German Apple "Cake"

The cake for pie lovers.

German Apple "Cake"

This is really more of a pie with a larger, fluffier crust than a cake (hence the quotation marks). I first encountered a version of this recipe on Culinate where I was immediately smitten by the idea of a pie-ish cake, typically preferring the former to the latter myself. I made a few additions and baked it in a cast iron pan to bring it to what it is today. Its refined rustic-ness makes it comforting as a dessert and delightful as an afternoon snack with cheese and tea or coffee. Or a beer, really - try it! Serves 6 and can easily be doubled to serve 12.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon plus one pinch salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or yogurt, divided (optional)
  • 3-4 medium apples
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Up to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice (or other warm spices such as cardamom, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon
  • Dash of apple brandy (optional)
  • Ice cream (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, baking powder, and butter. Work this mixture with a pastry blender or fork until it resembles coarse cornmeal.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg and vanilla. Mix the eggs and vanilla slightly with a fork, then gradually whisk in the flour mixture. Work and knead until the mixture forms a coherent mass and is moist but not sticky. If sticky, add a little more flour and knead it in. If too dry, incorporate crème fraîche, yogurt (milk or water also works) one tablespoon at a time (up to 2 tablespoons) until dough is moist.

Cut the dough in half and roll each half into a ball. Flatten the halves a bit, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to chill for 30-45 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch cast iron pan. Core and slice the apples (they can be peeled, I like to keep the peels on), then toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice, brown sugar (more or less, depending on apples and preference), allspice, pinch of salt, and optional dash of apple brandy.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator about 5 minutes prior to rolling. Sprinkle one dough ball with flour, flip, sprinkle with more flour, and roll out on plastic wrap until is will fit snugly into the bottom of the cast iron pan. The dough can be a bit sticky, so add a little extra flour as needed. Lifting the plastic wrap, invert it into the cast iron pan. 

Pile the apple mixture on the dough and rearrange apples to minimize large pockets of air. Roll out the remaining dough as you did before, but a little larger than first (so it can fit over top of apples) and place it over the apples by inverting the plastic wrap as you did the previous time. If the dough breaks, don't worry - just press it back together.

Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and your house smells marvelous. 

Serve warm, with crème fraîche or ice cream and mint garnish if desired. Also great in the afternoon with cheese.

This German apple cake pairs wonderfully with cold apple brandy/calvados.