My recipe for German Apple Cake is just like Oma’s Apple Cake. Also known as Versunkener Apfelkuchen or German Kuchen, this is an easy and sweet rustic recipe treat to make from scratch.
There are a variety of fresh apples you can use to create this delicious, comforting cake that’s perfect to enjoy with tea or coffee. This authentic German Kuchen recipe tastes just like Oma made it. Güten Appetit!
Content Covered Here
Authentic German Kuchen
My son-in-law was born and raised in Germany, and I surprised him by making this dessert for him a while back.
I’ve been making this apple cake recipe for several years now, and he says it is an authentic German Versunkener Apfelkuchen, also known as Sunken Apple Cake.
Authentic German Apple Cake
Unlike American-style cakes, kuchen is less sweet and more like a coffee or tea cake. In fact, in Germany, traditional cakes like this are served in the afternoon with coffee (called Kaffee und Kuchen, coffee and cake).
It is the American equivalent of a coffee break, usually shorter on workdays and more leisurely on the weekends.
This dessert is rich and wonderfully creamy, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon and thick slices of sweet, tender apples. Just like Oma’s German apple cake was. It brings a lovely rustic bit of comfort to the table, and is a must-make for your next family brunch or teatime!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
This recipe is made mostly with pantry staples, plus fresh, crispy apples.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter, if possible, to prevent your dessert from being overly salty.
- Sugar – Granulated cane sugar is best for baking. Although this recipe hasn’t been tested with sugar substitutes, you’re welcome to try it! For the best chance of success, we suggest using a cup-for-cup sweetener, like monk fruit sugar.
- Eggs – Bring the eggs to room temperature before you start baking.
- All-purpose flour – For an extra light texture, you can substitute cake flour for up to half of the all-purpose flour.
- Apples – You can learn about the best apples for baking in our Bisquick apple cobbler post.
So, as you can see from this great list of basic ingredients, what makes a perfect Versunkener Apfelkuchen recipe is the simple but precise method by which the apple cake is made.
How to Make Authentic German Kuchen
You will love how easy it is to prep and bake this humble, perfectly sweet, and spice-filled cake.
Make it a day or so before you plan to serve, or whip it up as a last-minute afternoon snack.
It only takes about an hour until you’re able to enjoy tender, warm cinnamon and vanilla cake with juicy fresh apples!
Here are my steps for making an authentic German Apple Cake from scratch:
Pan preparation. Prepare a springform pan by greasing (if not non-stick) and lining the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
Spread batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top to make even.
Assemble the cake. Preheat the oven, and prep the apples by thinly slicing with a mandolin or paring knife. There are two ways to place the apples into the Versunkener Apfelkuchen:
- You can fan out the apples around the cake in a single layer for the softest, most tender apples.
- Or, as I’ve done in the cake shown in this post, you can group the apples together (about 1/3 of an apple) and gently press into the cake batter. This results in a slightly firmer apple with a bit of bite.
Next, generously sprinkle the top with a combination of sugar and cinnamon.
Bake the cake. Bake them until it the top is golden in color and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool a bit before taking it out of the springform pan.
- Nutella-style version: stir 1/2 cup of Nutella into the batter just before spreading it into the pan. Then, top with sliced almonds before baking.
- Add dried fruit: 1/2 cup of raisins or dried cranberries to the batter.
- For a bit of crunch, top the cake with chopped walnuts or pecans before baking.
- For a fun twist on the traditional German apple cake recipe, try using Granny Smith apples and serve with a dollop of whipped cream cheese frosting.
Serving Suggestions for German Kuchen
Of course, it’s delicious on its own, or try one of these ideas:
- For breakfast or brunch, serve with a side of yogurt and fresh fruit.
- Serve with a cup of a hot tea or cold glass of milk.
- As an afternoon snack, enjoy a slice with a cup of coffee or espresso.
- For dessert, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
You can serve them warm or at room temperature. For an extra lovely presentation, I like to dust the top of the German apple cake with a bit of confectioners sugar before serving.
Storage and Reheating
Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, place in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.
You can also freeze the cake for up to 3 months. Wrap it in plastic and then a layer of foil and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
To reheat slices of German apple cake, microwave them on a plate for 20-30 seconds, or until warmed through.
What’s my secret for developing this fantastic apple cake recipe? Well, not only is my son-in-law from Germany, but as a teenager, I actually lived in Germany with my family. I graduated from high school in Berlin, and I met my husband (who was stationed in the U.S. Army) there.
So, it seemed pretty kismet that our daughter met her husband in college when he was here for a semester abroad!
German Apple Cake (Kuchen)
- 9-inch springform pan
- medium mixing bowl
- ¾ cup butter softened, but not melted
- 1½ cup cane sugar
- 3 eggs room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour or cake flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 medium baking apples
- Prepare the springform pan by greasing it with butter or non-stick baking spray. *If your pan isn't non-stick, also line the bottom with parchment paper.
- To a medium mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), add butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Using the stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat ingredients together on medium-high power until creamy. Stop mixer and use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.To the bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix on low speed, just until combined.
- Spread batter into prepared springform pan, then use an offset spatula or back of a large spoon to smooth the top. Turn on oven to 325° F to preheat while you prepare the apples.
- Peel and core the apples. Using a mandolin or paring knife, cut apples into thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick. Either group the apples together (about 1/3 of an apple) and gently press into the cake batter. This results in a slightly firmer apples. Or, for a softer consistency, fan the slices around the cake in a single layer.Sprinkle 1/3 cup of sugar and the cinnamon in an even layer over the kuchen.
- Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, until it the top is golden in color. Serve warm. If desired, lightly dust with confectioners sugar before serving.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.