German apple torte – gedeckte Apfeltorte

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I did not even plan to make an apple cake this weekend – weird, right? After all, autumn is apple time and therefore apple cake time. Well, luckily these apples found me. My go-to vegetable & fruit lady at the local market told me about these heirloom apples, an old cooking apple variety which is best for cakes and suddenly I was totally set on apple cake. I got a few Golden Nobles (Gelber Edelapfel), a variety that was found around 1800 in Norfolk and has been cultivated since 1820. It is an excellent cooking apple, very low in sugar and, according to Dr Wikipedia, suitable for diabetics. Above all it is beautiful in its yellow-pale green colour. Peel it as thinly as you can and discover why it is also called Wachsapfel (wax apple) since the skin comes off like a fine shaving of a candle and the pale yellow-green skin colour stays on the apple flesh.

Anyway, this noble apple demands a special cake, a traditional German gedeckte Apfeltorte which is covered apple torte where a magnificently juicy soft apple layer studded with raisins and almonds is encased in a soft (yes) shortcrust pastry and covered with a lemon-sugar glaze. It does not get any more German than this. Sourcing recipes, I found one in a cookbook from 1894 (I love old cookbooks) for a Hamburg apple torte that sounded like the one I was searching for and was about to start when my Mum rang – excellent timing. Naturally, I told her about the market, the apples and that I was about to embark on baking (we talk about food a lot) and she told me about this old family recipe that she had been given by my grandmother’s twin sister and swore that Tante Martha’s apple torte is the best apple cake ever. As I said, excellent timing. Danke, Mama!

The recipe arrived post-haste (well, email) and my Mum is right, it is the BEST apple cake EVER, the apple slices melded together into a soft apple layer, juicy but not runny, tart and sweet with plump raisins and little almond nuggets (I’ve added those since I love raisins and almonds in an apple cake, soak them in rum if you like a boozy note but of course water is fine, too), a well tempered hint of cinnamon (not too much). This fabulous apple filling is balanced by the soft & crumby pastry and finally, the sweet lemony glaze – serve with lashings of whipped cream after that first autumn walk in the forest. Best on Grandma’s china, if you’ve got some, for the true German experience.

More autumn baking: fig tartmaple & walnut buttermilk scones, brown butter ebelskiver, gougères, Chipotle cheddar scones and warming soups for when you come back from these long walks: red lentil curry coconut soup, Roasted parsnip & Jerusalem artichoke soup, Minestrone della nonna. Make fabulous English Steak & Guinnes pie after spending the whole day outside and need something extra comforting.

gedeckte Apfeltorte


German apple torte (gedeckte Apfeltorte)

For the dough:
300g / 2½ cups flour
200g / ½ + ⅓ cup / 2 sticks minus 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
100g / ½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder

For the filling:
800g / 1¾ lbs. cooking apples (Golden Noble or Boskoop)
50g / ¼ cup sugar
1 pinch cinnamon
⅓ cup raisins, soaked in rum or water, then drained and dried
⅓ cup almond sticks (= blanched almonds cut into tiny sticks)
2 teaspoons corn flour / corn starch

For the glaze:
icing sugar / confectioners’ sugar
lemon juice

Make a shortcrust pastry: rub all ingredients together into a crumbly dough with your (cold) hands, a pastry blender or briefly blitz in a food processor until crumbly, then form a disk, wrap in cling film and chill for a minimum of 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 430° F regular (200°C / 390° F convection / fan-assisted oven) and butter a 24cm / 9½ inches springform pan.

Assembly: Peel and thinly slice the apples, mix with the other ingredients for the filling in a bowl, set aside. Divide the dough into ⅔ and ⅓ pieces; roll out the bigger piece into a disk to cover the bottom and form a 2½ inches rim. Clad out the buttered springform pan and form the rim reaching up to the top or at least 2½ inches high. Roll out the remaining dough into a disk slightly larger than the size of the pan for the lid. Fill the cake with the apple-raisin-almond mixture and cover with the lid, making sure to seal the edges. Make a small hole in the middle to release any steam and bake for 30 minutes on a shelf in the lower third of the oven. Reduce the temperature to 180°C / 355° F (160°C / 320° F convection oven), cover the top of the cake with tin foil to prevent it from getting too brown and bake for another 30 minutes. Leave to cool until just warm and glaze the top with a thin icing made from icing sugar and lemon juice. Serve with whipped cream or pure.

About temperatures and baking times: My aunt Martha baked her cake at 220°C / 430° F for ¾ hour, I find reducing the temperature after ½ hour, covering the top and baking it slower cooks the filling better and does not brown the pastry too much.

Deutsches Rezept:

German apple torte


Gedeckte Apfeltorte

300 g Mehl
200 g kalte Butter, in Stücke geschnitten
100 g Zucker
1 Ei
1 Päckchen Vanillezucker oder 1 TL Vanilleextrakt
¾ Päckchen / 2 TL Backpulver

800g Äpfel (Gelber Edelapfel oder Boskoop)
50 g Zucker
1 Messerspitze Zimt
2 gehäufte EL / 60g Rosinen
60g Mandelstifte
2 TL Speisestärke

Puderzucker
Zitronensaft

Alle Zutaten zu einem Mürbeteig verkneten d.h. die kalte Butter und die anderen Zutaten mit (kalten) Händen verreiben oder alles in kurzen Intervallen in der Küchenmaschine vermischen bis Krümel entstanden sind, anschließend mit den Händen zu einem Teig zusammenschieben. In Frischhaltefolie verpacken und für mindestens 2 Stunden kühl stellen.

Backofen auf 220°C vorheizen (200°C Umluft) und eine 24cm Springform mit Butter einfetten.

Die Äpfel schälen, in dünne Scheiben schneiden und mit den restlichen Zutaten für die Füllung mischen. Zwei Drittel des Teiges ausrollen und die Springform einschließlich den gesamten Rand damit auskleiden. Das restliche Drittel für den Deckel etwas größer als die Form ausrollen. Füllung in die Form geben und mit dem restlichen Teig zudecken, Ränder sorgfältig verschließen und mit dem Messer ein kleines Loch in den Deckel schneiden damit Dampf austreten kann. 30 Minuten backen, dann die Temperatur auf 180°C (160°C Umluft) reduzieren, eventuell mit Alufolie abdecken (falls der Kuchen schon sehr goldbraun ist) und weitere 30 Minuten backen. Etwas auskühlen lassen und noch warm den Deckel mit der Glasur aus Puderzucker und Zitronensaft bestreichen. Pur oder mit Schlagsahne genießen.

Anmerkung: meine Tante Martha hat ihren Kuchen bei 220°C eine ¾ Stunde gebacken, ich reduziere lieber die Temperatur nach einer halben Stunde und backe den Kuchen abgedeckt etwas länger damit die Füllung schön durch ist aber der Kuchen nicht zu dunkel wird.

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23 thoughts on “German apple torte – gedeckte Apfeltorte

    • Yes, truly amazing how many apple varieties there are and how many beautiful illustrated pomological volumes have been created since the 18th century. Thanks, Amanda, as always you are so kind – and always invited. Just shout out when you are coming. N xx

    • Gerlinde, never without Schlagsahne, though, yesterday, it tasted just fine without it (I am wondering if I have to rescind my nationality admitting that I ate it sans whipped cream…). Your aunt must be from Northern Germany as well, am I right? My Grandmother’s family from the region “Das Alte Land” close to Hamburg, known for its apples and apple cakes.
      N xx

      • My family , aunt lives near Göttingen in a small village called Behrensen which is now part of Moringen. My aunt was an outstanding baker , she made the best cakes ever. I miss visiting like I used to when my mom was still alive. Oh well, that’s just part of life. We cook and try to hang on to the memories.

  1. This is a stunning apple torte! I love baked goods with apples in them, probably my favourite (crumbles, pies, cakes!). I can imagine how good this would be, warm from the oven with cream. Are the almond sticks ‘marzipan’? x

      • Ha, Laura, I had written slivered almonds at first but a while later it got me thinking and I googled for the fitting term, sticks sounded alien to me to but thanks to you, I could provide some explanations. Nicole xx

  2. Aaah, in the chaotic world of kitchen renovating, I can only dream of making this wonderful cake. Meanwhile, I’ll just sit in the dust and stare at your great photo, drooling 😉

    • Jeanette, you might find that a little weird but strangely, I find a little renovation and a total larder overhaul deeply satisfying. Sadly too late for me sending you over some cake, gone the day before yesterday (how cruel). Keep calm & carry on, N xx

  3. Was für ein prachtvolles Exemplar ! Can´t get more German than that? Can´t get any leckerer either 🙂 Ganz ehrlich, der gedeckte Apfelkuchen gehört zu meinen absolution Lieblingskuchen, seit ich denken kann. Meine Mutter (und ich auch) machen ihn mit einem etwas anderen Guß (Mandel/Walnuß + Sahne/Ei), aber Deiner kommt demjenigen, den ich aus unserer früheren Stammbäckerei kannte, viel näher. Klasse!

    • Genau, dieser Kuchen weckt bei mir so viele Erinnerungen an meine Oma und ihre Schwestern, ein ganz großer Teil meiner Kindheit steckt in jedem Bissen. Lecker, lecker, Euer Nuß-Sahne-Guß, den muß ich unbedingt mal ausprobieren! Liebe Grüße, N xx

  4. Your cake looks like one we have with tea one afternoon while we were staying in the Hohenlohe region of Germany. I must give your delicious recipe a try.

    • Thank you, Karen, that sounds wonderful! I also love a slice of this with a cup of tea, it’s simply perfection. Hope it brings back nice memories of your trip, let me know how it worked out. Nicole

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