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Almond paste––not marzipan––creates a cake so tender it's almost creamy
Milk Street Bowtie German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

1½ hours plus cooling

German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

Free

Apfelkuchen, or apple cake, is a classic German sweet of which there are numerous versions. We were particularly fond of Luisa Weiss’s recipe in “Classic German Baking,” which is her adaptation of a recipe she found on a package of almond paste. Almond paste is not a typical ingredient in Apfelkuchen, but it gives the crumb a custardy richness, a moist, tender texture and a pleasant—but not overpowering—almond fragrance and flavor. Tangy-sweet sliced apples are fanned on top of the batter and baked into the surface to an elegant effect. You will need an apple corer to punch out the cores from the apples before halving them. If you don’t own one, halve the apples, then notch out the cores with a paring knife. If you have dark, non-stick bakeware—which transfers heat more quickly than lighter aluminum—reduce the temperature to 350°F and begin checking for doneness on the low end of the baking time.

130 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1½ teaspoons baking powder
214 grams (1 cup) white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the sprinkling
4 ounces almond paste, broken into rough ½-inch pieces
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 small Granny Smith apples (about 12 ounces total), peeled, cored and halved lengthwise
Powdered sugar, to serve
Ingredients
  • 130

    grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

  • teaspoons baking powder

  • 214

    grams (1 cup) white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the sprinkling

  • 4

    ounces almond paste, broken into rough ½-inch pieces

  • ½

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • 8

    tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature

  • 3

    large eggs, room temperature

  • 2

    teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2

    small Granny Smith apples (about 12 ounces total), peeled, cored and halved lengthwise

  • Powdered sugar, to serve

Directions
  1. 01
    Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour; tap out the excess. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  2. 02
    In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the 214 grams (1 cup) sugar, almond paste and salt on low until the paste has broken into crumbly bits, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium-high and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Reduce to medium, then, one at a time, add the eggs, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition.
    See Demo
    german-apple-cake-apfelkuchen-step-2
  3. 03
    Scrape down the bowl, then add the vanilla and continue mixing on medium until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce to low, add the flour mixture and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened, about 10 seconds; it will be thick. Using the spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give the batter a few folds to ensure no pockets of butter or flour remain. Transfer to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer, smoothing the surface.
    See Demo
    german-apple-cake-apfelkuchen-step-3
  4. 04
    Slice each apple half lengthwise into ⅛-inch-thick half circles; do not separate the slices. With your hand, gently press down on each half to fan the slices. Divide the fanned apples into 8 equal portions without undoing the fanned effect. Slide a thin spatula or butter knife under the apples, then slide the slices off the spatula near the outer edge of the cake with the slices fanning outward from the center. One at a time, position another 6 sets of slices on the cake, creating an evenly spaced spoke pattern. Place the last set of apple slices in the center. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar evenly over the top.
    See Demo
    german-apple-cake-apfelkuchen-step-4
  5. 05
    Bake until the edges of the cake are deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the inside of the pan to loosen, then remove the pan sides. Serve warm or at room temperature; dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
    See Demo
    german-apple-cake-apfelkuchen-step-5
Tip: Don’t use marzipan in place of the almond paste. Marzipan is sweeter than almond paste. Also, make sure the almond paste is fresh and pliable, not dried out and hard, or it won’t break down properly during mixing. The apples can be peeled, cored and halved before you make the cake batter, but don’t slice the apple halves until the batter is in the pan. If sliced sooner, the apples may discolor.
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Comments
  • Shilpa S.

    Is the almond paste store bought or homemade? Can you please post a recipe for homemade almond paste?

    1 votes
    0 comments
  • Amy M.

    Love, love, love the flavors of this cake. Additionally, the proportions create a perfect coffee/tea time accompaniment that delighted 9 guests without overwhelming.

    0 votes
    0 comments
  • David N.

    Can you please reveal the brand of almond paste you use and its proportion of sugar to almond?

    1 votes
    0 comments
  • Matthew K.

    If you're a marzipan lover, you'll really enjoy this cake!

    0 votes
    0 comments
  • Orrin C.

    This recipe is delicious!! I made it with (frozen) peaches last time and it was even better! One issue I'm having is getting the fruit to stay on top of the cake- it always sinks to the bottom. I'm wondering if anyone has found a way around this- either by making the batter thicker, or pre-cooking the fruit, or adding the fruit after the cake has been partially baked . . . Any suggestions?

    0 votes
    0 comments
  • Kanika R.

    I made this for Easter and my husband and I absolutely loved it. I used a pre made almond paste (Details on my Instagram @thatcurrysmell) I did reduce the sugar a bit . Used a little more than half a cup as we like our baked goods less sweet.

    0 votes
    0 comments
  • Shilpa K.

    How would you adjust the recipe to make the rhubarb version?

    0 votes
    0 comments
  • Pamela A.

    I made this today and loved the flavor. My springform pan is a darker version, so I watched the time carefully but it was still more done along the outside and the bottom than I would like. Can I adjust the oven temp down by about 25 degrees to compensate?

    0 votes
    0 comments
Down arrow

German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

Get Ready to Cook

8

Servings

1½ hours

plus cooling

Tip

Don’t use marzipan in place of the almond paste. Marzipan is sweeter than almond paste. Also, make sure the almond paste is fresh and pliable, not dried out and hard, or it won’t break down properly during mixing. The apples can be peeled, cored and halved before you make the cake batter, but don’t slice the apple halves until the batter is in the pan. If sliced sooner, the apples may discolor.

Ingredients
  • 130

    grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

  • teaspoons baking powder

  • 214

    grams (1 cup) white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the sprinkling

  • 4

    ounces almond paste, broken into rough ½-inch pieces

  • ½

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • 8

    tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature

  • 3

    large eggs, room temperature

  • 2

    teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2

    small Granny Smith apples (about 12 ounces total), peeled, cored and halved lengthwise

  • Powdered sugar, to serve

Step 1 of 5

Dust Pan

130
grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
teaspoons baking powder

Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour; tap out the excess. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

Step 2 of 5

Combine Ingredients In Mixer

214
grams (1 cup) white sugar
4
ounces almond paste, broken into rough ½-inch pieces
½
teaspoon kosher salt
8
tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
3
large eggs, room temperature

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the 214 grams (1 cup) sugar, almond paste and salt on low until the paste has broken into crumbly bits, 2 to 3 minutes.


Add the butter and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium-high and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Reduce to medium, then, one at a time, add the eggs, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition.

Step 3 of 5
2
teaspoons vanilla extract

Scrape down the bowl, then add the vanilla and continue mixing on medium until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce to low, add the flour mixture and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened, about 10 seconds; it will be thick.


Using the spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give the batter a few folds to ensure no pockets of butter or flour remain. Transfer to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer, smoothing the surface.

Step 4 of 5

Add Apples

2
small Granny Smith apples (about 12 ounces total), peeled, cored and halved lengthwise
2
tablespoon white sugar for sprinkling

Slice each apple half lengthwise into ⅛-inch-thick half circles; do not separate the slices. With your hand, gently press down on each half to fan the slices. Divide the fanned apples into 8 equal portions without undoing the fanned effect.


Slide a thin spatula or butter knife under the apples, then slide the slices off the spatula near the outer edge of the cake with the slices fanning outward from the center.


One at a time, position another 6 sets of slices on the cake, creating an evenly spaced spoke pattern. Place the last set of apple slices in the center. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar evenly over the top.

Step 5 of 5

Bake and Serve

Powdered sugar, to serve

Bake until the edges of the cake are deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.


Run a paring knife around the inside of the pan to loosen, then remove the pan sides. Serve warm or at room temperature; dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

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German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

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