I never knew Mrs. Schunke, but I understand she employed my mother to clean her house when my family first came to the United States, years before I was born. The only relic I have of her role in my family's life was a stained 3x5 card with a typed recipe for apple kuchen. It was one of those 1,1,1,1 recipes so popular in the 1950's--simple ingredients and a formula that was impossible to forget. Eggs, flour, sugar, butter: make it once and the recipe would be forever imbedded in your mind. My mother would often make this cake on a summer's day, substituting peach slices or halved prune plums for the apples. It's a nice, light dessert or afternoon snack with coffee or tea, but I've also served it as a coffee cake for a weekend breakfast. This cake is best eaten the day it's made, but leftovers will keep for a day or two in a tightly-covered container at room temperature.
I just realized that the old recipe card has different proportions than the card my mother shared with me...rest assured the 4 eggs make for a light, tender cake. —Windischgirl
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a rimmed baking pan--I usually use a 1/4-sheet pan (12x18) but you can use a 9x13 baking pan for a greater cake-to-fruit ratio.
Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature for best results. If the eggs are right out of the fridge, warm them in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes before breaking.
In the bowl of a stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, beat the 4 eggs and the sugar. Start at low speed and gradually increase the speed to 8. Beat for 6 minutes. The eggs will become creamy, fluffy, and opaque, and double to triple in volume.
Turn off the mixer and switch to the flat beater attachment. With the mixer on lowest speed, add in the flour gradually, a few tablespoonfuls at a time, until just combined. Turn off the mixer, scrape the sides, and mix for another 30 seconds.
With the mixer on lowest speed, add the melted cooled butter in a stream until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, gently easing the batter into the corners of the pan. The batter will be bubbly.
Arrange the apples decoratively on the surface of the cake, covering as much of the batter as possible. Dust with cinnamon and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Let the cake cool slightly before serving. Cut the cake into 3 inch squares and place on a platter to serve.
Note: I've also posted a variation of this recipe, 'Mrs Shunke Revisited.' Try both and let me know which you prefer!