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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.

A cake with quartered apples sunken into the top on a glass serving platter.

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.

A slice of cake with apple quarters sunken into the top on a white plate, with whipped cream and a fork.

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

Close up of raw cake dough, with quartered apples on top. The apples have been scored in parallel with 1-2 mm distance.

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.

Whipped Cream in a glass jar with a spoon

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.

A whole cake with quartered apples sunken into the top on a glass serving platter.

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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4.90 from 68 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 Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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) 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.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 183mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 330IU | Vitamin C: 3.1mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!
Nutrition Facts
German Apple Cake Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 208 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 61mg20%
Sodium 67mg3%
Potassium 183mg5%
Carbohydrates 29g10%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 15g17%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 330IU7%
Vitamin C 3.1mg4%
Calcium 53mg5%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

A cake with quartered apples sunken into the top on a glass serving platter.

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About Julia Foerster

Hi, I'm Julia! Born in Germany, I call Canada now my home and love to share my favorite dishes with you! Here you'll find hundreds of recipes, all made from scratch, with lots of tips and detailed step-by-step instructions.

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78 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    How many servings is your Nutritional Label based on? My daughter is wanting to transform this a bit to make for her healthy desserts challenge. Going to try to replace the cake flour with a little bit of whole wheat flour.

  2. 4 stars
    I made it with heirloom Fireside apples and they worked amazingly well. As soon as it came out of the oven I brushed the entire cake top with melted crabapple jelly I had made earlier this year. The cake itself is missing a little “something” I cannot put my finger on. Maybe I should have used more vanilla extract. Next time I may try using a little sour cream instead of the milk. In any event, this is worth making and worth eating. It lasted just under an hour.

  3. 5 stars
    it was so easy to make and tastes so good! i made it for a project in my high school german class and it was a favorite. Took very little time to be absolutely delicious. I would recommend this cake to anyone !

  4. 5 stars
    Love this recipe and it was a big hit at my office last week as well.

    One question, can you just double the ingredients to make a bigger cake?

    1. So happy it was a hit at your office! I haven’t tried doubling the ingredients so I can’t really help but I think it’s better to make two cakes.

  5. 5 stars
    Made it today and it came out perfectly! I used your cake flour trick and vanilla extract instead of vanilla sugar, as it is not common where I live. I also swiped a lemon over my apples after cutting so they wouldn’t brown at all while I mixed the batter. I used four small Gala apples and didn’t quite have room for all of them. I had to bake about 50 minutes for my cake tester to come out clean.

    We served with just a touch of preferred sugar and vanilla whipped cream. It was beautiful, perfect, not too sweet!

    Next time I think I will add a bit of granulated sugar to the apples so they caramelize in the oven more, and we will also try a rum glaze, just for something different. I will also try with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 baking flour, as I am GF. Will report back how it turns out!

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

    1. The video is between the first two images in the post, it will automatically move to the bottom of the screen when you scroll down. If you use an adblocker the video might not show up.

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely perfect! I made the cake yesterday and served with vanilla ice cream. Everyone in my family enjoyed it. Today, I am having it with morning coffee and enjoying it even more! I think this is such an ideal cake for afternoon coffee/tea or even a sweet treat for breakfast. Also would transport well to bring to a brunch. I wouldn’t change anything about the recipe.

  7. When we were stationed inGermany 1974 my beloved landlady, Inga taught me this recipe. I spent many hours in her kitchen. Ingrediants names were my first German words. We still keep in touch now many decades later. Thank you for refreshing my memory!

  8. 4 stars
    It was really good and beautiful. However, it was a but dry. But that might have been because I used cafe flour made from ap flour.

    Thank you tho, my family loved it