German Sunken Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)

» Skip to the recipe please.

It’s that time of the year again when we trade in our shorts, tank tops and flip flops for light coats, cardigans and socks. I can feel it in the air. Fall. Rather than fighting it, I happily relinquish summer with baking. And nothing says Fall to me than a German Sunken Apple Cake coming out of my oven. Seven years ago, I discovered this German afternoon cake from a cookbook, Unser Kochbuch No. 1. Das Kompakte Universalkochbuch, given to us by J’s mom (she loves sharing recipes like I do). I have baked this multiple times every year since then. J translated the recipe for me, of course. Dankeschön, mein Liebling.

What I love about the Sunken Apple Cake

Despite its seemingly complicated yet self-explanatory German name—go ahead and say it out loud, this cake is easy to make. There is no special ingredient required and it is fairly quick to put together. Preparing the Hasselback-sliced apples is the most involved part of the prep work, but it’s worth the effort. Not only does that ensure that the apples soften throughout, it also makes for a delightfully appealing presentation. The apple quarters are propped on a thick batter and sprinkled with turbinado sugar.  Traditionally, the cake is only lightly dusted with powdered sugar before serving. I do that sometimes, but I also love having the crunchy element from the large sugar crystals.German Sunken Apple Cake - before baking

During baking, the apple wedges sink and fan out a little bit, while the batter puffs up around them. The resulting cake is sturdy enough to hold the apples in place and is a touch on the dry side, which I believe makes them last longer at room temperature. Plus, no soggy cake there. The crumb is lightly sweet and lets the flavours of the apples shine. This is why I’d highly recommend using your favourite sweet-tart variety/ies for this recipe.

Our very own Fall harvest

We tend to bake with our backyard harvest of Spencer apples in as soon as we get them. Spencers have an alluring aroma and amazing balance of sweetness and tartness that lends extremely well to baked goods.

As it happens, we just picked a couple of boxes of apples over the weekend. They are as organic as it gets—lumps, bumps, bruises, and often with surprise “friends” inside…all natural indeed! Even with half of the fruit being unusable, I’d keep coming back to them because what could be better than baking with one’s own harvest?

I simply adore this cake and it epitomizes what I like in an afternoon treat: light, delicate, and goes perfectly well with coffee or tea. But who am I kidding? This is lovely with sips of bubbles, too.

German Sunken Apple Cake

Some of you may recall that I had previously shared this German Sunken Apple Cake in my blog back in 2013. Alas, I couldn’t automatically recover the posts from the backup of the old site anymore. It’s hard work, but I’m slowly manually extracting the hundreds of recipes I’ve posted throughout the years so I can share (and make) them again.

German Sunken Apple Cake - sliced

Looking for more fruit recipes? There’s still time to make this Peach Focaccia until the end of the stone fruit season.

Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German Sunken Apple Cake)

A favourite German afternoon cake, this lightly sweetened showstopper of a cake cake wonderfully features the fall harvest.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Afternoon Tea, Breakfast, Dessert, Snacks
Cuisine: German
Keyword: Apples, Autumn, Baking, Fall

Equipment

  • 9" springform pan

Ingredients

Apple Topping

  • 3 medium apples peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of half a medium-size lemon)
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar

Cake Batter

  • 125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)granulated sugar
  • 125 grams (1/2 cups + 2 1/2 teaspoons) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 large eggs yolks and whites separated into 2 bowls
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or **1 package of Dr. Oetker vanilla sugar (from the original recipe)
  • 200 grams (1 1/2 cups)unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 8 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder or **1/2 package of Dr. Oetker baking powder (from the original recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon (7 grams) powdered sugar optional, for serving

Instructions

Apple Topping

  • Take each piece of apple and using a sharp paring knife cut lengthwise slits 1/4-inch apart to create a "fan". Placing two chopsticks, one on each side of the wedge perpendicular to the knife, will help prevent slicing the wedge all the way through. If you make "Hasselback" potatoes, that is basically the same technique used here.
  • Place prepared apples in a small bowl and toss with lemon juice and sugar. Set aside.

Cake Batter

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the lower middle position. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by lightly greasing it with butter, then lining the bottom and sides with parchment circle and strips. This ensures the parchment paper will stay in place, and the cake will easily separate from the side and bottom of the pan with ease.
  • Cream the butter and sugar over medium speed in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add vanilla extract and egg yolks. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for another 10 seconds.
  • Whisk together flour and baking powder in a separate small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three (3) increments until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl at least once. The batter will be very thick, similar to a cookie dough.
  • Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks and fold a few dollops into the batter to loosen it up, then fold in the rest.
  • Pour into the springfrom pan and level with a spatula. Carefully place apple quarters core side down into the batter, pressing lightly to secure them in place. You can arrange them according to your desired pattern. Placing one in the center and the surrounding it with the rest is one way to do it.
  • Bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven and pan. It is done when a cake tester inserted in a non-apple section in the centre comes out clean and the top of the cake (not the apples) is lightly browned.
  • Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before unfastening and removing the side of the springform pan. Cool completely on a wire rack before placing on a plate.
    Optional: Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Notes

This recipe was translated and adapted from the German cookbook, Unser Kochbuch No. 1. Das Kompakte Universalkochbuch. It is sadly not 

Peach Focaccia: A Peak Summer Bread (Vegan Recipe)

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Peach Focaccia. I wouldn’t have thought of it!

Following the New York Times Cooking page on Facebook is a dangerous yet awesome thing. I’m inspired and often end up with an urgent need to make what they post. Cloudy Vancouver skies will push me to bake anything that looks bright and tasty, really, and that’s what happened when I saw this on my feed. On a cold summer weekday, I had hoped that the sunny peach-topped focaccia could help lift up my spirits. (And it did.)

Peach Focaccia (Vegan)

Keeping peach focaccia to its vegan roots

Herbed focaccia is typically vegan, but this NYT recipe is not. The sweet factor opened up the possibility for dairy here, I assume. Mmm…butter. [Venetian focaccia during Easter does have dairy—milk, eggs, and butter.]

That said, we have a vegan teenager in the house, so I skipped the egg called for in the original recipe and replaced butter with  Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks so she can have these. It did not taste like it needed the egg, to be honest. I also cut down on the thyme. A hint of it is fine, but I wouldn’t want to overpower the fragrant peaches.

The resulting focaccia tastes almost savoury and just the slight sweetness that’s mostly from the peaches. I did add some demerara sugar on top for a teeny bit more sweetness and crunch.

More summer fruit experiments

Would I make this again? Absolutely, vegan or not. I would try the original version with dairy butter and egg, but will stick to just a tablespoon of butter for coating the pan, instead of two. There are still a lot of different stone fruits in season and I would love to use a variety of them all on one spread before summer ends.

What could make it better? If you like it sweet, you can a tablespoon or more sugar in the dough. Cinnamon and nutmeg in the dough could also be interesting. There are so many possibilities with this bread!

Make sure to share your feedback if you make this recipe. I might go back to this later and update the recipe with notes after re-making it.

If you’re looking for another summer-y baked good to try, check out my recent obsession: Czech Blueberry Crumb Cake.

Peach Focaccia (Vegan)

Think focaccia meets the glorious days of summer. This lightly sweetened Peach Focaccia makes a great appetizer or snack.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Keyword: Baking, Bread, Fruits, Peaches, Stone Fruits, Summer, Vegan
Servings: 24

Equipment

  • half sheet baking pan (18"x13" w/ 1" lip)
  • stand mixer with dough hook attachment (optional, if you don't want to work the dough by hand)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 75 grams or 6 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 tbsp for the yeast, 3 tbsp for the dough, 2 tbsp for the peaches
  • 95 grams or 7 tablespoons unsalted butter melted; 60 grams or 4 tbsp for the dough, 15 grams or 1 tbsp to coat the baking pan, and 30 gram to brush over the baked focaccia.
  • 515 grams or 3 3/4 cups bread flour Canadian unbleached AP flour works well, too, thanks to its high protein content
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 2 large ripe peaches or other stone fruits, around 350 grams of flesh peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon demerara sugar or any coarse sugar optional; adds a nice crunch on top of the bread

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add flour, salt, egg, 3 tablesppons sugar and 60 grams (4 tablespoons) melted butter in the stand mixer bowl and mix at low speed for about 5 - 7 minutes, depending on room humidity. Make sure to pause the mixer a couple of times to scrape the sides and bottom. Dough should be smooth and will bounce back when pressed with a finger; the sides of the bowl will be almost clean. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free area until it doubles in size, about half an hour. An oven that has not been turned on will be a good spot for this.
  • Once doubled in size, gently punch down the dough and scrape the sides and bottom. Cover again and let it rise again for another 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Using a pastry brush, spread 15 grams (1 tablespoon) of melted butter on the rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough onto the prepared sheet and use your fingers to press and stretch the dough into a large oval or rectangle, about 10-by-15 inches. Leave the dough to rise in a warm spot, uncovered on the pan, for 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, toss the peaches with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the thyme leaves.
  • Use your fingers to make indentations on the dough for placing the peach slices. Gently push each peach slice on the dough, and avoiding any extra liquid from the fruit in the bowl. Sprinkle demerara sugar evenly on top, then bake for 20 minutes until it's puffed and starts to turn golden brown. , puffed and set, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Take out of the oven and brush the remaining 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of melted butter over the bread and fruit. Place in the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before transferring into a cutting board for slicing. Serve warm.

Notes

The original recipe is from the New York Times: Peach Focaccia with Thyme. It has been modified to be vegan-friendly.
Storage: Place completely cooled leftover slices in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Place in the fridge if it's an especially warm week to prevent moulding.
Reheating: This focaccia reheats beautifully and can be enjoyed for several days. Place in the oven or toaster oven preheated at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes. The edges and bottom will be crunchy.

Blueberry Crumb Cake (Czech Recipe)

 Lakeside boardwalk at Penticton, BC » Skip to the recipe please. (I hear you.)

It only took four years, but we finally made it back to the Okanagan to celebrate our friends’ wedding last month. We enjoyed another summer visit, despite the peak tourist season.

As it wont to be, I’d be inspired (and haunted by) a dish or baked good/pastry from our travels. I would get home and obsess about recreating it, of course. After weeks spent on this, I can truly say that the Blueberry Crumb Cake was my Penticton 2019 Food Fixation.

The Okanagan may be known for its wines and some of the best summer fruits, but I fell hard for cake this time.

How to fall in love with cake

We discovered the blueberry crumb cake at the Penticton Saturday Farmers Market when we had it as a quick snack before heading to the afternoon wedding. I realized I didn’t even check the name of the vendor or what this delicious morsel was called and we had no time to go back, unfortunately. At least I knew it was European. Our initial search led to a Czech version of the clafoutis, the bublanina. It looked comparable, although I don’t remember it being so eggy.

On the day we left, I walked over to the well-rated The Prague Cafe for coffee and snacks to take on the drive back to Vancouver. There, I saw it. I muffled a squeal as I walked in and my attention zoomed in to the pastries. I bought an embarrassing number of slices. I’m sharing them with four other people, alright?

I asked them if it was bublanina and they said No, it’s “fruit cake”. And that was it. That led to some deadend searches and I was stuck, yet relentless. Surely, someone out there would know!

The kindness of strangers on the internet…

I posted photos of the cake on social media, hoping someone could give me a hint at the very least. Not long after that, a Facebook reader replied with a link to a recipe in Czech. [Thanks for the translation, Google!] After comparing it with similar recipes, I was confident that it was the best starting point.

I dove right into it even without information on the pan size or the amount of blueberries from the original recipe. The first batch was promising, with more fruit than I thought it would hold. The cake also came out too thick for the pan, and therefore required a bigger one. Next, I baked it in a half sheet pan and that did the trick! Sunshine, rainbows and unicorn tears.

It’s incredibly good and everyone who has tasted it had the same first reaction as I did: “Best cake ever and can I have more and/or the recipe?!” I’ve made this recipe several times now and have tweaked it for use in different pan sizes.

This was our third attempt baked in a quarter sheet pan (9″x13″), with 300 grams of blueberries for half the recipe. Does it look like it needs more fruit? It’s entirely up to you. However, I would suggest to start with this amount. The cake really showcases the fruit, so make sure it is perfectly ripe.

The internet is a wonderful thing and strangers can be so generous if you let them be. Not only did I find the recipe for a cake that has made quite the impression on me, I have also been introduced to the world of Czech cakes and pastries. I’m absolutely intrigued—I want to bake more and travel there. 😊 If you have Czech recipes and cookbooks to share, please let me know in the comments!

Czech Blueberry Crumb Cake

Blueberry Crumb Cake (A Czech Recipe)

Inspired by the fruit cakes at The Prague Cafe in Penticton, BC, this light and barely sweet cake with blueberries and a sprinkle of buttery crumb make this a favourite any time of the day. You can use it with any perfectly ripe fruit in season.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert, Snacks
Cuisine: Czech
Keyword: Baking, Fruits, Travel-inspired

Equipment

  • Half sheet baking pan (18"x13" pan with 1" lip)
  • Food processor (optional; use if you want to save time)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour unbleached
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet Dr. Oetker Vanilla Sugar If you can't find this, it is equivalent to 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 250 grams unsalted butter cut into cubes for easier crumbling
  • 1 cup milk whole, 2% or 1% (depends on your preference)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 14 grams baking powder (or one packet of Dr. Oetker's baking powder
  • 750 grams fresh blueberries rinsed and drained

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a half pan baking sheet (18"x13" with 1" lip) with parchment paper, making sure it extends up to the sides and creased at the corners. Rubbing the bottom of the sheet with a little bit of butter will help keep the parchment paper in place when pouring the batter.
  • Combine flour, granulated sugar, unsalted butter and vanilla sugar in a food processor or in a medium bowl. Pulse/Process or crumble with your fingers until the entire mixture is the texture of coarse sand. It helps to add the butter in 3 batches.
  • Separate and save one cup of the crumb to use as a topping.
  • Mix baking powder to the remaining crumb mixture. Beat eggs and milk together in a small bowl then add to the mixture. Stir or pulse in the food processor until well combined; a few small lumps are to be expected.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and level. Carefully place and distribute the blueberries on the batter, then sprinkle the cup of crumb mixture evenly on top.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. It is done when the edges start to turn golden brown.
  • Let it cool in the pan. Can be served warm or at room temperature.**

Notes

**The best way to reheat this: Place it in the oven or oven toaster for 2-3 minutes. The bottoms will be every so slightly crisp, and the inside will be warm and fluffy.
The recipe can be halved and baked in a quarter sheet pan (9"x13" with 1" lip) for about 35-40 minutes.
The original recipe for this cake can be found at http://www.mamincinyrecepty.cz/ovocne-kolace-a-bublaniny/boruvkovy-drobenkovy-kolac/.
A huge thanks to Irene P. who pointed me to this wonderful recipe.

 

Here I Go Again

The thirties have been very busy, clearly. Complete abandonment of one’s blog? Check. Numerous life changes and milestones. Check. I’ll consider these progress and part of life. It is what it is.

Sunset at Lummi Island

 

I’ve been very active on Instagram, but I think I’ll give this website another chance. There will be food, travel, crafts, and things I love.

Welcome to Gourmeted.com and I hope you’ll join me again for the ride!