Apple Streusel Sheet Cake is so easy to make from scratch and tastes amazing! A simple but so flavorful German apple cake that’s topped with the most delicious cookie-like streusel.
Apple Streusel Sheet Cake is made with fresh apple chunks and topped with crunchy German streusel. German streusel is different from an American crumb topping. It’s more cookie-like on top and soft on the bottom where it meets the cake. It’s my favorite topping for cakes and muffins!
The filling of this cake is a mixture of fresh apple chunks and apple sauce which guarantees a moist cake even on the next day! Many crumb cakes in Germany are made with yeast dough and are more on the dry site. But this cake is made with a shortbread dough and so much easier to make. No need to let the dough rise! Just press it into the pan, top it with the apple mixture and scatter the streusel with your hands on top and you are done!
Apple desserts like this are perfect for fall but I make them all year round! This easy-to-make apple cake is a great dessert for potlucks and parties. I serve it still warm with a big scoop of ice cream or cold from the fridge. Everyone loves this easy apple dessert!
Tips and tricks for making this Apple Streusel Sheet Cake
- I like to use Elstar or Jonagold apples for this recipe but Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, or Pink Lady would work, too.
- You can use granulated sugar or brown sugar for the streusel topping. I prefer granulated sugar! Brown sugar is not common in Germany, you can’t get it in any German grocery store so if you want to make authentic German streusel use white sugar.
- No need to press the crumbs onto the cake, they will melt while baking and stick together!
- I recommend refrigerating the cake after it is completely cool. It keeps fresh, covered with plastic foil, for a few days in the fridge. The cake tastes great cold and will hold its shape better.
The secret of extra delicious German Streusel is to make them bigger. Use your hands and rub the dough between your fingers, press the smaller crumbs together and sprinkle them over the cake.
Looking for more Streusel-topped desserts?
- Easy Lemon Raspberry Cake
- Plum Cake with Streusel
- Raspberry Muffins with Streusel Topping
- Easy Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
- Banana Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel
Tools used for making this Apple Streusel Sheet Cake
9 x 13 inch Pan with Lid: I love this baking pan! It comes with a lid so it’s easy to transport baked goods or casseroles and it’s super easy to clean, everything slides right off. I use this pan for all my 9×13-inch cakes, bars, and casseroles.
Stand Mixer: The most beautiful appliance in my kitchen! I own it in the gorgeous Ice Blue but the new Imperial Black one is my current favorite color.
Vanilla Extract: This is my favorite vanilla extract. I also love their vanilla sugar for recipes where I don’t want to add more liquid.
Applesauce: I like to use this applesauce for my German Apple Cake because it is unsweetened but if you like your cakes more on the super sweet side you can also use sweetened applesauce.
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Apple Streusel Sheet Cake
- 4 cups all-purpose flour divided (500g)
- 1 1/2 cups butter divided (340g)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (70g)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 5 apples
- 1 1/3 cup applesauce sweet or unsweetened
- 1 tsp lemon zest freshly grated
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated or brown sugar (100g)
- Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan and preheat your oven to 350F (180C).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla extract, 2 cups all-purpose flour and egg. Beat until everything is incorporated. Spread the dough onto the baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the fridge while you make the apple and crumble layer.
- Leave the remaining 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter on the kitchen counter to get to room temperature.
- Peel and core the apples and chop them into small chunks. Mix the apple chunks with the lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon and apple sauce. Set aside.
- For the crumb topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the remaining soft 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter with 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup sugar (see Note 4). The mixture will be crumbly.
- To assemble the cake, spread the apple mixture onto the dough layer. Then use your fingers to crumble the crumbs on top. Press some crumbs together to form bigger crumbs, you don't want the crumbs to be too fine.
- Bake for 45 minutes until the crumbs are lightly golden.
- Let the cake cool off completely. It will be a little bit soft while hot.
- Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!