Mother's Day Apple Cake

After exploring Hana Shaulov’s 1988 book Jewish Holiday Cakes in last month’s post – baking an Orange & Almond Passover Torte – I decided that I liked this book so much that I wanted to try another recipe. Shaulov wrote in the book’s introduction: “Of course, there are holidays that are not traditionally Jewish. Many children wonder what to prepare for Mother’s Day.” Well, children, we are here to help! Because I’ve taken Shaulov’s recipe for Apple Pound Cake and dressed it up for a gorgeous spring celebration.


There is room for a lot of variation in this cake. If you need to make it kosher, use vegetable shortening instead of butter. Add the spice blend of your choice; I used cinnamon, and steeped two bags of cardamom black tea in the buttermilk overnight. It gave the cake a luscious floral flavor that paired well with the edible flowers I decorated it with. Edible flowers are grown without pesticides and are carefully washed, and of certain varieties that are safe for human consumption. I ordered stunning pansies from GourmetSwtBotanicals on Etsy’ they also offer orchids, violas and a mix of Marigold, Calendula, Snapdragon, Rose, Cosmos, Mums, Carnation, Dianthus. You can sometimes find edible flowers in the fresh herb section of the grocery store and, of course, in your own garden.


This cake can also easily be baked as a loaf, or a layer cake with cream cheese frosting or sour cream glaze. I’ve included time and temperature adjustments for these different formats below. 


Mother’s Day Apple Cake 

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

½ teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or spices of your choice) 

8 ounces butter (two sticks), room temperature 

1 cup sugar 

3 eggs 

1 tablespoon vanilla 

⅔ cup buttermilk 

2 generous cups chopped apples (2-3 apples, use a cooking apple like Granny Smith)


1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Grease and flour your pans. Or, if using a bundt pan, grease and sugar it. 

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy and light; about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beater with a spatula.

4. Add eggs, beating after each addition, then vanilla.

5. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour and buttermilk. Beat until smooth.

6. Fold in apples.

7. Pour the batter into greased pans and bake. If using two 9x5in loaf tins, bake 30-40 minutes; if using two 9in round layer pans, 20-30 minutes; if using a bundt pan, 45-55 minutes. To test if the cake is ready, insert the tip of a knife or a wooden skewer into the center of the cake. If the knife or skewer comes out clean, the cake is baked.

8. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan: use a thin knife to loosen the sides if baking a layer or loaf cake, then invert on to a cooling rack, tapping the bottom of the tin until loosened. With a bundt, place a rack on top of the pan, say a tiny prayer, and flip the whole thing over. Hopefully, the cake will release.

9. Serve with whipped cream, frosting, or a dusting of confectioner’s sugar and decorate with edible flowers.



Sarah Lohman is a culinary historian and author of Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine published by Simon & Schuster.  Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, All Things Considered, CNN, Gimlet Media, and NHK Japan. She appeared in two seasons of The Cooking Channel's Food: Fact or Fiction and was a video producer for New York Magazine's food blog, Grub Street.  She performs across the country giving food history lectures and cooking classes with Masters of Social Gastronomy as well as independently. Her next book Endangered Eating: Exploring America's Vanishing Cusine is set to release Jan 2023. For more information visit




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