Apfelkuchen. Or Apple Cake. Or Bavarian Apple Cake. OR “Happy Apple Cake” as I’m calling it. A recipe from my grandmother. Like many Bavarian/German/Austrian recipes they came from our Grandmothers or “Omas”, right?
This Bavarian apple cake was a common treat when I visited my grandparents as a kid, so was homemade apple strudel, spätzle and all kinds of yummy German/Austrian/Bavarian things to eat since they were Austrian.
My grandmother was an excellent baker and made everything from scratch. She even made her own phyllo dough for the strudel. That is a LOT of work, something I hope to try one day.
I first made these into two smaller loaves than a traditional round apple cake. I thought making them more like a quick bread than a cake would be a fun twist to this recipe. These were a bit of a challenge to make, but so worth it. This is a lightly sweetened yeast raised cake, and the apples bake just enough
I had to scrape the topping off the tops of the apples so you could see them, since that is part of the decor of the cake, and I think it looks really neat. I cut into the cake for a cute “slice” pic and couldn’t stop laughing at what I found. My husband was cracking up too.
The cake is SMILING at us. I so didn’t plan this. When I put down the first layer of apples in the cake, I didn’t realize how much the cake was going to rise, this was my first time with a yeast cake, and I didn’t layer in enough apples. I was working quickly since we were making dinner at the same time and I had a cramped work space, hungry kids, hungry mom ( that would be me) etc so I was kind of rushing.
So when we cut into the cake and realized the first apple layer was closer to the top than expected I was dying laughing that it made it look like the cake had a face. I snapped pics quickly since I knew I wanted to have these in the post. I made the cake a few more times to test the recipe. Perfect ever time.
A closer look. Maybe Apfelkuchen really means ” happy apple cake”. Maybe its my grandmother smiling at me through the cake for making one of her recipes. I lost her when I was 16, so I hope I made her proud.
We cut another piece to show what the apples in the top looked like, and also because I told my husband there was no way I could eat the piece that was smiling at us. He said he had no problem eating it.
Vanilla ice cream always goes good with anything apple. So says my husband.
- For the Cake Batter:
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour (281 g)
- ½ cup sugar (100 g)
- 1 packet of rapid rise yeast, or active dry yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup milk (178ml)
- 1/3 cup butter, softened (76g)
- 1 large egg, room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (5 ml)
- 2 cups baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
- 1 tsp lemon juice (5 ml)
- 1 tbsp sugar(14g)
- 4-8 small baking apples such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady, peeled, cored, halved, and tops sliced thin but not all the way through (8 if using a larger pan)
- ½ cup sugar (100g)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (.68 g)
- 2 tbsp cold butter(30g), cut into small pieces
- Grease either 2 8X4 loaf pans or a 9X13 pan with butter.
- Combine the thin apple slices with the lemon juice and sugar,stirring to coat well and set aside.
- Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork until crumbly.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer combine half of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt and mix to combine.
- Heat the butter and milk together until the butter is melted and the temperature is 120 deg f. Slowly add this to the flour mixture. Beat on medium until combined, about 2 minutes.
- Add in the egg, vanilla and mix well again and then add the rest of the flour and mix on low until a stiff batter forms.
- Spread a little less than half the mixture on the bottom of the prepared pans, it is pretty stiff and stretchy so work slowly to not over work the batter. Place the apple slices over the batter and cover with the remaining batter. Gently press the apple halves into the top of the batter, arranging in any pattern desired. Sprinkle the topping over the batter avoiding the tops of the sliced apples. Cover pan with a towel and let rest in a warm, draft free area until batter has doubled in size, at least an hour
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F
- Uncover the pan or pans and bake for 20-30 minutes or until done. Let cool in pans on a wire rack. If made in loaf pans carefully remove from pans and set on a plate to cool. Can be served room temperature or warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Use firm sweet-tart baking apples such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady or Fuji.
Traditional German or Bavarian baking uses Vanillezucker or vanilla sugar. It may be hard to find the packets of it here in the states, perhaps at specialty bake shops or places like Cost Plus World Market. I substituted it for a little more sugar and the vanilla extract.
This was traditionally made in a bowl and mixed with a spoon. I saved your arm by using a stand mixer. Electricity is a good thing. But it still can be mixed the traditional way.