German Holiday Breakfast Cake

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I wanted to share this special recipe because it is perfect for holiday entertaining. I am lucky enough to get the culinary benefits of having an Austrian-German sharing my kitchen; this is a recipe that he developed and perfected over time. I love to bake delicious goods over the course of the few days when company is around. This cake is reminiscent of upside-down cake, but it is less work. I love warm fruit cakes that are steaming from the heat of the oven, and I love the way the whipped cream melts all over the cake. We also pour local maple syrup over the cake from time to time. I always find a way to sneak that liquid gold into my food!

During the holidays we all love a quick, easy, and delicious breakfast cake that is full of the taste of the season. Your kitchen will be filled the scent of sugar, cinnamon, and apples. This is a family favourite and it serves 12, so it is perfect for a large group. This cake is delicious at room temperature, and it warms up perfectly the next day.

Feel free to substitute the fruit if you like — around the holidays try pineapple or pears. Add a few maraschino cherries for additional color.


For the apple-walnut topping:

• 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
• 1/3 cup butter
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
• 4-5 large apples, peeled and cut into chunks or slices
• juice of one medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons
• 3 tablespoons butter

For the batter:

• 1 cup all purpose flour
• 1 cup buttermilk or milk soured with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• pinch of salt
• 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
• 3 tablespoons melted butter
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla


1. In a large (10 or 12 inch) cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast the nuts and then remove them from the skillet.

2. If you are not using buttermilk: Combine milk with lemon juice in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.

3. Cook the fruit over medium heat — place the butter in the pan and let it melt, then add the sugar, and then the apples, cinnamon, and the lemon juice. Let the apples soften for about 5 minutes. Remove the cooked apple mixture from the pan and set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. To make the batter, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg, vanilla, and butter into buttermilk or “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.

6. Wipe the skillet clean, then and add 3 tablespoons butter and let it melt. (This step prevents the apples from sticking.) Add the apples, sprinkle with the toasted nuts, and then add the batter.

7. Bake for about 20 minutes. The top will be golden-brown, and a cake tester will come out clean.

8. Let the cake cool for about 2-3 minutes in the pan and then invert the cake onto a round serving platter. Dust with icing sugar.