Apple and Honey Trifle

by Shoshana on August 23, 2013 · 17 comments

Post image for Apple and Honey Trifle

I know it’s still August, but with Rosh Hashana so early this year it is time to start talking about honey cake. I often feel that in many ways honey cake (lekach) is kind of like the Jewish equivalent of fruitcake. It is the baked good that everyone has to have on the table and give to friends for the holiday celebration to feel complete, but no one really wants to eat it. (Although in the interest of full disclosure I have to say I adore a good fruitcake). Sure it is tradition to have honey cake for Rosh Hashanah, but too often it is so dry that it is barely palatable. It just gets nibbled on and passed up for whatever other dessert offerings there may be. My solution to that is to make a honey cake that is moist and wonderful and truly worth eating. However even though that honey cake would be a perfectly great dessert on its own I find that people’s prejudices against honey cake keep them from even trying a piece, and I always have a ton left over. As a result I tend to make another dessert for Rosh Hashanah in addition to the honey cake because I hate for my guests to go without a real dessert.

This trifle transforms the honey cake from something that is merely symbolic on the table to a show stopping dessert. It takes the tradition of eating apples and honey on Rosh Hashana and makes those flavors the centerpiece of this dish. Sweet sautéed apples are layered with luscious pasty cream and layers of honey cake to make a creamy flavorful fall pudding. This trifle makes the perfect Rosh Hashanah dessert, or would be a great way to use up some of that leftover honey cake once the holiday is over. I always look for ways to incorporate the symbols and flavors of the holiday into as many of the dishes I serve as possible so this is a great way to do it.

Looking for some other apple and honey dessert inspiration? Try some of these!
Apple and Honey Marshmallows
apple and honey marshmallows 250






Apple Galette with Honey Ginger Ice Cream
apple galette with honey ginger ice cream






Apple and Honey Turnovers
Apple and honey turnovers 550






Apple and Honey Tart
Apple and honey tart





Apple and Honey Trifle

Yield: 10-12 servings

Apple and Honey Trifle


4 granny smith apples, peeled and diced small

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons margarine

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 loaf honey cake*

1 recipe pastry cream (see below)

3 tablespoons brandy

*to make this gluten-free use this honey cake recipe instead


Combine the margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saute pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the margarine and sugar are melted. Add the apples and cook until soft 5-10 minutes Set aside until ready to use.

Cut the honey cake into one inch cubes. Layer one third of the cake in the bottom of a 7.5 inch (3.5 quart) trifle dish. Sprinkle with one tablespoon brandy. Top with a third of the pastry cream followed by a third of the apples. Repeat layering two more times. Refrigerate the trifle for at least four hours and up to eight hours to allow the cake to soften and the flavors to meld.

Pastry Cream

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

20 minutes


2 (13.5 oz) cans Thai styl coconut milk

10 tablespoons (5 oz) water

1/4 teaspoon salt (increase to 1/2 teaspoon if using unsalted margarine)

6 tablespoons corn starch

1 cup (7.5 oz) sugar

8 egg yolks

1/2 cup (4 oz) margarine

2 teaspoons vanilla


Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and set aside.

Place the coconut milk, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and eggs until smooth. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens.

Remove from heat and pour through the strainer into the bowl. Let cool for 10 minutes and then incorporate the margarine, one tablespoon at a time, whisking gently just until smooth .

Cover the surface with plastic wrap, directly touching the cream, let it cool completely in the refrigerator.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara | Creative Culinary August 23, 2013 at 9:51 am

I had to laugh because our Christmas holiday is so filled with such horrid fruitcakes…and I have a recipe that is simply WONDERFUL so I know exactly what you mean. Honey cake sounds great to mean, in or out of a trifle…I need to try this!


Alison@Alibabka August 23, 2013 at 11:34 am

I am definitely going to try that pareve pastry cream!


Alessandra (DinnerinVenice) August 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

This looks beautiful. I love all the different types of honey cakes popping up now getting ready for Rosh Hashona!


Rena @ No Way That's Healthy! August 25, 2013 at 10:47 am

This looks gorgeous and sooo delicious! What a great idea!


Sarah Klinkowitz August 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Looks delicious!


Whitney @ Jewhungry August 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Ummmmm . . . this is amazing! There’s no way I’d eat dinner if I knew this was waiting for me. I’d just go straight for it!


Ronnie Fein August 26, 2013 at 8:03 am

Hahahaha. I LOVE honey cake and I LOVE fruitcake too. If they’re good. Last year I posted my honeycake recipe ( and had overbaked one of the cakes. Was wondering what to do with the overbaked one. Your idea sounds terrific.


Melissa {lilmisscakes} August 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I dont know what everyones problem is, I love honey cake, but this trifle is a great idea for those haters.


Chanie@BusyInBrooklyn August 29, 2013 at 10:35 am

That is just. so. pretty. And it looks over-the-top delicious too! I may just have to make this with my leftover honey cake!


Laura August 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Honey cake and pastry cream? YUM.


Vicky September 9, 2013 at 11:07 am

Your parve pastry cream could be used in so many different ways. I am definitely bookmarking the recipe.


Rachel August 31, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Hi. Just wondering. How important is the brandy ?Anything I can replace it with? I don’t have brandy in the house


Shoshana August 31, 2015 at 8:52 pm

The brandy adds moisture and flavor. You could use simple syrup instead but the end result will be a bit sweeter.


neomi September 1, 2015 at 8:25 am

Def making this :) thank you for the fun idea! :)


Shoshana September 3, 2015 at 9:05 am

I hope you enjoy it!


Joanna September 22, 2015 at 12:58 pm

My daughter made this for Rosh Hashanah. It was fantastic. We are honey cake lovers thanks to Marcy Goldman, and now honey cake trifle lovers thanks to you. It is hands down one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, even non-Rosh Hashanah dinner parties would end on a high note with it. Rachel used the brandy which gave it a sophisticated and elegant taste. Brava!


Shoshana October 11, 2015 at 10:08 pm

I’m am slow to see your comment but thanks so much for letting me know. I’m so glad you liked it!


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