Monday, October 5, 2009

Celebrate German Heritage Recipe #2: Apfelkuchen

Oh, man, there’s a whole world of great German desserts out there, and even just the “kuchens” come in all varieties and forms. (Well, that’s not surprising, when you consider that kuchen means “cake,” and of course we have ten thousand types of cakes—sheet cakes, pancakes, crab cakes, coffee cakes, ice cream cakes, rice cakes, etc.)

So there are a ton of different ways to make “apfelkuchen,” or “apple cake”; this is just one version—but I think you’ll like it.

It’s a nice, easy, little apple cake recipe from my Grandma Schroeder’s best friend in the whole wide world, her crony from early girlhood through their entire lives, Marie (Weigand) Korsmeyer, born February 19, 1904.

Their friendship resembled a “Lucy and Ethel” relationship in some ways; it was beautiful, lively, fun-filled, and true. I think whenever their shenanigans ended with “trouble,” they generally wound up having a good laugh over it.

Grandma and Marie were practically sisters, growing up together here on Elm Street; to my dad and his brothers, Marie was another aunt. And to me, she was in the same category as my great aunts Minnie and Esther, and cousin Marguerite, in that same age group . . . No family get-together was complete without Marie’s cackling laughter.

She passed away on October 4, 1999—almost exactly ten years ago. Hard to believe we’ve been this long without her. (*Sigh.*)

. . . Okay, back to Marie’s apple cake. Notice that the recipe calls for two cups of apples and one cup of flour—so get a sharp knife and chop the apples finely. Indeed, this cake can be rather crumbly because of all the yummy apple in it.

I also recommend blending all the dry ingredients separately before adding the apples and nuts; also, I suggest mixing the vanilla in with the sugar-shortening-egg mixture, since it’s a “wet” ingredient.

The batter is pretty stiff, sticky, and relatively dry, but not to worry—the apples will provide moisture while this bakes. To spread the batter out in the pan, try wettening your hands with some water and using them to pat and smooth the surface.

It will get a little crisp on top; it’s done when the edges start pulling away from the pan and a toothpick comes out clean. You know.

This is an excellent coffee cake as well as a yummy dessert. For the latter, consider serving it hot, à la mode, and perhaps garnished with a bit of cinnamon sugar, or nutmeg, or powdered sugar.

Marie’s Apple Cake
from Marie Korsmeyer


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg


2 cups apples, cut fine
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 cup nuts, if desired

Spread into a greased [8 x 8”] cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until done.

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