Sunken Apple Cake

This is fabulously moist with loads of apple, and a specialty of my German late sister-in-law Dolores. Good apples are essential. They need to retain their shape after cooking – not turn to fluff – and have a sharp bite to them which gives the cake interest. However, you don’t want dry fibrous apples that take an age to soften.


  • 125g unsalted butter, cubed then softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 3 medium (size 7) free-range eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten together
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g standard flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp milk (or as much as needed)
  • 1 kg cooking apples (granny smith, ballarat etc) peeled, cored and quartered
  • Cinnamon sugar (mix 1 Tbsp caster sugar and ¼ tsp ground cinnamon together)
  • Icing sugar

Plain unsweetened yoghurt, crème fraîche or cream for serving


  1. Put the softened butter in the bowl of an electric cake mixer and mix until soft and loose. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence and beat until thick and creamy; don’t worry too much if it separates – it all comes together in the end!
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together on to a piece of paper, then mix in, a quarter at a time, adding the milk.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a 23cm round cake tin, the bottom and sides lined with baking paper. Smooth the top of the batter. Partially slice the pieces of apple, about three-quartered of the way through, and press them deeply into the cake batter; make two layers of apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  4. Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C for 50 minutes, until golden brown. If the apples are still a little hard, cover the cake loosely with aluminium foil and continue cooking for 10 minutes more.
  5. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a plate, lift off tin and peel off paper from the bottom of the cake. Quickly cover cake with a piece of baking paper and a cake rack and flip right side up. Do this procedure quickly so the apples are not squashed. When the cake is cool, slide it onto a serving plate, dust with icing sugar and serve accompanied by yoghurt, a blob of crème fraîche or a pool of cream.

Julie Biuso of Shared Kitchen, award-winning author & food writer. Sign up for Julie’s weekly food newsletters sharedkitchen.co.nz