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German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It’s a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples – a perfect fall dessert.

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

Sliced apples and a wonderfully simple batter made from pantry basics like butter, sugar, eggs and flour make up this traditional German apple cake. It’s a lovely rustic cake that is popular in Germany, and once you have tasted it, you will know why!

Also known as Sunken Apple Cake, aka Versunkener Apfelkuchen, it really is a beautiful cake that goes well for dessert, but makes a tasty breakfast paired with a hot mug of coffee.

This easy German apple cake tastes great warm but it tastes even better the next day. Serve alone, or with whipping cram or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Read on for tips, tricks and of course, my classic German apple cake recipe.

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.
Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

Tips for Baking the BEST German Apple Cake

  • Make sure that your butter and eggs are at room temperature before starting for the best results.
  • You absolutely DO need to use cake flour for this recipe. Do not use all-purpose flour!
  • Do not over-mix your batter, over activating the gluten in the flour will make the cake dense and dry.
  • When slicing the apples you want to make small cuts with a paring knife that do not cut through similar to slicing hassle-back potatoes. This helps them bake quicker.
  • You want to fit as many apple quarters as you can so they fit snugly.
  • The batter will rise up and bake around the apples so don’t try to adjust the amount of batter.
Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

What are the Best Apple Varieties for Baking Cake?

For baking this traditional apple cake, it is best to use apples which have a relatively firm pulp, and that are both sweet and tart. Look for apple varieties such as:

  • Braeburn
  • Honeycrisp
  • Jonagold
  • Pink Lady (pictured)

That said, most varieties will work. If you use a more tart variety like Granny Smith you may want to dust with a little more icing sugar. (I actually prefer when this German cake is made with Granny Smith)

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

How to Store Sunken Apple Cake

This apple cake stores well at room temperature in an air tight container for up to 3-4 days.

I find the cake actually improves in flavour the next day as the cake absorbs some of the juice from the apples. This makes it a delicious cake for making ahead to serve the next day.

Just hold off on dusting with icing sugar until just before serving as the moisture from the cake will melt with sugar into the cake.

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

How to Freeze German Apple Cake

This simple apple cake is easy to freeze for longer storage.

To do this, wait until the cake is completely cool.

You can either freeze the cake cold or in individual servings. Simply wrap in plastic wrap as airtight as possible, if freezing in slices, wrap each individually. Then wrap with aluminum foil or place in a plastic freezer bag and label with the date.

You can store your delicious apple cake in the freezer for a good 3 months and simply defrost as needed.

To thaw, put the packaged cake on the counter and let it thaw. The duration depends on the size of the pieces you are thawing out. For a whole apple cake, the defrosting time is around 5 hours at room temperature.

Ingredients for German Apple Cake

About the Ingredients for ApfelKuchen

Apples – Read above for a whole section about which apples to use. Make sure you aren’t slicing the apples all the way through.

Lemon Juice – To prevent the apples from browning.

Butter – Room temperature butter, if you use salted, reduce the additional salt. Don’t substitute, the butter brings a lot of flavour. Plus the traditional recipe uses only butter.

Sugar – Plain old granulated white sugar is best.

Vanilla extract – Real vanilla will give the best flavour but artificial vanilla is perfectly fine. In Germany, vanilla sugar is used instead of vanilla extract. You can buy it on Amazon or make your own if desired but extract is fine.

Eggs – Must be at room temperature!

Cake flour – It’s critical you use cake flour here or you will end up with a dry cake. If you don’t have any on hand you can use all-purpose flour with cornstarch to achieve the fluffiness that cake flour gives this cake. To make your own cake flour substitute, measure out your flour, then remove 2 Tbsp. Add back in 2 Tbsp of cornstarch. Then sift your flour twice over so it is nice and fluffy like cake flour. Ready to use!

Baking powder – Make sure it is active or fresh so it leavens the cake properly.

Salt – Balances out all the flavours.

Milk – We use just a little to moisten the cake. You can substitute with the milk of your choice.

Powdered sugar – Just a little for dusting. Use as much or as little as you like.

Note: You will also need a 9-10 inch spring form cake pan for this recipe.

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

Looking for More Simple Fall Desserts Made with Apples?

Check out some of my favourite recipes for fall desserts made with apples:

This Apple Torte with Maple Walnut Cream Cheese Filling is a delicious fall cake – sure to delight with its warm flavours!

These Old Fashioned Apple Fritters are made with a cakey batter incorporated with juicy apples and glazed. They’re an easy-to-make fall treat.

A delicious apple dump cake recipe that is easy to prepare and makes a great fall dessert served warm with ice cream and caramel sauce!

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

How to Make German Apple Cake

Yields: 12 servings | Prep time: 15 Mins | Cook time: 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 5 apples
  • 2 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice
  • ½ cup (114 g) room temperature unsalted Butter
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ cup (170 g) Cake flour
  • 2 tsp (6 g) Baking powder
  • ½ tsp (3 g) salt
  • 3 Tbsp (50 ml) milk
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

Peel the apples and cut them into quarters.

Hassleback apple quarters.

Then cut into each quarter about 7-8 times without cutting all the way through. (Pictured) Mix in a small bowl with lemon juice and water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-10 inch springform pan with a little butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together (or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer or whisk.)

Add the vanilla extract to the mixing bowl and stir thoroughly.

Add the eggs one at a time to the batter and stir each one for about half a minute .

Mix the cake flour with the salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Add half the dry mixture and 1 tablespoon milk to the dough and mix everything with the mixer on its lowest setting until just combined.

Add the second half of the flour mixture and 2 tablespoon of milk to the dough and stir until just combined.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan using a spatula to spread the batter into an even layer.

apple quarters placed in the batter.

Spread the apples over the batter in a wreath and fill the center of the cake too.

Bake in the lower third of the oven for 45 minutes.

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

When the cake is done, put it on a wire rack to cool. Detach it from the pan by carefully cutting along the edges of the cake along the springform pan with a knife.

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

When the cake has cooled for about 10 minutes, dust the top of the cake with some powdered sugar and enjoy!

German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)
Yield: 12 Servings

German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.

Ingredients

  • 3 – 5 apples
  • 2 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice
  • ½ cup (114 g) room temperature unsalted Butter
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ cup (170 g) Cake flour
  • 2 tsp (6 g) Baking powder
  • ½ tsp (3 g) salt
  • 3 Tbsp (50 ml) milk
  • Powdered sugar

Instructions

Peel the apples and cut them into quarters.

Then cut into each quarter about 7-8 times without cutting all the way through. (Pictured) Mix in a bowl with lemon juice and water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-10 inch springform pan with a little butter.

With a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.

Add the vanilla extract and stir thoroughly.

Add the eggs one at a time to the batter and stir each one for about half a minute .

Mix the cake flour with the salt and baking powder in a small bowl .

Add half the dry mixture and 1 tablespoon milk to the dough and mix everything with the mixer on its lowest setting until just combined.

Add the second half of the flour mixture and 2 tablespoon of milk to the dough and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter comes into the prepared pan, using a spatula to spread the batter evenly.

Spread the apples over the batter in a wreath and fill the middle

Bake in the lower third of the oven for 45 minutes.

When the cake is done, put it on a wire rack to cool. Detach it from the pan by carefully cutting along the edge of the springform pan with a knife. Then take the edge off.

When the cake has cooled for about 10 minutes, dust it with some powdered sugar and enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 192Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 70mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 2gSugar: 26gProtein: 3g

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Classic German apple cake, Apfelkuchen, is moist and buttery. It's a simple and rustic cake made with fresh apples - a perfect fall dessert.
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