Have you ever read a book where the characters were eating something or talking about eating something, and you wish you too could taste what they were eating? Recently I started reading a book set in a small German village in the 1800’s in which three sisters had recently lost their father, and the only thing that made them feel a bit better was eating an apple cake that a neighbor had dropped by. After searching through many German apple cake recipes online, I settled on one that I imagined would have appeared in the book. Although I have my doubts about whether the apple cake recipe I found is a) German and b) historically accurate, I’d like to imagine that it’s delicious enough to raise anyone’s spirits. It’s easy to make (no mixer needed), and you only need one apple. And it’s comfort food at it’s best with spicy cinnamon, layers of tender apples, and a moist cake.
German Apple Cake
(From The Little Epicurean)
Makes one 8-inch square pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Apple Pie spice (I like the version from Penzey’s which consists of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and cloves. Or you can substitute 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut parchment paper so that it’s about 2 inches larger than the pan. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend over the edges. Lightly the parchment paper with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.
- Add eggs and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until combined.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
- Transfer the batter to prepared cake pan. Use the back of a spoon or a mini offset spatula to evenly distribute the batter in 8-inch square pan. Set aside while making the apple topping.
- In a small bowl whisk together sugar and cinnamon.
- Add sliced apples. Toss to coat in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Assemble Cake and Topping
- Arrange apple slices on top of batter in the pan in desired configuration. I like to overlap the apple slices, making sure to cover all of the batter.
- Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
- Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Unmold by lifting excess parchment paper overhang. Allow to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.