German apple cake

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Category: Food and Recipes

This comes from Zur Letzten Instanz, one of the oldest restaurants in Berlin, built right by the wall of the medieval city.

If you’re visiting Berlin, it’s something of a must. It is dark and many-roomed and you need to prepare for a huge intake of food. Not only is the Eisbein — fat-covered pork knuckle — the biggest I have ever seen, but even if you order something like liver you get a mountain of mashed potato alongside, and the Königsberger Klopse (veal and pork dumplings) were like cricket balls.

I loved it all, though how you could finish that pork knuckle I still don’t understand. But what I really loved was the apple cake afterwards. The Germans and Austrians, rather than dusting with icing sugar, sprinkle their cakes with demerara before cooking, which gives the cakes a lovely crunch.

Serves: 8 people


  • 2 dessert apples, peeled, cored and cut into fine wedges
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 75ml whole milk
  • 1½ tbsp demerara sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Whipped cream, to serve

01 Heat the oven to 150C (170C non-fan). Butter and line a 23cm-diameter cake tin.

02 Coat the apples in the lemon juice and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric beater until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Sift in the flour, baking powder and ½ tsp salt. Mix until incorporated. Slowly add the milk, mixing well after each addition, until you have a smooth batter.

03 Transfer the batter to the cake tin. Arrange the apple wedges in a spiral over the batter. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean and the top is golden.

04 Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes in the tin. Run a knife around the edges and turn out on to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.