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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

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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. This recipe was developed with a conventional (that is, not nonstick) springform pan. If yours is nonstick or otherwise has dark finish, to prevent overbaking, heat the oven to 350°F and begin checking for doneness on the low end of the time range

8

Servings

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.

1½ hours

plus cooling

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
¼ teaspoon table 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

  • ¼

    teaspoon table 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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Reviews
Carol K.
June 5, 2022
Sublime
Made for husbands 76th birthday! Lovely cake!
Shilpa S.

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

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.

David N.

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

Matthew K.

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

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?

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.

Shilpa K.

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

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?

Lee C.

Hi Pamela, I just made this cake today and also love the flavor. But I also have a dark colored pan and I think it got too done (in 50 minutes). So next time I am definitely lowering the oven temp by 25 degrees. I think that should work.

Jennifer Z.

My family absolutely loves this cake. So easy and the flavor is perfect. If you like almond flavor in your desserts this is a must try.

Christina T.

A winning recipe and an easy crowd pleaser. After reading a comment from Kanika above , I ordered the almond paste from Mandolin, Inc., a California almond grower. Fyi cheaper to order directly from the company than Amazon. Highly recommend to use this almond paste since it's the quality of the almond paste that makes the cake so good

Gary M.

The recipe states "heat the oven to 350°F and begin checking for doneness on the low end of the time range" - WHAT IS THE TIME RANGE?
The recipes should state first and in bold lettering - Oven temp & time - instead of hiding it at the first for one part and time at the bottom.

Lynn C.

Hi Gary -

I think you are referring to the note at the top of the recipe that gives alternate instructions for using a springform pan with a dark finish? Are you using a springform pan with a dark finish? If so, In Step 1, where the recipe states "Heat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle position," you would heat the oven to 350 degrees instead. In Step 5, where the recipe states, "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," you would want to start checking the cake for doneness at 50 minutes. Since these are alternate instructions we do not include them in the master recipe.

Based on years of feedback from home cooks on how they want the information presented in recipes, our recipe writing template includes the information where it is necessary and appropriate for you to know. It is meant for you to follow along as you are preparing the recipe. For example, we always call for heating the oven as the first step in a recipe so the oven has time to preheat before the food is ready to go in. If we didn't do it this way your cake batter/cookie dough, etc. would have to sit out on the counter waiting for the oven to preheat. This could negatively impact the leavening in the cake/cookies and potentially affect the final texture due to loss of air in the batter, warming of the batter/dough, etc. The timing is included at the point when you have finished the batter, put the pan in the oven, and are ready to set your timer. Based on that, we wouldn't want to tell you to heat the oven and bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes as the first step of the recipe. It wouldn't make sense before you've actually made the batter. We hope that clears things up!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Diana L.

It was very good. I have used almond flour (4 oz of it) as I did not have the almond paste. I also only put 1/2 cup of sugar as I had sweeet apples. Its super easy to make and you cant mess it up.


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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

  • ¼

    teaspoon table 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
¼
teaspoon table 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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