Sunken Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)

A long time ago I had a piece of sunken apple cake and have thought about it ever since. Then a baby (now toddler) came along and time for baking went a bit by the wayside. It’s a rainy September evening, the toddler is asleep, and I had the ingredients on hand, so no time like the present!

The Kitchn and Smitten Kitchen are two very reliable sources for recipes, but one of my quibbles is they don’t do baking recipes by weight or in metric, only volume. *first world sigh* Sally’s Baking Addiction shows conversions (yay!) but she doesn’t have an Versunkener Apfelkuchen recipe, so. Here I am to the rescue! I made the cake pretty much exactly to the Kitchn letter, although I reduced the flour ever so slightly per Smitten Kitchen‘s recommendation. It turned out fantastically and will make for an excellent breakfast tomorrow (if it lasts that long).


  • 3 medium apples, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 of a lemon (zested and juiced)
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 130 g room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) fine sea salt
  • 1-2 TB (15-30 ml) demerara sugar (also called sugar in the raw)


Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F/177ºC. Line the bottom of a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan with parchment paper; set aside.

Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Thinly slice each quarter lengthwise without cutting all the way through to the core side, leaving the quarter hinged together. Put the zest of the lemon into a large bowl and set aside; save the lemon juice.

Place the sugar and butter in the bowl with the lemon zest and beat (a stand mixer or hand mixer is your friend) until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides; add the vanilla extract and 1 of the eggs. Beat until combined before adding the second egg. Beat until combined and then add the third egg. Scrape down the sides. Beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the flour mixture until just combined, and beat in the juice from the reserved lemon half. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and give the batter one last mix by hand.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Gently press the apple quarters into the batter, core-side down, leaving only a bit of space between each quarter. If you have any apple left over, break off slices and insert them into any open space available. Sprinkle the top evenly with the demerara sugar.

Bake, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the cake is golden-brown and a tester inserted into the cake (not apple) comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Place the pan on a rack to cool for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge and removing the springform ring. Let cool to room temperature.

Serve with whipped cream or eat furtively in the kitchen and hope no one notices the large slice missing.