German baked goods... They are something special.
From a friendly Bienenstich to a classic batch of spiced, iced Zimtsternen at Christmas, German baking is "a traditionalist's dream." And I'm not one to mess with a good thing.
My goal this year is to learn some old family recipes, on my German side. Christmas is generally when we get back to the old-school recipes: We certainly partake in a classic Christmas Stollen, a thick, sweet bread with fruit and powdered sugar. Another standby that time of year is a batch of beautifully stamped, anise-scented Springerle (though the anise can certainly be polarizing among family members).
Since it's still Fall, I used this recipe for Versunkener Apfelkuchen, literally "Sunken Apple Cake," which comes from the new book, Classic German Baking, by Luisa Weiss. Needless to say, I ordered it, and just got it in the mail today.
I can't wait to make all sorts of different recipes with ingredients like quark (if I can find it), apricot jam and poppy seeds (a vastly under-used ingredient in traditional American baking, in my opinion).
First, I cut up the apples into quarters, and sliced them almost all the way through, into thin sheets, still connected at the base. I sunk these into the rather thick, dough-like batter, spread across the bottom of a Springform pan, and sprinkled Demerara sugar over the top of the cake.
After baking for 35 minutes, my cake was still a bit pale on top, so I let it brown for another minute or two, before taking it out of the oven and cooling it on a rack on the counter.
The cake came out nicely crisped along the bottom and edges, with a chewy texture. The cake relented around the sunken apples, enveloping the sliced fruit into a warm embrace.
I stored this cake overnight, ready for some visitors to dig into for breakfast. The next morning, I made the Schlagsahne, or whipped cream, in my mixer. This was the perfect finishing touch, to add some moisture to the cake, which is certainly towards the crumbly side; a coffee-style cake.
The German concept of Kaffeeklatsch, meeting up for informal coffee with friends, would be well-served with this cake. Keep a little bit of whipped cream to top off your coffee, once a dollop is on your cake slice, and you're good to go.