A deliciously easy Dutch Apple Cake that combines the sweetness of fresh apples with a flaky cinnamon topping and a drizzle of sweet honey.
A brief history of Dutch Cuisine
I hope I’m not being controversial when I say Dutch food has a reputation of being bland. The Dutch were famous for being major producers of butter and cheese, until the 15th century, before their cuisine imbibed elements from colonialists and neighbors like Arab, France and Turkey. Today, Dutch cuisine is much more diverse and a slow revolution of sorts is gaining momentum – literally everyone knows about Stroopwaffels, Boterkoek or Space Cakes.
What is a Dutch Apple Cake
My Dutch Apple Cake recipe is an ode to the utilitarian aspect of Dutch cooking style. This recipe doesn’t have the overt light and fluffy feeling of a traditional cake – it’s got more punch and packs in a lot of the apple flavors. The batter is actually quite stiff like shortbread and doesn’t require extensive kneading.
How to make Dutch Apple Cake
- Mixing Bowls – A mixing bowl is quite necessary for making this dish. I have a Pyrex mixing bowl set that I use for pretty much all my baking needs. The great part about it is they are very durable (one even survived a fall from a few feet).
- A Hand Mixer – The most important step in this recipe is actually the creaming of the butter. I creamed my butter using a whisk while testing this recipe and it ended up being too dense and gluey.
- Shallow Springform Pan or Pie Plate – I would definitely suggest using a shallow springform pan or pie baking dish. I used a cake mold in my first try and let’s just say it didn’t end up well. In my second attempt, I used a 9.5-inch round pie dish made by Anchor Hocking which is only 1.75 inches deep.
- The most important ingredient that will make or break your dish is the Apples, obviously. According to the Washington Apple Commission; red apples like Honeycrisp, Fuji or Gala usually are sweeter than green apples and are ideal for baking.
- The testers at Epicurious performed a test not so long ago and they suggest Arrowhead Mills is the best flour for baking. Having said that, I do understand that this product of flour may not be widely available. In my opinion, the brand of your All-Purpose Flour doesn’t matter but the composition or hard vs soft wheat and also protein content will have an impact on your final product. As much as you can do try to not use bleached flour.
- The easiest way to calculate protein content is by dividing the grams of protein by the grams in a serving and multiply by 100. I like to use flour brands that have a protein percentage level in the 8% to 11.5%.
- The brand of butter you use doesn’t matter either, just make sure that it is softened at room temperature before creaming it. This has an impact on the doughiness of the batter.
- I like to start with two mixing bowls and measuring spoons whenever I make any recipe. For most baking dishes, it is best to start with the dry ingredients and then add in the wet ingredients.
- Start by adding the butter and sugar to a medium sized bowl. Then cream the mixture using a hand mixer or a stiff wooden spoon. Beat the butter mixture for about 2 minutes until it is pale yellow in color and looks fluffy.
PRO TIP: Use butter softened at room temperature for best baking results. To get the perfect consistency and fluffiness, leave butter out on the counter for around 1 hour prior to beginning your recipe.
- Once the butter and sugar mixture are creamed, add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and mix it with a fork or spatula until it is well blended.
- Add the eggs and milk to the mixture. Your batter will actually start to feel quite stiff (similar to bread dough).
- Gently massage the batter to the shallow pie dish. I like to use the palm of my hand to massage the dough until it is even in the pan and not thicker in the center.
- Peel your apples and cut into ½ inch slices (or thereabouts) and place on your batter in whichever pattern you like.
- You’re almost done with the dutch apple cake! I sprinkle some cinnamon before baking and then some after baking. The last step is to drizzle honey on the baked dish before serving.
You can substitute the all-purpose flour with self-rising flour or wheat flour. To make the dish slightly healthier, you can also substitute sugar with any sugar free sweetener of your choice.
If you only have salted butter, then skip adding the salt.
Dutch Apple Cake is best served warm. You can have it plain or serve it with a whipped cream topping or vanilla ice cream of your choice.
I left the Dutch Apple Cake outside for a week and it didn’t affect the quality or taste. I must admit that I made this during the Fall/Winter season while the daytime temperatures are in the mid-60s (Fahrenheit). If you live in a warmer region or if you’re making this in the summer, I suggest covering it with plastic wrap and leaving it in the fridge.
If you’re storing it in the fridge, I would recommend consuming it within 4-5 days because lot of moisture gets locked in the dish while in the fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Red apples are best suited for apple cake. Any variety like Gala, Fuji or Honeycrisp have the desired sweetness and are preferred for baking.
It is based on personal preference. Unpeeled apples will add some texture and color to your dish while peeled apples will absorb the other flavors and promote overall consistency.
You can use a fork of a strong wooden spoon instead of a hand mixer to achieve the same results.
The most crucial step in any baking recipe is the creaming of the butter. If your butter mixture starts to look greasy, then your cake will end up stiffer than required.
Dutch Apple Cake
- Mixing Bowls
- Shallow Pie Dish
- Hand Mixer (optional)
- ½ cup Butter, Unsalted
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Eggs
- 2 ½ tbsp Milk
- 2 Red Apples ,Honeycrisp
- ½ tsp Honey
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9.5inch pie dish (or a shallow springform pan) and set aside.
- Add the butter and sugar to a medium sized mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar mixture.
- Add the other dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) to the creamed butter mixture and mix using a whisk.
- Add the eggs and milk to the batter and mix well.
- The batter is actually quite stiff and not the type that can be poured into the pie dish. Spread the stiff batter evenly over the pie dish.
- Cover the batter with apple slices (1/2inch slices) in a single layer of your desired pattern. Bake the dish for 45 minutes.
- Let the pie dish cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle cinnamon and honey over the cooked cake.
- Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
- Red apples are best suited for this dish. You can use Gala, Fuji or other varieties local to your region if you don’t have honey crisp apples.
- Use butter softened at room temperature. Also make sure you don’t over cream the butter – the cake will end up being dense and stiff if you do.
- This recipe is more closer to a shortbread consistency than a traditional cake.
- Skip the salt if you’re using salted butter.