This easy applesauce cake with rich honey frosting is a new staple for your Rosh Hashanah dessert table

Julia Turshen’s recipe is the stress-free sweet you’ll be making all autumn long.

Julia Turshen’s recipe is the stress-free sweet you’ll be making all autumn long

(Photography by David Loftus)

Every so often, a recipe comes along that’s so seasonally on point, it’s instantly imprinted into the rituals that make that time of year special. This Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese & Honey Frosting from Julia Turshen’s new cookbook Now & Again is one of those recipes. If you celebrate Rosh Hashanah, you’ll surely appreciate Turshen’s nod to the holiday’s signature flavours — and value how simply it comes together perhaps even moreso. Whether or not you celebrate this holiday, you’ll find yourself gravitating to this sweet for its use of the autumnal ingredients we all crave come fall. Read on to learn more about the inspiration for this dish, and scroll down for the full recipe.

Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese & Honey Frosting

By Julia Turshen

The food most closely associated with Rosh Hashanah is apples dipped in honey, an autumnal gesture to shepherd in a sweet year. A lot of desserts feature apples and honey, and this super-simple cake (which requires one bowl and one cake pan) fills the bill. I like this cake so much (and especially love how easy it is to make) that I make it often, especially throughout the fall when apples are on the mind. Its texture and appeal are similar to those of banana bread. If you like, you can stir in a large handful or two of raisins and/or nuts just before you scrape the batter into the cake pan. Although you can absolutely use homemade applesauce for this, know that store-bought is just fine.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • ⅓ cup canola or other neutral oil


  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Pinch of kosher salt


For the cake:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Set the pan aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and baking soda. Add the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, applesauce, and oil and whisk gently just until everything is combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared pan and then smooth the surface so it is even.

Bake the cake until it is just barely firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Set the cake aside on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan sides and then invert it onto your work surface. Peel off and discard the parchment. Invert the cake one more time onto a serving platter.

For the frosting:

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, honey, and salt and whisk together aggressively until the cream cheese is slightly aerated (you can also do this with a handheld electric mixer or in a stand mixer).

Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and don’t worry too much about making this perfect. I think a not-too-perfect cake is so much better than a perfect cake. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Yield: Makes 1 cake (8-10 servings)

Excerpted from Now & Again by Julia Turshen. Photography by David Loftus. Recipes Copyright © 2018. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.


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