Oma's Apfelkuchen (Grandma's Apple Cake) Recipe photo by Taste of Home

German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Bake: 45 min. + cooling
Embrace nostalgic flavors and homey feelings with German apple cake—an old-fashioned dessert that's so delicious, we keep making it today.

Updated: Dec. 29, 2023

When the weather cools down, it seems we all crave rich, nostalgic desserts. We set aside the stone fruit and berries and pop open a can of pumpkin, break out a jar of cinnamon and start peeling apples. Some of us might even dive into Grandma’s cookbook to find a few extra cozy recipes. One of our Test Kitchen’s favorite recipes from Grandma is German apple cake, or apfelkuchen.

This cake is dense, rich and full of those homey flavors that we all crave. So head to your favorite orchard, pick some apples and get baking. We’ll show you how to make this German apple cake.

How to Make German Apple Cake

Taste of Home

This old-world cake comes to us from Amy Kirchen of Ohio, who told us that her husband’s family has been making this cake for more than 150 years. We love a recipe that can stand the test of time. We also love that this cake uses pantry staples you already have.


Step 1: Prep the apples

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For this cake, you’ll want to opt for a nice, firm apple that will hold up while baking. Granny Smiths are a great option here (also one of the best apples for apple pie), as are Honeycrisp or Cortlands.

To prepare your apples, start by peeling and coring them (this is the best apple peeler, according to our Test Kitchen). Then slice the apples in half. Next, fan the apples by slicing into each half. Don’t slice all the way through the apples; leave about a half-inch unsliced so the fan shape holds together. Set the apples aside while you prep the batter.

Step 2: Cream butter, sugar and eggs

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Add the butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl and cream until the mixture is light and fluffy. This will take some time—about five to seven minutes. After creaming, add the room-temperature egg yolks one at a time. Make sure you fully incorporate each yolk before adding the next. Adding only yolks to the batter makes this cake extra rich.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t toss those whites! Use them to make an omelet, meringues or one of these egg white recipes.

Step 3: Add dry mix to the batter

Grab your sifter and sift together the flour, corn starch, cream of tartar, baking powder and salt. Once you’re done sifting, sift again. That’s right—the dry ingredients get sifted twice in this recipe. Sifting might seem like a pain, but don’t skip it here. It’ll help give the cake the right chewy texture.

Slowly add the dry mixture into the creamed butter, sugar and eggs. Beat until just combined, then add the milk.

This German apple cake batter is thick! Don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t resemble a typical cake batter. You want the batter to be thick, rich and buttery.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have a flour sifter, a mesh sieve works just fine.

Step 4: Prep the pan and add cake batter

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With the batter and apples ready, it’s time to prepare your cake pan. Grab your favorite 9-inch springform pan and wrap the exterior with a sheet of foil. (Even leakproof pans aren’t foolproof!) Then spritz the interior of the pan with cooking spray. Even if the pan is nonstick, it’s a good idea to grease it to make removing the cake even easier.

Spread the cake batter into the pan in as even a layer as possible. Because the batter is thick, it may take a little finessing, but you’ll get it.

Step 5: Add the apples and bake

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All that’s left to do now is add the fanned apples. Press them slightly into the batter (not too far—a quarter-inch will do). Then pop into a 350ºF oven for 45 to 55 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes away clean (a few crumbs are fine).

Editor’s Tips: If your apples split apart when you fan them, don’t worry. Just press them into the batter anyway. The cake batter will bake up around the apples and you won’t be able to tell.

If you find that after 55 minutes the toothpick is still coming out covered in uncooked batter, don’t fret. Just keep the cake in the oven and retest every five minutes until the cake is done. You can tent the pan with foil to prevent excess browning. Because moisture levels vary in apples, cook times can vary for this recipe. It’s OK if the cake takes a bit longer.

Step 6: Cool the cake

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When the cake is baked through, remove it from the oven and cool on a wire rack. After 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the cake pan and remove the springform collar. Let the cake cool another hour before slicing.

For a finishing touch, dust on confectioners’ sugar to make everything look more delicious and polished. Slice with a sharp knife and serve!

How to Store German Apple Cake

If you manage to have any leftovers, pop them into an airtight container or stash under a cake dome and eat within a few days.

Because this cake isn’t overly sweet, we recommend having a slice for breakfast the next day. Here are some more of our favorite dessert for breakfast recipes.

Watch how to Make Oma’s Apfelkuchen (Grandma’s Apple Cake)

Oma's Apfelkuchen (Grandma's Apple Cake)

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 45 min
Yield 10 servings.


  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 small to medium tart apples, peeled, cored and halved
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • Confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Let egg yolks stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Starting 1/2 in. from 1 end, cut apple halves lengthwise into 1/4-in. slices, leaving them attached at the top so they fan out slightly.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, sift flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking powder and salt twice. Gradually beat into creamed mixture. Add milk; mix well (batter will be thick).
  3. Spread batter into a greased 9-in. springform pan wrapped in heavy-duty foil. Gently press apples, round side up, into batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, 45-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Loosen side from pan with a knife; remove foil. Cool 1 hour longer. Remove rim from pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 422 calories, 23g fat (14g saturated fat), 148mg cholesterol, 177mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate (28g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.

My husband’s German family calls this Oma’s apfelkuchen, which translates to "Grandma’s apple cake." They’ve been sharing the recipe for more than 150 years. I use Granny Smith apples, but any variety works. —Amy Kirchen, Loveland, Ohio