www.marissa.co Farfel Cake

Farfel Cake Recipe

Meet the Farfel Cake a quick and easy cross between an apple cake and shortbread recipe, that uses store cupboard ingredients and has a wonderful crunch and WOW factor.

The Farfel cake’s novel appearance and its soft yet crunchy grated shortbread like topping is a really triumph for something that doesn’t take long to make. This is a very old Sasko recipe (a flour manufacturer in South Africa) that my mum picked in the supermarket in the 1980’s, she recently found the recipe after many years and one bite of the cake,  took me back to my childhood.

In many ways it is a retro bake, you make an easy dough, I whizzed mine in the food processor and then you grated it into the dish, it makes the pastry look interesting in that 1980’s kind of a way. I used a 15x 30cm rectangular flan dish, I love symmetry and this tin give you a lovely rectangular slice. It is however, a cake, so a round tin works well.

There is something about an apple cake that is so comforting and this farfel cake plays to my love for shortbread and apple cake. My family said it was more shortbread than cake and it isn’t very sweet which is what we all enjoy. This is not a fussy recipe, use whatever jam and fruit you have and for extra sweetness sieve more icing sugar on top.

I looked up the origins of Farfel and apparently it resembles a Jewish pasta made from Matzo flour called Farfel, I couldn’t find anything more history and it is so old that Sasko (the South African flour producer) doesn’t feature it on their site either.

The recipe is versatile, you can add any jam you enjoy and any tinned fruit that will retain its shape when cooked or you can sauté your own freshly peeled and chopped apples or pears.

I’m struggling to find a tin of pie apples at the moment, a friend kindly ordered some from the supermarket they use and had sliced peaches substituted instead! Peaches would work but we felt like an apple tart. I resorted to using fresh apples, peeling, chopping lightly fried in butter and sugar and I added a tablespoon of cornflour to soak up any juices when they were cooking in the Farfel cake. It worked really well. I have included the quantities in the notes of the recipe.

Farfel Cake
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
An easy to make and unusual cake with the texture of shortbread on top and the softness of cake on the underside. Between the two layers you have a layer of jam and pie apples. Not too sweet and a little crunch from the grated dough on top.
Recipe type: Cakes
Cuisine: South African
Servings: 4-6
  • 125 grams butter
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 500ml (2 cups) plain flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) plum or apricot jam
  • 400g tin pie apples
  • Serving Suggestion
  • Double cream
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Custard
  1. The recipe can be doubled and the single recipe makes a small 20cm loose bottomed cake tin.
  2. Grease and flour a 20cm loose bottomed tin.
  3. Cream butter, sugar and oil together, using a food process or hand beater.
  4. Crack in the beaten egg and incorporate well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix to form a soft dough.
  6. Divide the dough in half.
  7. Grate half of the dough on the bottom of the cake tin.
  8. Spread the jam over the dough and then spread the apples on top of the jam.
  9. Grate the remaining half of the dough on top of the jam and fruit layer.
  10. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes or until light brown.
  11. Cool and generously sprinkle with icing sugar.
  12. Serve plain or with cream, ice cream or custard.
Using fresh fruit
4 fresh apples chopped or enough to make up 400g
Firmer apples like jazz, pink lady's or granny smiths work well and fried in 2 Tablespoons of butter, 2 Tablespoon brown sugar fried until they just softening and then stir in a tablespoon of cornflour

Tin Size
A single recipe fills a 20 cm round tin
A double recipe fills 30x15 rectangle

I hope you choose to create this recipe. It is so quick and easy and will create a lovely addition to a little something with tea on a Sunday or a dessert on the weekend.

Have you got a bake that you have resurrected from your childhood this lockdown? If so pop your story, a photo and the recipe on my facebook page: themarissa.co or email me: marissa@marissa.co

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