A fall classic, this German apple sheet cake is made with a sweet yeast-based dough base and topped with plenty of tart apples.
Photography by Alexandra Daum.
Similar to our German plum sheet cake, this German apple sheet cake is a solid favourite around this time of year. A lightly sweetened yeast cake base is topped with plenty of thinly sliced apples and a sweet streusel, for a delicious coffee cake.
Sweet dough is surprisingly easy to work with, especially in recipes like this that require virtually no shaping. If you’ve ever made cinnamon rolls, you can make this cake!
Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the printable recipe card with full ingredient measurements and complete instructions.
Tips and Notes
The rising time may vary slightly based on the temperature of your home and the type of yeast used. Older yeast, even if it’s still active, will have a longer proving time. Fresh yeast (not dried) will be faster.
Use all room temperature ingredients to ensure proving isn’t delayed.
Tart baking apples are ideal for this cake. Sweet apples are fine, but something with a bit of bite is best.
If the yeast doesn’t bloom at all after being added to the warm milk mixture, it’s dead, either from being too old or the liquid being too hot. Store your dried yeast in the refrigerator and make sure the milk is just warm to the touch, not hot, before adding the yeast.
Use either traditional or quick yeast. Since the yeast is bloomed (added to the warm milk) they can be used interchangeably in this recipe.
To use fresh yeast, it’s half a cube (21 grams) and it can be crumbled into the milk mixture at the same point in the recipe that dry yeast is added.
To make a dairy free German apple cake, use vegan butter and non-dairy milk.
The streusel topping is optional, but very common on apple cakes like this one. You can leave it off if you’re worried it might be too sweet.
Cinnamon is optional, and can be exchanged with other spices (cardamom, nutmeg, or something like apple pie spice are all great).
More German Desserts
German Apple Sheet Cake
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- Small saucepan
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Parchment paper
- Tea towel
- baking sheet
- ¾ cup full-fat milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 ¼ teaspoons dry yeast
- 2 ¾ cups white all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup white all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup softened butter
- Pinch sea salt
- 3-4 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan until just simmering.
- Add the milk to a large mixing bowl, then whisk in the sugar and butter until melted.
- Check the temperature with the tip of your finger. The mixture should be just warm to the touch. Add the yeast and stir to combine.
- Set aside for the yeast to bloom for 15 minutes. It should be visibly expanded – if not, see tips below. Once the yeast has bloomed, whisk in the egg and egg yolk.
- Add the flour, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until a shaggy dough forms, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms.
- Return the dough to the mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel. Set aside to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Once the dough has risen, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Make the streusel. Add the flour, sugar, softened butter, and salt to a mixing bowl. Use your hands to blend into a crumbly mixture, then set aside.
- Roll the dough out to a large rectangle (about 30x40cm or 12×16 in.). Place it onto the prepared baking sheet. Top in an even layer with the prepared apples.
- Top with an even layer of the streusel.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges are a dark golden and the top is a pale gold. Cool for 15 minutes on the tray before removing and slicing.
- Leftovers keep for a day or two in a sealed container, but the streusel will soften. This cake can be frozen, but it’s best fresh.