Authentic German Apple Cake Recipe- Versunkener Apfelkuchen

I would argue that the most baked cake in Germany is an Apple Cake. You find them in every Cafe, there is one at any Kaffee Klatsch with more than two cakes, and it’s the cake many German home-bakers learn first. In the same way that there is a Potato Salad recipe for every region (and for every Oma) in Germany, there are a hundreds of different recipes for Apfel Kuchen. Some people (me) love Streusel…. some (my mother) like it with Raisins or nuts. There is Apple Cake covered up (Gedeckter Apfelkuchen) and Apple Cake with a glaze. So what is the Traditional German Apple Cake Recipe? The Versunkener Apfelkuchen (Sunken Apple Cake) is a strong contender (I’m not giving an absolute here… when I use words like “best”, “ultimate” and “only” I get WAY too many emails pointing out the error of my ways). This Authentic German Apple Cake Recipe is easy to make, and looks “rafiniert” (refined) enough for a Sunday Coffee… AND (most importantly) it’s the one my Oma made.

I hope you like it too.

german apple cake

Traditional German Apple Cake Recipe

Every German Recipe I have ever seen calls for too many apples. For a long time, I thought I had the wrong baking pan (or my ability to Tetris the apples into place was broken). Turns out, it’s the SIZE of the apples. Here in California the stores sell apples that are generally HUGE compared to German ones. But what it comes down to is this… have an extra apple on hand… but don’t peel and slice it until you know you need it. If you have small apples, GREAT… you can spread them around and the cake is prettier.

traditional german apple cake recipe

I like topping this cake with a simple dusting of powdered sugar, but a sprinkling of sliced Almonds is nice too. (And looks like you made an extra effort). Serve as it with a Schlag of Sahne (big heaping spoonful of whipped cream).

traditional german apple cake

Traditional German Apple Cake Recipe

An Apple Cake turns up often in German households. This Sunken Apple Cake is easy, but looks "fancy". 
Serve with Whipped Cream.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Celebrating German Culture in America
Cuisine German
Servings 12 slices


  • 3-4 Apples
  • 1 small Lemon you will want the juice and the Zest
  • 10 Tbl Butter approx 125 gr
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar approx 150 gr
  • 1 generous tsp Vanilla extract (1 packet Vanilla Zucker)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 cup Flour approx 200 gr
  • 2 Tbl Milk
  • Powdered Sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grease a Springform Pan (Oma's rubbed the inside of the butter wrapper on the pan)

For the Apples:

  • Wash and Peel the Apples
  • Slice in 1/2 Vertically (from stem to bottom)
  • Then cut them vertically in quarters.
  • Remove the core and seeds
  • CAREFULLY... score the apple on the curved side. (Don't panic if you slice though, it happens)
  • Put all prepared apples in a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice.

Cake Batter:

  • In a mixer, combine the butter, sugar and Lemon Zest. Let beat until light and fluffy (5 minutes... keep checking on it, scrape the sides and bottom occasionally)
  • Add Vanilla
  • Add the Eggs, one at a time, beating between each one.
  • Combine the Flour and Baking Powder, and add it slowly to the batter alternating with the milk. Beat to combine.
  • Scrape down the bowl one more time (including under the beater), and make sure everything is combined.
  • Spread the batter in the Springform Pan
  • Lay the Apple quarters on top of the batter- maybe one in the center, the others in a circle around it.
  • (You can try wedging more apples in around and in the empty spaces, but it might look messy...)
  • Bake 40 -45 min at 350
  • Let sit on a cooling rack until completely cool
  • Sprinkle with Powdered Sugar just before serving.
  • (tip- If you sprinkle the powdered sugar early, it may vanish or dissolve into the cake... no problem, you can sprinkle on more)


Apples vary in size... If they are small, you need more. If you don't want to fret about how the cake looks, you can squeeze in more. 

Like this Recipe? Find more great recipes in my Easy German Cookbook!

Filled with 80 Classic German recipes, written for the American Kitchen!

Easy German Cookbook: 80 Classic Recipes Made SimpleEasy German Cookbook: 80 Classic Recipes Made SimpleEasy German Cookbook: 80 Classic Recipes Made Simple

Do you Eat Warm Cake?

One of the most confusing rules that my Oma SWORE by is… You do NOT eat cake while it is still warm.
That’s when it’s the best…
I can see how it’s a problem if you are frosting the cake, but warm apple cake is divine. (Of course, the powder sugar vanishes, and the whipped cream melts all soggy).
Anyone else have this rule?
(I think she just wanted to keep my fingers off her cake…)

Step By Step Instructions for Traditional German Apple Cake

Peel, core and slice the apples

german apple cake

Sprinkle them with Lemon Juice to keep them from going brown

german apple cake

Spread the batter in a prepared Springform pan

german apple cake

Arrange the Apples on the batter
german apple cake

Bake 40 minutes… check… you want golden

german apple cake

Let cool on a rack

traditional german apple cake

When cooled completely, sprinkle with powdered sugar

german apple cake

Slice and Serve

german apple cake


traditional german apple cake recipe

13 thoughts on “Authentic German Apple Cake Recipe- Versunkener Apfelkuchen

  1. Your comments re: stereotypical German are right on target! Good for you to take a stand: totally agree with you.

  2. I do not have a springform pan…what else can I do?

    1. Line the bottom of your regular pan with parchment paper. Bake as usual. When it’s time to remove the cake from the pan, run a knife around the edge to make sure it’s loose.
      Have your serving plate or a rack ready.
      Put a flat plate over the top of the cake (maybe with some parchment or waxed paper on the cake first to keep it from sticking) Flip the cake upside down onto that plate, then immediately place your serving plate on top, and flip it over.
      Does that makes sense?
      Cake upside down to get it out, then flip it right side up on the plate.
      Make sure the plates you flip onto are against the cake so it doesn’t fall and crack. (Cover any flaws with some powdered sugar…)

  3. If I choose to add sliced almonds on top of the apples should I do so before baking? I would be afraid they would get burned. Perhaps you have a suggestion?

    1. They should be fine. Check during baking, If you see them getting dark, cover the top of the cake with foil.

  4. Try using 2 or 3 different apples, cut 1/2s into thirds, alternate, but first lay in a spaced placing of Seedless Sultana Raisins, spacing is experimental. Try glazing periodically with apple juice from Macintosh apples until baked, starting when 1/2 baked. Soak the raisins first. An alternate is add fine ground nuts of your choice to the dough!

  5. I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on apples prior to baking! Vielen Dank!

  6. I believe the metric weight for the flour is incorrect at 300 grams for 1 1/2 cups of flour. I caught the error just in time as I always use metric measurements whenever they’re provided in a recipe.

    1. Thank you! Typo… it should be 200 gram. I will fix that!

  7. 5 stars
    excellent – thank you. I made one for my German Conversation group, and another for our twin-town society meeting (we are twinned with Schwaebisch-Gmuend in Bavaria). I got lots of nice comments.

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