With sunken apples cut like hasselback potatoes, the Thurgauer Apfelkuchen has an eye-catching appearance. This special apple cake, as its name indicates, comes from the Swiss canton of Thurgau.
They say that one in every three apples in Switzerland was grown in Thurgau. In Roggwil, a private association maintains an orchard with 160 varieties of apple trees to help promote and preserve the diversity of Switzerland’s most popular fruit. Each year, a new Thurgauer Apfelkönigin (Apple queen) is crowned at the local fair. The Apple Trail in Altnau takes visitors along a scenic path that includes informational signs about the canton’s beloved apples. If you want to learn about Swiss apples, Thurgau would be a good place to visit.
Thurgauer Apfelkuchen recipes have many different variations. A similar cake apparently exists in Zürich, known as the Zürcher Pfarrhaustorte. For my apple cake recipe, I’ve substituted the traditional butter with extra virgin olive oil — the inspiration for which comes from a recipe by cookbook author Nick Malgieri. Also, to make this recipe even easier, I don’t separate the eggs. It’s a nice cake for breakfast or an afternoon snack, and I think it might even taste better the day after you make it.
Recipe: Thurgauer Apfelkuchen
- 3 large eggs
- 250 g sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 100 g extra virgin olive oil
- 350 g white flour (type 550)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 250 ml milk
- 3-4 apples, peeled, cored and halved
- juice of one lemon (optional)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon water (or a fruit brandy, such as Kirsch)
- Prepare a springform pan with a diameter of 24 cm (9.5 inches). Fill the bottom of the pan with round piece of parchment paper. Then, grease the pan with olive oil.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture lightens in color and becomes a bit frothy. Stir in the lemon zest. Then, pour in the olive oil in a thin ribbon while stirring until it becomes well-incorporated. Set aside.
- Separately, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In three batches, add the flour mixture and milk to the large bowl with the egg and sugar mixture. Gently fold in these ingredients until the batter has a smooth, even texture. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan.
- Peel the apples, slice in half and remove their cores. Then, with a very sharp knife, create a series of deep cuts across the outside of the apple, without cutting the apple all the way through. Please note: If you have apples that brown quickly, coat the apple with lemon juice before making these cuts.
- Gently place the apple halves core-side down on top of the cake batter — put one in the middle and then surround it with the remaining halves.
- Place the pan in an oven preheated to 200°C / 400°F. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top of the cake has turned golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and place on a wire rack. Warm the honey and whisk it together with 1 teaspoon of water (or fruit brandy). Brush the honey mixture over the top and sides of the cake.