Versunkener Apfelkuchen - German Apple Cake

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Versunkener ... there's a 'sunk' in there and yes, it's the German word for sunken. Then there's apfelkuchen which means apple cake. A sunken apple cake. And what a delicious one at that.

And this particular style of thinly almost slicing the apples through are what is unique about this Versunkener Apfelkuchen, for if you searched this recipe on google images, almost all of the pictures will bear the same resemblance to one another. Gotta hand it to those German grandmothers who made sure this cake had strict aesthetic standards.

Although this is more popularly baked as an apple cake, the Germans admit that this recipe is easily adaptable for any fruit in season ... rhubarb, pears, peaches, and berries, and have loosely referred to it as Versunkener Obstkuchen ... Sunken fruit cake. Again, how efficiently German at that ;)

I really liked this cake ... it had a beautiful and light crumb, it was moist and airy, and there was enough apple slices to punctuate the cake without screaming about it out loud. I especially liked the soft and silky parts of the cake where the apples rested on the batter.

Now the Germans recommend that you enjoy a slice of this cake with sweetened whipped cream, but barring that, a light sprinkle of icing sugar will provide enough visual as well as palatable treat.

200 g (1-3/4 sticks or 14 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
180 g (scant 1 cup) granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
4 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tbsp lemon juice
220 g (1-3/4 cups) cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp lemon juice
50 g (1/4 cup) demerara or turbinado sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar
Sweetened whipped cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 175C or 350F.
2. Butter an 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
3. Rub the lemon zest into the granulated sugar, then place with the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, beating until light and increased in volume.

4. In the meantime, thinly slice the apple quarters almost to the core, taking care not to cut through, leaving the quarter intact.
5. Toss with lemon juice from the same lemon you just zested. Cover and set aside.

6. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
7. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter and sugar mixture, scraping down the sides after each addition.
8. Add the vanilla and the lemon juice.
9. Reduce the speed and fold in the flour in two additions.

10. Pour the batter into the pan, and place the apple quarters, sliced side up around the perimeter and in the centre.
11. Sprinkle the demerara or turbinado sugar on top.
12. Bake for 55-65 minutes until it passes the skewer test.
13. While warm, run a small offset spatula or a knife around the sides to release the cake if needed.
14. Unmold and let cool.
15. Sift the icing sugar on top of the cake, then serve with sweetened whipped cream.

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