This EASY German apple cake is tart and sweet, muffin-like on the bottom and crunchy on top, thanks to the almond-cinnamon streusel topping. Apfelkuchen (that's apple cake in German) was my Oma Sieghilde's specialty and I know you'll love this simple and fool-proof recipe I've been making for years!
Tips for Making German Apple Cake
I've been on a quest for the perfect, authentic German Apple Cake recipe for quite some time now. It took me several years to perfect this recipe, and THIS IS IT! My biggest tip? Pick up fresh apples from the orchard or your local farmers' market! I grabbed these apples at Overland Park Farmers Market and the cake could not be more delicious! They're much more flavorful and make for the best cake!
Of course, there are many ways you could make an Apfelkuchen or German apple cake. But more often than not it's baked on a baking sheet as a sheet cake using a fluffy muffin-like crust, topped with tons of fresh apple slices and a crumbly streusel topping! And there you have an easy, made-from-scratch apple cake.
Another tip? Serve it with cloud-like spoonfuls of barely sweetened, fresh vanilla whipped cream. This cake is super quick and ready in just one hour (including the baking time), which comes in handy when that craving for an apple dessert hits!
What Apples to Use For Apple Cake?
I have used many different apples for this German apple cake recipe. I like Granny Smiths for tartness, but sometimes feel like a little sweeter treat and go for Johnathan or Gala. German cakes in general aren't as sweet as American cakes, so if you know you would like more sweetness without adding more sugar, you could easily use a sweeter apple in this recipe.
Other apple varieties that are great for baking are Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, and Pink Lady. I picked up local apples from our farmers market in Overland Park, Kansas. I love that you can even go to the Sunflower Orchards directly to pick your own apples, and all you need to pay for are the apples.
Another tip is to not peel the apples for this recipe. I think it's totally unnecessary and besides, I love the look that the skin of the apples gives this cake! Besides, unpeeled apples contain 50 percent more phytonutrients and are packed with healthy antioxidants that help prevent cancer.
Achieve the best cake results by using quality ingredients. Here they are:
- Butter. I use salted butter in all of my baking recipes, despite what some people say. Adding a little salt helps bring out the flavors. You'll need butter for the cake and the streusel topping.
- Sugar. You'll need sugar for both the cake and the streusel.
- Eggs. 4 whole eggs go into the cake batter.
- Salt. Like I said, I like a little salt in my cake. You can leave this out if using salted butter, but I still add just a little more.
- Lemon. I use the zest to go into the cake batter and the juice to marinate the apples with and to keep them from turning brown.
- Flour. All-purpose flour works just fine in this cake. You'll also use it for the streusel topping.
- Baking Powder. Otherwise the cake won't rise.
- Milk. I use 2 percent cow's milk, but milk alternatives will work fine as well.
- Apples. See note on which apples work best for apple cake. I used Johnathan and Gala apples this time that I got from the Sunflower Orchards stand at Overland Park Farmers Market, but please use your favorite apple. Any will work.
- Almonds. I use sliced almonds in my streusel topping. A little toasted nut flavor without adding really any more effort.
- Cinnamon. This is my must-have ingredient for the streusel topping. So warming and good and your house will smell like a candle store in the fall.
The following are some amazing tools to have on hand when making this German apple cake recipe.
- Stainless Steel Bowls. I love these because they have a silicone bottom, which keeps them from sliding all over the counter (it's safer, too). Plus they're heavy weight and German-designed.
- Paring and Peeling Knife. I love this paring knife with a curved blade for removing the core and slicing the apples. I choose not to peel my apples.
- Citrus Press. Makes it a lot easier to squeeze the juice out of that lemon, which you'll toss your cut apples with to keep them from turning brown.
- Cake Storer. Store it at room temp for a couple of days or in your fridge for up to 6 days.
- Zester. You'll need it for that lemon zest, which goes into the cake batter.
- Cordless Electric Mixer. I love not feeling restricted by a cord when mixing up my recipes.
Watch this 42 second video, showing you just how easy it is to make this German apple cake. And kids love it too!
Does It Need To Be Refrigerated?
You do not need to refrigerate this German apple cake and it will keep fine covered up with plastic wrap at room temperature (or in a cake storage container like this one). However, if you don't plan to eat within 2 to 3 days after baking it, you could refrigerate it for up to 6 days. If you refrigerate Apfelkuchen, I recommend reheating in a microwave for a few seconds to bring back the fluffy texture (and who doesn't love to recreate that fresh-out-the-oven warm apple cake?).
Can Apple Kuchen Be Frozen?
German apple Kuchen also freezes well, so in case you don't want to share your leftover cake with anyone (I hear ya!!), simply slice the cake after baking, store it in your freezer in freezer-safe containers or freezer-safe bags. That way you're always prepared to have a little something sweet to go along with your afternoon coffee. Simply pull a few slices out when you haven't had time to bake and allow to thaw at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then warm in the microwave for a few seconds to bring back the fluffy cake texture. So lecker!
More German Apple Recipes
If you're picking apples right now like we are, then these German apple recipes will be handy! Bratäpfel are German baked apples with marzipan and so warming and delicious. Feel like apple pie? Then try this German version of an apple pie! Last but not least, this glazed applesauce cake is moist, wonderful and SUPER easy to make. Have fun baking!
Easy German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)
German Apple Cake Batter
- 250 grams butter
- 250 grams sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 lemon zest for the batter and juice for the apple slices
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 400 grams all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ cup milk
- 5 apples I am a lover of all things tart! I love using Granny Smith because of how well they balance the sweetness from the streusel. You could use any apple you like in this cake! Gala is a great option for an apple that's a bit sweeter.
- 60 grams all-purpose flour
- 40 grams butter cold and cut into pieces
- 30 grams sugar
- 30 grams sliced almonds My secret weapon to amazing streusel! They give a little extra crunch and a subtle nutty flavor.
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon OMG! Don't skip adding cinnamon! This is the perfect finishing touch for these streusel and they will make your house smell buttery-cinnamony-amazing!
- Preheat oven to 340° Fahrenheit (170° Celsius).
- Prep a 17 by 11 inch (about 43 cm by 28 cm) baking pan with parchment paper on the bottom. Butter the sides. OR butter the bottom and sides, then dust in all purpose flour (I ran out of parchment paper last time and this worked great!).
- For the Apfelkuchen batter, mix butter and sugar until creamy (about 5 minutes). Gradually add in the eggs, lemon zest (reserving the juice for the apples) and salt. Sift together flour and baking powder and mix in with the batter. Add in the milk to achieve a smooth consistency. Spread evenly onto the prepped baking sheet.250 grams butter, 250 grams sugar, 4 eggs, 1 lemon, ½ teaspoon salt, 400 grams all-purpose flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ cup milk
- For the German apple cake topping, prep your apples by washing, cutting them in quarters and removing the core. I don't peel mine, but you can feel free to peel yours if you'd like. Cut your apples into ½ inch thick slices (about 1 cm thick). Toss them in the juice of your zested lemon to keep them from turning brown. Arrange in rows by slicking them into the batter.5 apples
- For the streusel, first start by beating together flour, almonds, butter, sugar and cinnamon with an electric mixer. Then briefly work the dough with your hands, forming your streusel. Keep in a cool place until ready to use.60 grams all-purpose flour, 40 grams butter, 30 grams sugar, 30 grams sliced almonds, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Evenly distribute the streusel topping over the apples. If you would like to keep your neat rows of apples more visible, you can stick with only adding the streusel topping between my rows of apple slices. That's what I did and it looks so lovely!
- Bake for 32 minutes on the middle rack, then test to see if the cake is done. If you have an instant-read thermometer (this one's my favorite!), test the internal temperature. Around 210° F or 99° C is perfect! Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving with some freshly whipped cream (I add a little vanilla extract and powdered sugar to mine). Guten Appetit!