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German Apple Kuchen

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German Apple Kuchen is one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make. Absolutely delicious with fresh sliced apples over a buttery, moist cake. A cinnamon-sugar topping is truly the icing on the cake for this classic European bake.

German Apple Kuchen cake on a wooden board on a white background.

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Apple Kuchen, which is translated as the German word for cake, is a dessert with a bread crust, a custard, and a topping of fruit. In this case, apples – perfect for fall! 

Kuchen is part of a 400-year-old “Kaffee and Kuchen” (or Coffee and Cake) tradition, much like teatime in Great Britain. On Sundays, between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m., many Germans gather with friends and family to enjoy cakes, kuchens, and other confections, over a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Every German should have a secret Kuchen recipe… and here’s mine. While it deviates slightly from the expected (I don’t add the usual custard layer as I find with the apples and the cinnamon sugar topping the cake is sweet and rich enough with a cup of coffee!), it always gets wonderful reviews!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need unsalted butter (European-style if you can get it!), granulated sugar, egg, milk, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon and apples!

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m a bit short on time, do I have to peel the apples?

Readers have told me this recipe still works without peeling the apples, and makes a very pretty looking Kuchen.

Can I double the recipe?

You can definitely double the recipe — but don’t double the baking time. Begin to test the kuchen at about 45 minutes. It won’t be done, but check back in 5-minute increments until it is done. Be careful not to leave the oven door open as it will release too much heat. Instead, take the kuchen out of the oven to test it, and immediately close the oven door.

German Apple Kuchen close up dusted with powdered sugar.

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German Apple Kuchen cake on a wooden board on a white background.

Easy German Apple Kuchen

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

German Apple Kuchen is one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make. Absolutely delicious with fresh sliced apples over a buttery, moist cake. A cinnamon-sugar topping is truly the icing on the cake.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly

Topping

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray an 8-inch cake pan or even a tart pan with non-stick spray.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it becomes light and fluffy. Add the egg, and milk, and beat until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the flour and baking powder; mix until just combined.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Arrange the apples in concentric circles and press them into the batter, letting it come slightly up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle with as much of the cinnamon-sugar mixture topping as desired. You can also, optionally, sprinkle some chopped walnuts over the top. 
  6. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Let cool completely. Drizzle with an Icing Glaze made up of confectioner’s sugar and water if desired.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 173Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 79mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 1gSugar: 24gProtein: 3g

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24 Comments

  1. I think that what you perceive as a “custard” is the powdered sugar that was added before serving. It melted over the moist apples but remained visible over the sugar/cinnamon coating.

  2. I made this küchen just to try a different recipe. My mother/-n-law was of German descent and she taught it to me 50 years ago. Hers tended to be a drier crust than this one, I’m not sure why. My husband loved it. I think it did need the glaze, though. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    1. Hi Mary! I love trying different Kuchen recipes too. I’m so glad you liked this one’

  3. I tried this recipe for an Oktoberfest… and it was a big hit! Thank you! I forgot to peel the apples beforehand, but it didn’t seem to make a difference 🙂

    1. Hi Sarina! I’m so glad you liked it! I actually made it again last night too. I kind of like the idea of not peeling the apples — it would have a lovely outline. I’m going to try that next time. Thanks!!

  4. I’ve already commented with many thanks on this wonderful recipe. It has since become one of my most “asked for” desserts.
    Now I have a question – can this recipe be doubled for a larger cake?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Ossie! I’m so glad you’ve loved this kuchen. It’s one of our favorites too! You can definitely double the recipe — but don’t double the baking time. Begin to test the kuchen at about 45 minutes. It won’t be done, but check back in 5-minute increments until it is done. Be careful not to leave the oven door open as it will release too much heat. Instead, take the kuchen out of the oven to test it, and immediately close the oven door. Good luck — I’d love to know how it turns out!

  5. Is this cake supposed to be a hard cake or a soft cake? I made it exactly as the recipe stated and the edges are rock-hard. My apples slices aren’t as ‘bloomed’ looking either. Maybe I sliced the apples too thin? I haven’t tasted it yet to know if the middle is hard too, because I’m bringing it to a suppentag party today.

  6. I made this and live at high elevation 5, 280 . It took a very long time to bake15 or 20 minutes more. Is it possible to bake at a little higher heat or do you have suggestions. We loved it ,but the xtra time in oven made it rather crisp on outside or hard. thanks

    1. Hi JoAnne! You do live at a high elevation! I have found a couple of different sources at this link and another one here that suggests when baking above 5,000 feet to increase the oven temperature by 25 degrees, and both reducing ingredients like baking powder and soda, sugar, etc., and actually increasing flour. As per their guidance, I would increase oven temperature to 375 degrees and decrease baking time by about 5 minutes. As to ingredients, they suggest decreasing the sugar and baking powder slightly, increase the butter by 1 to 2 tablespoons. Hope this helps!

      1. Are you supposed to use the entire cinnamon sugar mixture? It just seems like a lot.. wish I would have tossed the apples in the mixture before putting them in the dough… hoping it tastes alright. Making for a ladies bunco night.

        1. Hi Alicia! The cinnamon-sugar mixture always seems like a lot but it really adds a wonderful flavor to the kuchen! But yes — you can also toss the apples in it instead, though. I usually sprinkle the mixture over the top to avoid messy fingers :)!

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    1. That would be delicious Robie. I wouldn’t add more than a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts. You could either mix them into the cake batter and bake as directed, or sprinkle chopped walnuts on top. It’s hard to go wrong with walnuts. Love to hear how it turns out!

  8. I know this is an old post. I can’t recall how I found this. Needed a quick desert using ingredients I had at home, and tried it. Got so many compliments! It came out looking gorgeous, the taste was great. Only tweak I made is used milk instead of water for the glaze. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It might be an older post but the kuchen is a regular at our house. Love the idea of milk vs water. Will definitely try that next time. Have a great day!

  9. I made it tonight to bring as our German dish for our German octoberfest gathering tomorrow. It tasted different from all the desserts that I’ve had but i liked it, we all liked it.
    So definitely bringing this tomorrow and hope they will like it. Thanks for sharing this recipe Stephanie.

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! When I made my first kuchen, it was a bit different than I expected too. But in a good way! I hope everyone enjoys it! As you probably know, kuchen is a loved staple in German homes. My grandmother was a German from Russia and these kinds of desserts were their favorites.

  10. I know this is an older post. However, I made this kitchen today for dessert, and it was phenomenal! Thanks for sharing it!

        1. Hi Debra, I would recommend using a 9×13-inch pan and begin checking it at about 45 minutes. Then continue to check in 5-minute increments.

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