German Apple Cake

German Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen) is a traditional German dessert that is so easy to make even if you aren’t totally kitchen confident! With a simple batter that rises up and bakes around the apples this easy apple coffee cake is the perfect everyday dessert that tastes best with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

German Apple Cake

Sunken Apple Cake is one of the easiest cakes to make! With a simple batter that rises up and bakes around the apples this coffee cake is easy enough to make every day but also special enough for a holiday dinner.

This traditional apple cake is served with a dusting of powdered sugar on top and a big dollop of whipped cream. But for special occasions, I love to serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. So delicious!


What also makes this cake a great choice for holidays, potlucks, or parties is that it tastes best on the next day. I always make this cake one day in advance! It is moister and more flavorful on the next day because the apples will infuse the cake.

In Germany, this cake is often served in the afternoon for “coffee and cake” time (Kaffee und Kuchen). It’s a coffee break at around 3 pm where people sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with a piece of cake, a pastry, or cookies. My grandparents do this every day.

Easy Apple Cake Recipe

Tips and Tricks for Making German Apple Cake

  • Making small cuts but not cutting through the apples makes them bake quicker. Using a small knife for this work best.
  • You want to fit as many apple quarters as possible in the pan and they should be placed quite snug. This recipe doesn’t make much batter because the batter will rise up and bake around the apples.
  • This cake tastes great warm but it tasted even better on the next day in my opinion.
  • You can brush the apples with hot apricot jam after you take the cake out of the oven. This adds a nice shine!
  • You need cake flour for this recipe! If you don’t have it at home you can easily make your own (see below).

How to make cake flour from all-purpose flour

To make cake flour from all-purpose flour, you measure one cup of all-purpose flour, remove two tablespoons flour from the cup and add 2 tbsp cornstarch. Sift the mixture two times to evenly distribute the cornstarch.

1 cup AP flour – 2 Tablespoons AP flour + 2 Tablespoons cornstarch = 1 cup cake flour

Apple Cake made with Sliced Apples

What apples to use for Apple Cake?

You need small apples for this recipe, so they get soft while baking and to fit more into the pan. I always use what I have on hand. Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, or Boskop apples, all taste great in this cake. The quality of the apples is really important because the cake is so simple and the apples are the main flavor. If you use a really sour apple, don’t skip the sweetened whipped cream because this cake will not be as sweet as an American cake.

How to make Vanilla Sugar from Scratch

To make vanilla sugar at home you need 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 vanilla bean. Place the sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Scrape out the vanilla bean using the back of a knife and scrape the seeds into the bowl with the sugar. Pulse the sugar and vanilla seeds until well incorporated. Store vanilla sugar together with the scraped-out vanilla bean in an airtight container until ready to use.

Can you freeze Apple Cake?

Yes, you can freeze the baked cake. Let it cool to room temperature, cover it airtight with plastic wrap and freeze it up to 3 months.

How long will Apple Cake stay fresh?

This cake will stay fresh 3-4 days covered at room temperature. It tastes best on the second day in my opinion. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar just before serving.

Homemade whipped cream

What to serve with apple cake?

Whipped cream is traditionally served with German apple cake. But I also love a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

How to make whipped cream?

To make whipped cream (Schlagsahne), you need 1 cup cold heavy cream and 1 tbsp sugar or vanilla sugar. To make it easier and more foolproof, place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Put the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Don’t overwhip or you get butter not whipped cream! Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 10 hours.

Looking for more Apple Cake Recipes?

If you are looking for more German recipes you can find all of them here.

Simple Apple Cake Recipe

Tools used for making this Apple Cake Recipe

Springform Pan: You need one of these for this cake. 9-inch and 10-inch pans work both.
Vanilla Sugar: In Germany, vanilla sugar is used instead of vanilla extract. You can buy it on Amazon or make your own.
Cake Flour: You need cake flour for this recipe. German all-purpose flour equals American cake flour. Using American all-purpose flour in this recipe would result in a dry cake.

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German Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen) is a traditional German cake that is so easy to make even if you aren’t totally kitchen confident! With a simple batter that rises up and bakes around the apples this easy coffee cake is the perfect everyday dessert that tastes best with a dollop of cream on top.
Print Recipe
4.91 from 10 votes

German Apple Cake Recipe

German Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen) is a traditional German dessert that is so easy to make even if you aren’t totally kitchen confident! This easy coffee cake is the perfect fall dessert that tastes best with a dollop of whipped cream on top. CHECK OUT THE RECIPE VIDEO BELOW!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Baking, Dessert
Cuisine: German, Holiday
Keyword: Apple Cake Recipe, Fall Baking
Servings: 12
Calories: 208kcal
Author: Julia


  • 4 small apples
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (see instructions above)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease the bottom of a 9- or 10-inch springform or use parchment paper.
  • Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Thinly slice each quarter lengthwise without cutting all the way through (like in the image above).
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat for 30 seconds on high speed after each addition.
  • Add vanilla sugar (or extract), salt, and lemon juice. Beat until combined.
  • Combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low speed add half of the flour, then 1 tbsp milk, followed by the remaining flour, and then the remaining milk. Beat until just combined. Don't overmix!
  • Transfer batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Distribute the apples with the sliced side up on top (see image above).
  • Bake in the lower third of the oven for 45 minutes, until lightly browned and a skewer comes out clean.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and remove the springform ring. Let cake cool on the bottom of the springform pan to room temperature.
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar over the cooled cake and serve with sweetened whipped cream.



Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 183mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 6.6% | Vitamin C: 3.8% | Calcium: 5.3% | Iron: 2.6%
Nutrition Facts
German Apple Cake Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 208 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Sodium 67mg 3%
Potassium 183mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 15g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 6.6%
Vitamin C 3.8%
Calcium 5.3%
Iron 2.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

German Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen) is a traditional German cake that is so easy to make even if you aren’t totally kitchen confident! With a simple batter that rises up and bakes around the apples this easy coffee cake is the perfect everyday dessert that tastes best with a dollop of cream on top.



If you’ve tried this or any other of my recipes, don’t forget to rate the recipe and to leave me a comment. I love hearing from you!


  • Vipa Suttipong

    Thank you very much for the recipe. I missed this cake. I used to make it when I was in Germany about 40 years and I lost the recipe. Today I tried your recipe and it came out very yummy. Love you!

  • Suha Jundi

    Hi Julia,
    I first got the recipe for this wonderful cake from the “Viking River Cruises” website and have been baking it for some time. Lately, I found it on your website and was very happy to discover a great blogger with the best culinary hints and detailed notes that make a lot of difference in getting the best results in any recipe. Thank you Julia⚘
    What flour do you recommend for a gluten-free recipe?

  • Rebecca Rockefeller

    I’ve made this 3 times, and I’m making this a fourth time this weekend! The recipe I was originally given by a friend said to use almond extract instead of vanilla extract, but it somehow still tasted like a vanilla cake, which was very weird. Also, every time I’ve made this, I didn’t have cake flour, but even so, everyone who had it loved it and it won me a competition back in high school. I think this time I will try to make it with cake flour. I do have a question though: can you make this in a pan other than a springform pan? I have to feed a crowd of about 40, and I was wondering if I could make this in a 9×13 inch. Thanks!

    • Julia

      Yes, I think a 9×13 inch baking form would work. I would probably double the recipe and keep an eye on the cake while it is in the oven because it will probably take a bit longer to bake. – Julia

  • Karin

    I grew up in Germany. I love this cake recipe and my other German friends as well. Have been sharing your yummy recipe with all my friends. Thank you!

  • Michelle Spencer

    I made this yesterday & it’s delicious. I had less butter than recommended (I used what I had) and I’m too lazy to cream butter & sugar these days. I just melted the butter then mixed it into the sugar then the flour l, then tipped the egg, milk & essence in on top and stirred until mixed by hand. It worked fine. A bit crumbly due to the reduced fat. Your hint about flour does seem to improve the texture. This is a childhood favourite I hadn’t made in ages. Thank you.

  • Jennifer

    I am baking this for a Halloween party this weekend, but I have to tell you: a friend of mine, who lives in Austria with her German husband, baked this for a Kagfeeklatsch with an Austrian friend. The friend requested the recipe! It was that good and that authentic! I can’t wait to try it! I’m doubly excited to find your recipes because I teach German and am always looking for properly authentic recipe sources to share with my students for our various culture/ food units.

  • Rita Johnson

    Made it for the first time today. I tossed the apples in a spiced blended whiskey & brandy. Then I sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the top. After baking, I glazed it with apricot preserves. A winner according to my husband. I will be making more as our church is having a German supper.

  • Patricia Starman

    Hi Julia! I am so looking forward to making this recipe!! Can I use MacIntosh apples? In all your recommendations you did not mention that kind and I was hoping I could use those, as they are my favorite. Thanks so much for this great looking and seemingly easy recipe. Looking forward to trying many more!!

  • Erika Marold

    Hi, I made this for the first time. It was a big hit however, personally, I thought it was a bit dry. Not sure if I did anything wrong. I used Granny Smith apples as they are the ones I usually bake with. Any thoughts on the dryness?
    I was thinking next time to make a rum glaze with powdered sugar and rum and just drizzle the cake with that instead of just powdering it. Or perhaps, sprinkling cinnamon sugar on it before baking to maybe moisten the apples.
    Any other suggestions you have would be appreciated.

    • Julia

      Cakes like this taste best on the second day in my experience. On the first day, they are usually a bit drier than on the second, but the cake shouldn’t taste dry. Usually baking too long or an oven that runs too hot are the problem when a cake comes out dry. You might also try using a different kind of apple, perhaps something sweeter that releases more moisture like a Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, or Gala apple. But the rum glaze sounds like a great addition and I also always serve this cake with whipped cream! Hope this helps!! – Julia

  • Nelly

    I made this for our weekend family dinner and it was a hit! I didn’t have cake flower so I made my own following your directions. Great recipe!

    • Julia

      It’s a mixture of granulated sugar and vanilla beans. In Germany, Vanilla Sugar is much more common than Vanilla Extract. But if you don’t have time to make your own (there are instructions in the post) you can also use 2 tsp vanilla extract instead. – Julia

    • Julia

      Yes, if you don’t have any lemons you can omit the lemon juice. I hope you’ll like it, it’s one of my favorite things to bake on the weekend.

  • Heather

    Looks lovely is it self raising flour you use if so would you still use baking powder
    Kind regards
    In England

  • Jenny

    Hi Julia,
    Your Versunkener Apfelkuchen looks delicious, I bow my head. Just for you to know, all recipes I know call for regular all-purpose flour as cake flour doesn’t exist in Germany. I am sure you can tweak the recipe to do without. But other than that sounds very authentic. One of my favorite cakes of all times.
    Greetings from Germany,

    • Julia

      Hi Jenny, thank you for your nice comment! Actually, German all-purpose flour (Type 405) is like American cake/pastry flour (and American all-purpose flour is like German Type 550 flour). That’s why I recommend using cake flour and not all-purpose :-) But if you are in Germany, Type 405 is the right choice. – Julia

      • Jenny

        Hi Julia,
        I always used the method of taking two spoons of flour Type 405 away and replace it with cornstarch to get cake flour, if an American recipe called for cake flour, but apparently that is not necessary! Thanks for letting me know.

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