German Apfelkuchen (German Apple Custard Cake Recipe)

This authentic German Apfelkuchen (apple cake) recipe features a moist custard cake topped with tender fresh baked apples. Using simple pantry ingredients, this cake is easy to whip up for a spontaneous afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen!

I’ve got another delicious German dessert recipe for you! A reader emailed me recently looking for a recipe for a German cake with peaches and custard. I knew exactly what she was looking for, and had actually been thinking about making a German Peach Kuchen.

I’ve eaten that delicious cake many times in Germany, and was looking forward to making it…but I didn’t have any fresh, canned or frozen peaches on hand. Womp womp, sad face.

I did, however, have an abundance of apples. So I decided to make Apfelkuchen. This German Apple Custard Cake is so good. It uses pantry staples and is super easy to make. I actually made 2 variations of this cake – keep reading to see each one!

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About German Kuchen (German Cake)

If you’ve made my other German cakes – Bee Sting Cake, German Plum Cake or a German Cheesecake, for example – you already know that German cakes are different than US American cakes.

That took me a little while to get used to when I first lived in Germany. I was so used fluffy layer cakes covered in sugary buttercream that the non-frosted, much less sweet, and often denser German cake varieties seemed far less satisfying…at first!

It only took a few weeks of sampling all different kinds of Kuchen (Kuchen = cake in German) during multiple rounds of afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) to plant myself firmly on the side of less sweet German desserts.

I still enjoy a fluffy layer cake with buttercream (like this apple spice cake with mascarpone Swiss meringue icing that I made for my birthday last fall) but for afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen? German cake for sure!

There are so many different kinds of traditional German cakes…sometimes I think about making them all but that would take years. Hmmm…what do you think, should I do it? Ha!

About German Apfelkuchen (German Apple Custard Cake)

There are lots of different kinds of Apfelkuchen. Some feature a simple cake base with apple slices top. Others add a steusel topping. I find some apple cakes on the dry side, which is that’s why I love this recipe. The custard layer on top combined with the apple slices makes this cake delightfully moist, not to mention tasty.

German Apple Cake 2 Ways

I’ve made this cake a few different ways, depending on my mood and the ingredients I have on hand. Sometimes I simply peel and slice two medium-sized apples and place them on top of the cake. Other times I double the amount of apples. I also sometimes sprinkle sliced almonds and dried currants over the apples.

You could add pecans instead of sliced almonds or dried cranberries or raisins instead of the currants. Those additions aren’t really traditional but I like to change things up once in a while. You really can’t go wrong!

You could also swap out the apples for peaches or berries. I got both peaches and berries in my last grocery order so I plan to try both in the near future!

What You Need to Make this German Apple Cake Recipe:

Kitchen tools:

  • Mixing bowl 
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups or scale
  • Measuring spoons
  • Knife & cutting board
  • Springform pan (9 inch)

Ingredients:

  • flour 
  • sugar
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • nutmeg
  • butter
  • milk
  • eggs
  • apples (or peaches, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • heavy cream 
  • vanilla extract (or vanilla sugar) 
  • cinnamon
  • sliced almonds (optional)
  • dried currants (optional)

How to Make German Apple Custard Cake 

First, preheat your oven to 400F/200C.

Then make the cake base. To do this you’ll need a large mixing bowl (I love this set – I use them every day in my cooking and baking). Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients together.

Then cut the cold butter into small pieces, add it to the flour, and use your fingers to work it into the flour to fine crumbs.

In a small bowl whisk the milk and egg together. I use the small bowl from my favorite glass bowl set.

Then add the milk to the flour and mix with a spoon or a fork until just combined. The dough will be wet and sticky.

Spoon the dough into a greased springform pan and use your fingers or a spoon to spread evenly in the pan. I use a little butter to grease my springform pan.

Peel, core, and slice the apples, then place the apples on the dough. You can arrange them in a nice pattern or just place them evenly on the dough (which is what I did). Then bake for 20 minutes.

The next step is to prepare the custard. To do this, whisk 1/4 of the heavy cream with 2 Tbsp flour.

Then add the rest of the heavy cream, the egg, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk until well combined.

When the cake base has finished baking, take it out of the oven and pour the custard over the top. This is the time to sprinkle the sliced almonds and dried currants over the top of the cake, if using.

Turn the oven oven down to 350F/175C and bake the cake for another 30-35 minutes or until the top and edges of the cake are golden brown. The top of the cake should spring back when you touch it. Don’t over bake it! If you do, you’ll lose that delicious soft custard layer.

Let the cake cool on a wire rack. I like to run a knife around the edge of the cake before removing the side of the springform pan.

This cake is easiest to slice after it has cooled for 10-15 minutes. It tastes delicious all by itself (especially while still warm), with fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This apple cake is best eaten on the day of baking but it will last another day or two if you wrap it well in plastic wrap.

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German Apfelkuchen (German Apple Custard Cake)

German Apfelkuchen (German Apple Custard Cake)

Yield: 8-10 slices
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups [180g] all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup [150g] sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup [55g] cold butter (in small pieces)
  • 1/2 cup [113 ml] milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2-4 apples
  • 1/4 cup [30g] sliced almonds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup [30g] dried currants (optional)

Custard

  • 1 cup [225 ml] heavy cream
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1/2 cup [100g] sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 400 F/204C.

    2 . Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg to a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients until well combined.

    3. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and work into flour with your fingers until it reaches a crumb texture.

    4. Whisk the milk and egg in a small bowl. Pour over flour and mix with until batter just comes together (it will be thick and sticky).

    5. Spoon cake batter into a prepared 9-inch springform pan (I use butter to grease my pan). Use a spoon or your fingers to spread the batter evenly in the pan.

    6. Peel, core, and slice apples. Spread apples evenly over the cake batter. 

    7. Bake for 20 minutes.

    8. While the cake is baking, make the custard by whisking 1/4th of the heavy cream and the flour in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Add the rest of the cream, sugar, egg, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk again until well combined.

    9. When the cake has finished baking, take it out of the oven and pour the custard over the top. If using sliced almonds and dried currants, sprinkle them over the top of the cake now.

    10. Reduce the oven to 350F/176C. Place cake back in the oven and bake 30-35 minutes or until cake is golden brown and the top springs back when you touch it. Be careful not to over-bake it.

    11. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes in the cake pan. Then carefully release the springform pan and let cake cool completely on a wire rack.

    12. Slice cake and serve plain or with fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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About Author

I love baking, traveling, and sharing delicious recipes for European Christmas Cookies! I used to live in Germany, have worked on 4 continents, and now enjoy baking and blogging from my adopted home in North Carolina, USA.

2 Comments

  • Chris Merrick
    October 6, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Oh my goodness I haven’t had this since I lived at home with my parents, my mum died at 58 and didn’t have time to pass on the recipes of her birth country, Austria so to find your blog has been an inspiration to me thank you and the cake was devoured by myself, ny husband and our good friends 💓😊

    Reply

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