Unusual recipes

Buttery German Apple Cake

Buttery German Apple Cake

This gorgeous cake was unanimously crowned the best of the best from this year’s Readers’ Choice Week recipe submissions. We love the simple method to get that professional shingled look without having to layer each individual apple slice. Make sure the butter is truly room temperature, or it will be difficult to bring the dough together. Read more about the family story behind the cake, which was passed down (in memory! Not written down!) through three generations, beginning with one resourceful German grandmother. It’s also known as Versunkener Apfelkuchen, meaning German apple cake.


  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • ¼ cup plain fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. apricot preserves
  • 3 medium, firm apples, such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Unsweetened whipped cream (for serving)

Recipe Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease bottom and sides of springform pan with butter, then coat with breadcrumbs, tapping out excess.

  • Whisk granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup flour in a large bowl. Create a well in the center and add egg, vanilla, and remaining ½ cup butter. Using a fork and working in a circular motion, stir until dough starts to form large clumps. Using lightly floured hands, knead very gently in bowl until dough comes together in one large, soft mass (you may need to add a little bit of flour to dough to keep from sticking to your hands).

  • Still using lightly floured hands, press dough into bottom of springform pan, then press into an even layer with the bottom of a dry measuring cup or mug, sprinkling a little flour over dough if it starts to stick to measuring cup. Spread apricot preserves in a thin layer over surface of dough with a small offset spatula.

  • Peel and quarter apples. Cut core out of each quarter and arrange apples flat side down on cutting board. Make thin parallel crosswise slices in each quarter, taking care not to cut all the way through so apples stay in one shingled piece. Arrange apple quarters in concentric circles over entire surface of dough, trimming to fit if necessary (you may have a few extra pieces).

  • Bake cake, rotating pan halfway through, until apples and crust are golden in color, 55–60 minutes (apples will not be completely tender, but that’s intentional). Let cool 15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Gradually pour in lemon juice, whisking constantly until a thick but pourable glaze forms.

  • Remove sides of springform pan. Lightly brush top and sides of cake with glaze. Let cool completely before transferring to a platter. Serve with whipped cream alongside.

Reviews SectionLove this recipe! Easy and very adaptable. Because of the season I used fresh Rhubarb and Strawberry jam instead, though I think any fresh fruit would work well. Not too sweet.Needed to use the full 60 mins. Make sure to watch the edges, the jam will burn easily.AnonymousPennsylvania06/06/20I'm not sure what happened, but I took it out of the oven after an hour, and it was almost raw in the middle. I baked it for another 30 minutes, until the outer edge started to almost burn, and the middle was still only just set. I don't think I did anything wrong, and I don't think I've ever baked any cake for 90 minutes, let alone one that is an inch tall. But honestly, it was still so delicious that I will be making it again and experimenting with baking temp and time.I made this exactly to recipe and it was freaking delicious. I do think next time I will fan out the apples a bit so they cook more evenly and the cake is easier to serve up without making a mess. But other than that, it's a quick and simple, beautiful cake that tastes amazing. It's sure to impress at a party without stressing you out. Pro-tip I learned on hassle backing - place a chopstick on either side of your apple then slice across. The chops block your knife from going all the way through, allowing you to move a bit quicker.DanniellahT2T 2B811/17/19My apple tree produces an abundance of little green apples that I wouldn't want to eat plain, but they make great juice and pies. My freezer is full of juice now, so I wanted to make a cake. Being gluten free, I had to substitute gluten free bread crumbs and I used Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. I also used Erythritol instead of sugar. This cake turned out great. I will definitely be making this again and again.littleangelOracle, Arizona06/11/19Marvelous - exactly per the recipe, right down to whipped cream on the side. Can't imagine making any kind of adjustment. Needed the full 60 minutes to finish. Wife and I consumed half of it at one sitting - took extreme restraint to save some for today! This will be my new "impress the guests" desert! Making another one for Christmas. Dinner.55 minutes turned out to be too long for my oven, I burnt the cake! However, the cake itself was great. It was a lot denser than expected but the lemon zest and vanilla really shine through ( I added vanilla sugar). Would definitely make this cake again!Anonymous from San Francisco,Have you ever spent any time in Germany? I was born and raised there and came to the US when I was 23. Trust me, my mother was an avid baker and she nor anybody I knew ever used salted butter.Why would you? You can always add salt if you feel the need for it, but no German recipe at the time and before EVER used salted butter! As the other German woman stated.......it wasn't even available. So please cool your ..........and add your salt if you like that. This recipe has extra salt listed, using salted butter too would be too much.Anonymous is wrong Germans use unsalted butter we do use less sugar than AmericansI'm a German immigrant and the first time I had salted butter was in the USAsonja17Dallas,Texas via Frankfurt Germany12/03/18This was super easy to make and it turned out exactly like the picture. It's only me and my husband at home and we were able to finish almost the whole cake in one sitting! I would definitely make this recipe again.AnonymousBaltimore12/01/18Why does this magazine add unsalted butter to every baking recipe? Everything made with unsalted butter tastes over-sweet and disgusting. The traditional German Grandma would never bake a cake with unsalted butter. Stop this nonsense.AnonymousSan Francisco11/30/18Did a trial run on this intriguing find and it does NOT disappoint. Followed recipe almost 100%... fanned honey crisp and lady pink apple slices over entire top of cake and sprinkled some cinnamon before baking. WOW! It likens to an apple tart in taste, but not too tart. Served with vanilla ice cream instead of whipped cream, but either would work. Will be making this to take to Thanksgiving.AnonymousAtlanta, GA11/18/18I made this last night. Hasselbacking the apples took some time, but did look pretty. I left out the bread crumbs, but otherwise followed the recipe. I enjoyed eating it-- fun way to use extra apples.This is a fantastic cake, Goes down a treat. I switch out the bread crumbs for almond meal. I feel like it gives it another level.CheersMartoMarto MartinSydney 08/02/18Fantastic cake! Only change i made was to use orange preserves instead of apricot. 6 of us finished it after dinner. No leftovers for my hubby the next morning. Will make it again next week for another dinner partyAnonymousSan francisco05/23/18This recipe looks delightful, and maybe it would be... with some changes. Perhaps it was me who made a mistake, or am not accustomed to the style of dessert, but this isn't what I consider a cake. It is certainly pleasing to the eye with the apple arrangement, and fun and easy to bake. However, I found the base cake to be hard and a bit crunchy, and the apples to be too much in the way they were dispersed. If I were to make it again, I would fan the apples across the surface of the cake to provide even distribution and add more moisture to the cake itself.loveleighWashington05/06/18"It’s also known as Versunkener Apfelkuchen, meaning German apple cake."That's not at all what that means. Versunkener means exactly what it sounds like, sunken. It's a Sunken Apple Cake.I'm going to make this recipe about every other week until I'm tired of it.....maybe by fall. Delicious with no changes whatsoever.AnonymousLees Summit, MO04/22/18

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