Apple-Almond Cake (Apfel-Marzipan-Kuchen)

August 22, 2016
23 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 1 (9-inch/23cm) cake
Author Notes

I sourced recipes for this book from everywhere, and I mean everywhere: friends, mothers-in-law, abandoned magazines in hotels, strangers, newspapers, antique cookbooks, stained handwritten notebooks, the Internet, and even from the back of a generic brand of almond paste sold at the grocery store around the corner from my house.

I can explain: My assistant, Maja, and I had tried a couple of apple–almond paste cakes earlier in our testing, but they were nothing special. In fact, after the most recent lackluster one, I’d decided to omit this cake, even though I love the combination of almond paste and apples and I was sort of surprised we hadn’t cracked that particular code. Three days before the manuscript was due, Iwas looking on the back of a packet of almond paste and out of the corner of my eye I saw a little recipe. I mean really little; it was printed on the short side of the 4-inch- /10cm-wide rectangular packet. It was less than a knuckle’s length of printed information, but as soon as I saw it, I knew we’d have to try it.

We had almond paste. We had apples. We had an hour between one loaf rising and another cake baking. So we made a few tweaks (more apples, for one, and adding almond extract and salt for better flavor plus brushing a hot apricot glaze on top to give the cake a special sheen) and an hour later we had the world’s best apple-almond cake in front of us. No joke. This cake is epic.

The crumb is so incredibly tender, it’s almost creamy (don’t skip the cornstarch!), and tastes of both sweet cream and faintly boozy almonds. You can’t taste the almond paste outright, but it gives the crumb an ineffable richness. The apples add lovely little punches of juicy tartness here and there, since they’re both cubed and folded into the batter and also sliced and laid out attractively on top. Baked in a 9-inch/23cm pan, the cake is a satisfyingly full 2 inches/5cm tall. The apricot glaze gives it a gorgeous, company-ready finish. And it keeps well, if wrapped in plastic, for a couple days on the counter. So in every way, this cake was worth the wait.

Reprinted with permission from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. —Luisa Weiss

What You'll Need
  • 6 small apples (1 3⁄4 pounds/800 grams), divided
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) almond paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (200 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups scooped and leveled, minus 1 tablespoon/150 grams all-purpose flour
  • 9 1/2 tablespoons (85 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (75 grams) apricot jam
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180°C). Line the bottom of a 9-inch/23-centimeter springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan.
  2. Peel, halve, and core 3 of the apples, and cut each half into 6 even slices. Toss the apple slices with half of the lemon juice and set aside.
  3. Peel, halve, and core the remaining apples, and then cut into 1/3-inch/8-millimeter dice. Toss with the remaining lemon juice and set aside.
  4. Grate the almond paste and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment. Add the salt and melted butter; beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth. Then beat in the sugar and almond extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Beat into the almond batter, and then fold in the diced apples. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Distribute the sliced apples decoratively in concentric rings on the top of the cake. Then, using the flat of your hand, gently push the apples into the batter; they should not be submerged, but rather lightly anchored.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
  7. Immediately heat the apricot jam over medium-high heat until just bubbling. Brush a thin layer of the hot jam over the still-hot cake. Let cool completely before removing the springform ring. The cake will keep at room temperature, lightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for several days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Donna Lietzau
    Donna Lietzau
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  • Danielle van Heeckeren
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  • Samantha Raynor
    Samantha Raynor
  • Elena Scripps
    Elena Scripps
I'm a food writer based in Berlin. I'm the author of Classic German Baking (Ten Speed Press, 2016) and My Berlin Kitchen (Viking, 2012).

50 Reviews

abcrystcats May 15, 2023
Surprisingly, mine turned out a bit dry and crumbly. Maybe I left it in too long or used a bit too much flour. It’s very good though and will certainly be eaten up. I used orange marmalade to glaze it instead of apricot.
Donna L. November 21, 2022
I loved this cake! The next time I make it, I'm going to omit the teaspoon of almond extract and add a teaspoon of amaretto
Mark A. November 7, 2022
Most years we have a bumper crop of Spigold apples from our tree, so I've tried a lot of apple cake recipes. This one gets the gold star. It's moist without being wet or gloppy, balances apple, lemon, and almond flavors nicely, and keeps well (admission: we didn't even cover it for 4 days in our rather cool house, and it was very edible to the end). Freezing and grating the almond paste is a great trick. Although we love almond, I want apples to be the first and last thing I taste, so I intend to try it without the added almond extract next time to scale back the almond flavor, but otherwise it's pretty close to perfect and absolutely worth the effort. It turned out pretty much as shown, so it really IS super photogenic.
CBaron December 1, 2022
Thanks for the tip about freezing the almond paste! I could not get it to grate at room temperature and had to load chopped bits and melted butter into a food processor to break it all down to a smooth mix. Then had to load it all back into a stand mixer to add eggs and all the rest.
Mark A. December 26, 2022
I've now made this 3 or 4 times, using different types of apples, and as others have noted, a sweeter apple is better. I also prefer it with no almond extract to make the almond flavor less dominant. I tend to add more apples than called for, which increases baking time and moist center (almost pudding like if not baked long enough), but we prefer the moistness over a dry cake. I've had to resort to shielding the cake with foil around the edges to prevent over-browning halfway through baking. Friends who've tasted the cake have asked for the recipe. This has become my go-to apple cake. It's a real winner.
Katheryn's K. November 1, 2022
I cut the almond paste into chunks and put in food processor to cut up instead of grating by hand. Worked really well.
SiriZ October 2, 2022
Beautiful presentation. Things I would do differently next time - I'd use a sweeter apple; I chose Granny Smith and didn't like the tartness imparted in this particular case (although I bake with them often). The almond taste is subtle. The apricot glaze gives it picture perfect presentation. The rise was amazing. I cooked it exactly 70 minutes at 350 and could have gone 5 minutes less I think, the edges were a little over browned. Agree with another comment to add more almond paste and/or extract to get a bit more almond to the taste. Even topped with sliced almonds might be interesting. Will try this again with those changes!
Katheryn's K. October 31, 2022
Yes I was thinking of topping with toasted sliced almonds.
Char September 6, 2021
My German boyfriend approves! I made this cake for his birthday and he was very happy with it.
Here are some changes I made.
1) Used gluten-free measure-for-measure flour and "plant butter" due to my allergies.
2) Made the parchment circle 10 inches (using the bottom from my 10-inch springform pan as a template) and used it to line my 9 inch pan. This gave me a bit of extra of parchment to go partially up the sides of the pan. This prevented leaking and made it much easier to get the cake of off the bottom of the pan.

Here are the changes I'll make next time I bake it.
1) I will bake it 65 minutes instead of 70. GF flour tends to dry out easily and this could be a touch more moist.
2) I will add the entire 8 ounces of almond paste and a bit more almond extract to get more almond flavor.

Finally, I have a question. Should the apples chopped up in the batter be discernable after the cake is baked or should they simply dissolve and bake into the cake? in my case, the latter happened.
Char November 4, 2021
So, I made it again. This time I shared it with the members of the German chorus with which I sing. The cake was a big hit! As noted in my previous review, I modified the recipe in some ways.
1) Gluten-free flour (measure-for-measure)
2) I used a 10 in circle of parchment to line my 9 inch pan.
Additional changes I made this time included
3) Used 9 oz of almond paste.
4) Used a sweeter apple called SweetTango.
5) Baked 75 minutes. It took this long for the center to get done. I think that this additional bake time was due to the increased moisture from more almond paste.

The result was a very tasty cake with a moist, dense crumb. The only problem was that near the edge the cake, it was a little dry. Next time, I will wrap an aluminum foil sleeve around the outside of the pan. I think this will keep the edges from cooking too quickly (and thus drying out) while the center gets done.
Jamie K. March 3, 2021
I had the same issue with this cake taking longer than 70 minutes. I kept feeling that it should be done but I didn't want a gooey center so I waited for the clean tester. That was a mistake. The cake was very dark on the sides and bottom, just golden on top and dry. Flavors were good and it was very very pretty. I will try again but next time I will use a metal tester instead of long wooden pick :) Also, I used Pink Lady apples and they just didn't taste "appley" enough to me. Lastly, I find almond paste a bit too powerful so I cut the almond extract in half substituting vanilla. Plenty of almond flavor for my taste :) I look forward to trying this again!
Danielle V. February 20, 2021
This is an amazing recipe! We happened to have homemade marzipan in the fridge which is ridiculously easy to make. The only digression from the recipe was adding freshly ground cardamom to the melted butter to encourage the cardamom to release maximum flavor. We served it with whipped cream. We felt like we were in a Stockholm cafe💙
Danielle V. February 23, 2021
Making it for a second time in 4 days. This time the top apples sank. I used cake flour instead of all purpose and the apples may have been wetter from the lemon juice.
Samantha R. December 17, 2020
one of my favorites! i've made this twice now and it's always amazing. A super easy crowd pleaser too, with the beautiful apricot apple top :) This time I made a few adjustments. I only had Spelt and Rye flour, so I used a combination of them both. And I also used my favorite dairy-free butter. It was so amazing! I definitely recommend experimenting with other ingredients -- the rye and spelt flours added a tenderness and flavor that really complements the almond and apple. I also recommend making your own marzipan (almond paste), it's a world of difference. Homemade marzipan is much softer and truly delicious, so the end result is more consistent and the texture comes out perfect. Feel free to cook this recipe beginner or not, it's surprisingly easy!
ZebedahGreine June 13, 2020
So what other types of pan could I use other than a springform? Because the one I have leaks.. a 9x13? A 9 inch cake pan? Or 2 of those? Lost..
Keith S. June 14, 2020
A 9-inch cake pan will do fine as far as the baking. The main appeal of using a springform is that the cake is really moist [not everybody's fave word, I know ;), but it's the mot juste], so it makes freeing it, intact, easier. With the cake pan, how about 1) laying down a circle of parchment before pouring the batter in it, 2) covering the top of the cake w/ plastic wrap when it's completely cooled and turning it out onto a dish (preferably one whose circumference fits in the cake pan), then sandwiching it with a serving platter and flipping it back over...If all the transfers are gentle and patient, it should be fine
ChefGam January 19, 2020
Made this cake yesterday. It was beautiful but bland and lacking in almond flavor. I used Whole Foods 365 almond extract. Would a higher quality extract Or another teaspoon of the WF brand make a significant difference? I’m also wondering if the cake takes on more flavor if it sits for a day or more.
Keith S. January 19, 2020
I would wonder more about the 7oz. almond paste than the 1tsp of extract, which I think would only serve to sharpen the flavor already there. Was the full tube of paste used a fresh one, and how strong was its aroma when you cut it out of the package?
Keith S. December 27, 2019
Wondrous! Mine was firm from the edges inward, with a melting center that made it difficult to stop eating. Can’t wait to make more to give away whole cakes.
Ann @. November 23, 2018
Made this exactly as written but baked it about 15 minutes longer per comments below. It was glorious. I've made a few cakes based on the idea of sliced or diced apples baked in a whipped batter with minimal flour (I think called a Charlotka) but the results were bland and, in one case, literally oozing butter. This recipe turned out a delicate cake with a trio of flavors served by the apples, almond ingredients and the apricot jam. The top arrangement of apples held perfectly and I was concerned about plating this baby. It was actually easy to release from the pan and getting the cake on the plate was easier than I anticipated. Since my parchment liner ran up the sides of the cake about 1/2", I just peeled it back, lifted a bit and bingo, it's on the cake mover then onto the plate! Saved to the recipe box!
Elena S. November 8, 2018
Made the cake before and followed recipe, turned out great. Can I substitute butter for olive oil? to make this cake dairy free.
nancy E. October 18, 2018
Need your help...this is in the oven now. It has risen so much the batter is dripping on the oven floor. The apples are not visible and it is 10 minutes over the cooking time and still soupy in the center. I am a good baker. Recipe was followed to a T what has gone wrong?
Gennadoo October 20, 2018
I had the same issue tonight. I think I might use a slightly larger springform pan next time. It also needed at extra 20 minutes of baking time because it was so thick.
nancy E. October 20, 2018
Thank you for your response. It is not just me then. It turned out delicious but all the apples on top had sunk. Oh well, proof is in the pudding
Holly November 22, 2018
Same here. An hour and 10 mins later, inside still very runny... still in the oven...fingers crossed
Brenda B. September 14, 2018
Delish. I would try making it without the almond extract because the flavor was a bit strong for most people that tried it but this recipe is a keeper.
ghainskom September 13, 2017
Made this as a way to use some of 15 pounds of self picked apples. We used red prince apples, similar to elstar, they're sweet and sour. According to the kiddies, best apple cake evah. *drops mike*
rosemary |. August 1, 2017
This cake is simply stunning and delicious. I made it with great success a few months ago. My entire family went crazy over it. Since that time, we have discovered that my granddaughter is gluten intolerant. Do you have any suggestions on how to make this gluten-free? I'm thinking that perhaps I could just substitute the flour with my gluten-free all-purpose mix. Being so new to this gf world, I'm a bit hesitant.
Debbie M. November 16, 2018
Hi, Did you ever make this cake with GF flour? I'm going to make it and try the Cup4Cup flour I've been using with pretty good results. Thanks!
rosemary |. November 16, 2018
I haven't tried a gluten-free version yet but I'm sure I will at some point in the near future. At that time, I'll be sure to post a comment on my results!
Ann D. February 21, 2017
Could pears or plums work as well, or would they be too soft and liquid?
Windischgirl January 29, 2017
Made this for friends last night and it was very nice; the apricot glaze provided a pleasant tang. It could have even used a bit more sugar, and I tend to cut back on sugar! I had some imported almond paste which was barely sweetened, so marzipan would definitely make it sweeter. I found that letting the grated almond paste sit for a few minutes with the warm butter helped it to blend together more uniformly.
I baked it for 60 minutes, then covered it with foil and baked an additional 20 minutes as it was browning quickly. It rose beautifully but the apples on top sank. The only problem I had was trying to remove the springform base, but that was me being too lazy to get my cake lifter from the pantry...I used my hand to anchor the top of the cake and the lovely apricot glaze peeled off!
My friend said "that's what powdered sugar is for!"