Dutch or Norwegian apple cake

Dutch or Norwegian apple cake?  I don’t know why this cake comes under both names. I have this method of making cake in a 1970’s Marks & Spencer Cakes Pastries book named as Norwegian apple cake, and the same recipe with the same measured ingredient appears in Darina Allen’s Easy Entertaining book named as Dutch apple cake.  If you google under both names the same method of making this cake turns up.  I was told this cake is not that common in the Netherlands and it resembles more of a German rührkuchen.  The famous Dutch apple dish is actually an apple pie, not an apple cake.

What makes this cake method slightly different from all other cakes is the making of a batter, a thick batter very similar to making pancakes.  Because the mixture is so runny it’s baked in an oven-proof dish and not in a cake tin as it would seep through.  The mixture is so wet it produces a moist crumb.  The layer of eating apples when cooked results in an apple gooey loveliness on the top.  It’s beautiful served warm with some cream as a dessert, but also good the next day with coffee or tea.

You can also make this cake dairy-free see here, or make with blackberries or plums as a pudding see here.


How to make apple cake

A very simple cake, the ingredients are the same as many sponge cakes except this one has quite a bit of milk added.

First start by whisking the eggs and sugar until the thick ribbon stage.

It will take anything between 7-10 minutes with an electric whisk on medium speed.

The colour of the mixture will be very pale and visibly thicker.

When lifting a spoonful of mixture and drizzle it it should flow as a thick trickle.

Bring the milk and butter near boil point.  I put mine in the microwave.  Put the mixture in a jug for easy pouring.

While whisking the mixture pour in the hot milk and butter liquid in slowly until all the liquid has been whisked in.

Sieve in the flour and baking powder.  I know it seems a drag to sieve flour but as the particles of flour fall onto the mixture they are taking in air particles which believe it or not gives the crumb an edge on lightness.

Whisk the mixture for about 20 seconds and the cake batter should be perfectly smooth.

Butter a baking dish.

Flour it.  If you’ve never done this, simple move the flour around the dish over the butter to cover then tap out any excess flour…

…like this.

Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl.  Slice the apple as thinly as possible, super thin.

The thinner they are the less they weigh and can stay on top of the cake batter, but it’s not the end of the world if they sink.

It occurred to me it would be rather nice to have some tiny cubes of apple sink into the batter with the slices on top.

Take some sugar, here I had demerara (or brown sugar) mix with half teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

And sprinkle it on top.

Bake for 25 minutes, check after 20 minutes.

If serving this as a warm dessert I wouldn’t bake it until completely dry.  I would take it out when the edges are dry but the middle is still a little moist.

If you have a blow torch you can give the top a nice glaze to finish.

If you don’t have a blow torch glaze the top by brushing melted warm apricot jam.


Dutch or Norwegian apple cake
Preheat oven to 180˚C fan. Brush the baking dish with butter and dust with flour OR line the bottom of the dish.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g sugar - granulated or superfine. (Add another 25g of sugar if liking sweeter)
  • 100g butter
  • 150g (or ml) full fat milk or single cream
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder ** see note
  • 3 apples
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon mixed together to sprinkle on top, optional.
  1. Slice the apples as thinly as you can and put them straight into the lemon juice to stop discolouration.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk on medium speed until the mixture is very pale, thick and creamy, it will take between 7-10 minutes. You know it's ready when dropping some of the mixture from a height it falls down in a thick stream as photo above shows.
  3. Bring the milk near boiling point with the butter, microwave it. Put the hot mixture in a jug to make the pouring in easier.
  4. While whisking the eggs and sugar mixture pour in the hot milk/butter liquid slowly but constantly and keep whisking until all the liquid has been incorporated.
  5. Sieve the flour and baking powder over the batter and using the electric whisk blend it in for few seconds, 20-30 seconds until it's a smooth batter again. Don't over-beat the flour as it will develop the gluten in it too much.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the baking dish and layer the slices of apple overlapping each other on top. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture and bake for 25 minutes. Check with toothpick after 20 minutes if your oven is usually quick.
I've made this cake with less baking powder than most recipes I've seen, and for this reason it's important to whisk the sugar and eggs until the thick stage I describe as it will rely on the air created by whisking and then being semi-stabilised by the hot milk cooking the egg mixture.