German Apple Cake

This german apple cake recipe sandwiches fresh apples between a dense cakey crust and a gooey custard topping. Best served with warm with some whipped cream on the side and a cup of coffee.

Apple Season!

It’s almost the end of September, which means it’s apple season. Apple season is quickly followed by decorative gourd season (motherfuckers), as described in our favorite McSweeny’s essay. This means that we’re running out of time to share some of our favorite apple desserts. Heaven forbid!

About This German Apple Cake Recipe

Today, we’re making a German apple cake recipe (apfelkuchen for the uninitiated). We love a traditional German dessert, and the German approach to apple cake is no exception. This delicious cake has three layers – a vanilla cake bottom, thin slices of apples, and (the best part) a yummy baked custard. It sounds complicated, but it’s really all about layering some simple ingredients and letting them hang out in the oven. This can be made in an 8 x 8 square pan and cut into bars, as we did, or in an 8-inch springform round pan.

Recipe Facts

  • Yield: 9-12 servings
  • Active Time: 25 minutes
  • Bake Time: 1 hour

Ingredients for the German Apple Cake:

Cake Base

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2-4 apples (We used half pink lady and half granny smith, but feel free to use any apples you have lying around your refrigerator. This is not a place to be an apple snob and use your “best apples.” Everything tastes delicious after a custard bath.)

For the Custard

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions for the German Apple Cake:

Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8 x 8 inch square pan or an 8-inch round springform pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
  3. Next, cut the butter into small pieces and use a pastry cutter or your fingers to work it into the flour mixture until fine crumbs form.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the milk and egg together.
  5. Then, add the milk to the flour and stir gently until just combined. The dough will be wet and sticky.
  6. Pour batter into the bottom of the pan and use your fingers or a rubber spatula to spread the cake batter evenly.
  7. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Array the apple slices on top of the batter.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.

Add the Custard:

  1. While the cake bakes, prepare the custard by whisking together 1/4 of the heavy cream with the flour.
  2. Then, add in the rest of the heavy cream, the egg, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk until well combined. Pour over the cake.
  3. Turn the oven down to 350 F and bake the cake for another 30 minutes. The top and edges will be golden brown, and the custard will be just set. Don’t overbake, or you will lose the deliciously gooey custard texture.


  1. Let the cake cool on a wire rack. It’s easiest to cut the cake after it has been chilled in the refrigerator for about an hour, but it tastes best warm mit schlag (i.e. with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top of the cake) and a cup of coffee. We won’t judge if you elect for better taste and messier slices. The cake is best on the day it was made but will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.