German Apple-Almond Cake (Apfel-Marzipan-Kuchen)
10 to 12 servings
Adapted from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss
I used a mix of apples, some tart, some less-so. Do use good-quality, flavorful apples, preferably ones from a farmers’ market, which taste better than supermarket varieties. For suggestions on which apples to use, ask the people at the farm stand or choose those that have a fragrance. Apples are related to roses, so often have a faint, yet lovely, rosy smell. If your apples are small, use 6 of them.
Luisa recommends grating the almond paste, which I didn’t do, so I had to run the mixture through a food processor. Since my almond paste was “artisanal” it wasn’t as moist as what you buy at the grocery story, so that may have been the culprit. So I recommend grating the almond paste in step #4.
4 medium apples, (1 3/4 pounds, 800g)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
7 ounces (200g) almond paste
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoons almond extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup, 3 tablespoons (150g) flour
9 tablespoons (80g) cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum free
1/4 cup (75g) apricot jam, strained if lumpy
1. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (23cm) springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Peel and core the apples. Divide the lemon juice into two separate bowls. Slice two of the peeled and cored apples into 1/2-inch (1,25cm) slices, and toss the apple slices in one bowl of lemon juice. Dice the other two apples into 1/3-inch (1cm) cubes. Toss in the other bowl of lemon juice.
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
4. Using a grater with large holes, grate the almond paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and mix until the almond paste is finely broken up.
5. Add the melted butter, almond extract, and lemon zest, and continue mixing until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
6. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the almond batter mixture by hand, then fold in the diced apples, along with any lemon juice in the bowl.
7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place the sliced apples in concentric circles on top of the batter, pressing them in very lightly.
8. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
9. Remove the cake from the oven. Warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan and brush it over the top while the cake is hot. Let the cake cool completely, then run a knife around the inside of the cake pan to release the cake, and remove the sides of the cake pan.
Serving and storage: This cake is so moist, it doesn’t require any accompaniment. However softly whipped cream, perhaps lightly spiced with cinnamon or allspice and a bit of vanilla or Cognac, would be welcome. Cinnamon ice cream would be lovely. The cake can be kept at room temperature for 3-4 days. Avoid freezing it, which could make it soggy.
Can I make my own almond paste?
I’ve not done it but it takes a very powerful machine (food processor) to get it as finely ground as purchased almond paste. Luisa has a recipe in her book (page 264) for those who want to give it a go. In the United States, I like Love ‘n Bake, but the tubes and packages of it sold in supermarkets (such as Solo or Odense brands) are generally of good quality, too.
Can I use marzipan?
Most marzipan is meant for modeling, so has more sugar (and sometimes glucose) added, to make it more pliable. So use almond paste, not marzipan. Nigella Lawson says that almond paste in England is called marzipan. So check that link for advisements if you live in the United Kingdom.
Can I make this without nuts?
Unfortunately, I don’t know of a nut-free substitute for almond paste.
Does it matter if my almond paste is blanched or unblanched?
It’s generally a matter of preference and what’s available. Either will work in this recipe. Unblanched almond paste is darker in color, but harder to find.
Is there a good way to remove this from the pan, for presenting and serving?
You can run a knife or spatula underneath the kuchen to remove it from the pan bottom and lift it slightly with a spatula, then futz underneath to peel off the parchment paper and slide it onto a serving platter. (It sounds complicated, but it actually quite easy as the cake is not fragile. You can also use a glass bottom springform pan and omit the parchment paper.