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  • Writer's pictureBarth Bakery

German Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

This classic fancy-looking cake is quick and easy to make and results in a flavorful, moist, and buttery cake with whole sliced apples on top. Versunkener Apfelkuchen translates to "sunken apple cake” because hasselback-style apples are placed on top of a simple batter, which rises and encases the apples during baking resulting in tender apples peeking out of the golden-brown cake. Make this cake one day in advance as it will become more flavorful and moister as the apples infuse the cake overnight. This authentic German dessert is often served in the afternoon with coffee or tea and is traditionally served with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. However, this gorgeous cake also makes a festive dessert for the holidays or the perfect ending to a fall-themed dinner.

German Apple Cake with Hasselback Apples
German Sunken Apple Cake
German Apple Cake with Apricot Jam Glaze
Authentic German Apple Cake
Easy German Apple Cake - Apfelkuchen
German Apple Cake with Confectioners' Sugar and Sweetened Whipped Cream


German Apple Cake

  • 4 small apples (Honeycrisp, Gala, or Pink Lady)

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

  • 1⅔ cups cake flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • 2 Tbsp sour cream


  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

  • 3 Tbsp apricot jam or preserves, hot

  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Sweetened Whipped Cream

  • ½ cup heavy cream, cold

  • 2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar

  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract


German Apple Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.

  2. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Thinly slice each quarter lengthwise several times without cutting all the way through so the apples stay in one piece (hasselback style). (The apples will open as they bake.)

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

  4. Add the eggs one at a time beating for 30 seconds on high speed after each addition.

  5. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and beat until combined.

  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

  7. With the mixer running on low speed add half of the flour, then the milk, followed by the remaining flour, and then the sour cream. Beat until just combined. Don't overmix!

  8. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Arrange the apple quarters in concentric circles over the entire surface of the batter. Brush the melted butter on top of the apples.

  9. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until the apples and crust are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (the apples will not be completely tender).

  10. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and remove the springform ring. Brush hot apricot jam over the cake and apples right as soon as the cake comes out of the oven. Allow the cake to cool completely.

  11. Dust the cooled cake with confectioners’ sugar and serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Sweetened Whipped Cream

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric handheld mixer to beat the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Barth Bakery (Barth Bäckerei) was started around 1933 by my great-grandfather, Gustav Hermann Barth, who was a Master Baker (Bäeckermeister) in Trebnitz, Niederschlesien, Germany. For that reason, we’ve started a small collection of recipes for classic German sweet treats.

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