getting the pieces out. Next time I might line the pan with parchment paper. Of course the good side of all that sugar and spice drifting down to the bottom of the pan was sugary, crispy bites that added a nice touch.

    Matzo cake meal—who knew? We were thoroughly impressed by this very moist cake. I used Pink Lady apples, my current favorite for cakes and pies. They have just the right level of tartness and become tender but not mushy when cooked. For the spices, I used 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg and ginger. I will use the same combination for the topping next time but with just 1/2 cup sugar. I did not use raisins. I didn’t think the cake was overly sweet, but I prefer to have more apple flavor come through. Do take your time to incorporate the matzo cake meal into the egg and sugar mixture; just when I thought everything was blended well, I turned my rubber spatula to find a long streak of dry cake meal. I used my ceramic 8-inch square baking pan greased with coconut oil and my Passover apple cake was baked perfectly in 1 hour and 15 minutes, as the recipe says. Most of the sugar on top of the cake was still dry and granular when it came out of the oven but after several hours it had started to look moist and shiny and the following day it all was dark brown and gooey. Yes, this cake does age well—the flavor and texture became more and more cohesive as it sat at room temperature for 3 days. It also freezes beautifully.


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    1. A question – I live in Denver, and would love to try this cake. Any input from bakers on adjustments for the altitude? A New Yorker until four years ago, I’ve had mixed success with recipes I brought with me.

      1. We haven’t tried this at high altitude, Kathy, but would love to hear from anyone who has. I would suggest increasing the oven temperature to 375°F and baking for only about an hour. And unless your apples are very juicy, I’d add a little extra liquid, maybe a tablespoon or so of oil?

      1. Good catch, Janice. Yes, you should peel the apples. I’ve updated the recipe to show that.

    2. Hi there. Is matzo meal the same as matzo cake meal? Or are they two different things? Also, do you have any recipes that use potato starch? Thank you.

      1. Hi Laurie. Matzo cake meal is a finely ground version of matzo, more closely resembling flour. If you have matzo meal, you may be able to use a food processor to grind it a bit more finely. I’ll make some inquiries on the potato starch question, though we don’t typically see a lot of recipes that call for it.

    3. It is a very nice recipe.
      One clarification though:
      On Martha Stewart shoe, Arthur demonstrated this recipe and the order in which the batter/apples/sugar but spice mixture was placed in a baking dish was different from the recipe you posted as follows:The half the batter, then the apples, then the spice mixture, then batter again, apples and finally the spice mixture.
      Which is correct?
      Thank you in advance for your prompt reply.

      1. Helen, I love that you watched his video and noticed the difference! I just checked the original book and our recipe matches Arthur’s original instructions in the book. That’s not to say he didn’t change the ordering over time, as he obviously did. I can imagine putting the spice on top of the apples in the bottom layer helps the spices permeate the apples more, as you get in the top layer, whereas this way lends the batter a little more spiced oomph. It’s not going to be bad either way! But just to confirm, yes, the instructions here exactly mimic the original recipe.

    4. Can you use potato starch instead of matzo cake meal? I have to use gluten-free products and all I could find at the store as a gluten-free potato starch from Manischewitz.

    5. I loved it for Passover I would like to make it year round. How can I adjust with flour (baking powder, baking soda???)

        1. I loved the Passover one because it was less caloric being mostly fruit and nuts . What can I substitute for cake layer?

          1. Gwen, there’s really nothing you can substitute in place of the meal. As soon as you introduce flour, you need eggs and butter/fat for the chemistry to work. Why not make the Passover version all year?

    6. Going to try this weekend, but wondering if I can use a metal baking dish. If yes, would I change temp or time? Thanks!

    7. I made this yesterday. It’s delicious. Instead of raisins, I added 1/2 can of drained tart cherries. (Something my Hungarian mom always use to do when she made an apple cake). It added some wonderful “tartness”. I’ll make this cake again next Passover.

    8. I tried this recipe, only using whole wheat matzo cake meal and the result wasn’t a batter but a very thick dough. Certainly nothing pourable. I assume that change I made was the culprit?

          1. Hi Beth, it is a very thick batter but produces a very moist cake. One of our testers sifted the cake meal. You might try this next time and see if that helps to make the batter more manageable.

    9. This Passover apple cake was really good. A little sweet for my taste but I think most would really like it. I had trouble finding the matzo cake meal. Finally found a Jewish deli with a small grocery store that had it. I made this recipe twice, once with a mix of Granny Smith, Gala, and Pink lady, which turned out a little mushy but still tasted good. Second attempt was with all Granny Smith, which held their shape and the tartness seemed a better outcome. The apples were very tender. The cake is still very moist on the second day. The batter didn’t smell or taste great raw but after being baked the cake is delicious. I think a few more nuts on the top would be excellent, especially since those passing the cake tended to pick off a pecan or two.

    10. This Passover apple cake really does come together quite quickly and easily. I was surprised by the short prep time considering I had to peel, core, and slice 5 apples. I used regular matzo meal because I didn’t see any matzo cake meal in the store and it seemed to work pretty well. I used Golden Delicious apples, like the recipe suggested, and the apples held up very well after cooking. I was confused by the lack of instructions on how to arrange the apples in the pan. Should you arrange them carefully? In a single layer? Dump them in haphazardly? The cake definitely looked and tasted better the next day. As someone who doesn’t like cooked fruit in most forms, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture of this apple cake.

    11. Interesting recipe which I can use next Passover. For in between the Passover holidays, matzo and matzo cake meal are not easy to come by. Is it possible to substitute almond flour? If yes, would it be 1 for 1 or another ratio? Thank you, in advance, for your advice!

      1. Hi Arthur, we haven’t tested this recipe using almond flour so I’m a little reluctant to offer substitution ratios. Since matzo cake meal is made from a previously baked product it will behave a bit differently in a recipe. Please let us know if you try this with almond flour. I’m curious!

    12. I have made this Passover Pareve Apple Cake twice in two days. Brought it to my son’s work place and no one thought it was anything different than a regular cake with cinnamon and apples. They loved it and asked for more. I was “long” on cake meal so I made another one. If you follow the instructions and get the eggs and sugar and oil foamy then the cake rises like a regular cake. The texture, the flavor are all wonderful. Arthur Schwartz was quite the baker!

      1. Hi Shanna, from what I understand matzo meal and flour are not necessarily interchangeable. Since matzo is flour and water that has already been baked, the consistency of the meal is different, the recipe proportions are not the same, and it has a gluten structure that varies from flour in baked goods. You can easily make your own meal by grinding matzo in a food processor. Or perhaps someone has more experience in this substitution? If so, we would love to hear.

    13. This recipe is amazing, and I had lots of happy guests, but I would recommend you cut the sugar in half. It really isn’t necessary and assuming this recipe makes 8 servings it is 375 calories *per* serving.

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