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





Recipe Updates – Delivered Fresh!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Recipes

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

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.

Pastry Cream


  • 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


  1. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the coconut milk, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. 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.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens.
  5. 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.
  6. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, directly touching the cream, let it cool completely in the refrigerator.

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. 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!

    • Hi Marci,
      When I load the page the pastry cream shows up under the trifle recipe. It may have been a temporary glitch. Please let me know if you are still having trouble seeing the recipe and I will send it to you.

    • I am not sure what you mean by “dairy topper”. If you want it to still be parve. You could replace the pastry cream with coconut whipped cream (so delicious makes a premade version) but it will not be as rich in flavor as if you use the vanilla pastry cream, and the end result will be a bit drier. If you want to make it dairy you can use whipped cream instead or pre-made vanilla pudding.

  3. I made this exactly as it was in the recipe for Yom Tov and it was AMAZING! Loved the pastry cream … delish. Beautiful presentation and so delicious! It got rave reviews.

  4. Just made this! I did use a dairy pastry cream recipe b/c our meal is dairy, and I have a recipe that I love. I also used 1 TBS honey while cooking the apples, and instead of brandy, I just used the liquid that came out of the apples when they cooked! SO delicious 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.