Apple and Honey Trifle

August 23, 2013

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






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Ingredients & Instructions

Ingredients & Quantities

  • 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
Apple and Honey Trifle

Preparation Instructions

  1. Combine the margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saute pan.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the margarine and sugar are melted.
  3. Add the apples and cook until soft 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Cut the honey cake into one inch cubes.
  5. Layer one third of the cake in the bottom of a 7.5 inch (3.5 quart) trifle dish. Sprinkle with one tablespoon brandy.
  6. Top with a third of the pastry cream followed by a third of the apples.
  7. Repeat layering two more times.
  8. Refrigerate the trifle for at least four hours and up to eight hours to allow the cake to soften and the flavors to meld.

Recipe Details

Recipe Times


10 Minutes


10 Minutes


20 Minutes

Recipe Yield

10-12 servings

Recipe Categories

  1. 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!

  2. I am definitely going to try that pareve pastry cream!

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

  4. 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!

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

  6. 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!

  7. Honey cake and pastry cream? YUM.

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

  9. Rachel

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

    • Shoshana

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

  10. neomi

    Def making this 🙂 thank you for the fun idea! 🙂

    • Shoshana

      I hope you enjoy it!

  11. Joanna

    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

      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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