Apple Kuchen In Disguise

German grandmothers mixing up sweet yeast dough to form coffee cakes filled with fresh fruit of the season and rich, creamy custard made with real cream have been passing along the kuchen tradition for generations.

If authentic kuchen, which is a German word for “cake,” has been a common thread weaving through your family for decades, you probably won’t appreciate this recipe. The only kuchen my family eats comes to our table as a gift from an expert peach kuchen-maker who works with my husband.

The simplicity of this Quick Apple Kuchen recipe caught my attention as I browsed through an old cookbook I inherited from my mom’s extensive library. The book is so old, it refers to margarine as oleo. Up until 1952, U.S. law required margarine producers to label their product “oleomargarine.” But, the book is not so old that bakers couldn’t find cake mix in their grocery store.

Yes. Cake mix. Kuchen made of cake mix will be considered sacrilegious to many. Since I don’t have a recipe that’s been handed down through the ages, I thought it was worth a try.

It took minutes to combine dry yellow cake mix with butter and flakes of coconut to form a crust. While the crust bakes alone, a rich mixture of sour cream, eggs, sugar and cinnamon gets mixed together. Poured over apple slices that have been arranged over a slightly baked crust, the lightly sweet and creamy mixture bakes to a pudding-like consistency.

My kuchen-clueless family devoured the German imposter. They especially loved the crust that became crunchy with a slight caramelized flavor. The filling of apples and custard is not too sweet with just enough cinnamon to remind you it’s autumn.

If you don’t know better, you’ll love this German dessert in disguise. If you do know better, just give it a try. And call it Quick and Delicious Apple Dessert.

If you’re in the mood for baking with apples, check out the Caramel Apple Bundt Cake in

my column this week. A click here will take you right to that


Quick Apple Kuchen

(Slightly adapted from a recipe in “Thou Preparest a Table,” a compilation of recipes from Pekin United Methodist Youth Fellowship in Pekin, New York)
  • 1 (18.25-ounce) yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1 1/4 pounds apples, peeled and sliced, about 3 cups of slices
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

Blend dry cake mix and butter together with pastry blender or knives, just as you would do for pie crust. Use clean fingers to work in coconut. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, beat egg, sugar and cinnamon together until well blended. Add sour cream and blend.

Remove crust from oven. Arrange apple slices in a single layer over the top, covering the crust. Pour sour cream mixture over the apples. Return to oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until crust is golden and apples are fork-tender. Remove kuchen from oven and allow to cool. Serve slightly warm, chilled, or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Makes 8 very generous servings for hardy kuchen-loving appetites or 12 lady-like servings appropriate for a luncheon dessert or 16 something-sweet-sized servings that would be appreciated at a brunch.

9 thoughts on “Apple Kuchen In Disguise

    • This is similar to the fast kind of kuchen which doesn’t have a yeast base for the bread part. Sounds great to use a cake mix. Saves time. Filling is authentic.

  1. Pingback: Apple, Nutmeg, and Pumpkin Cakes… and Recipe Roundup | The Heavy Table - Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog

  2. What would happen if the coconut was left out? I really dislike coconut. Otherwise, it sounds excellent!

    • Marilyn, it will be delicious with or without the coconut. I know you are not alone in your dislike for coconut. Enjoy the apple kuchen. Sue

  3. I am going to make the Caramel Apple Cake-but my family does not like Coconut can I substitute something else or just leave it out? Thanks

  4. Once again – or I should say ‘twice again’ your recipes have been a hit with our family.
    The Quick Apple Kuchen went fast at an evening meeting for church, and the Caramel Apple Bundt Cake is getting rave reviews as it is delivered to neighbors. Thank you.
    I thought I had coconut, but didn’t – so made it without and they were both great.
    Saved the Buttermilk Whip recipe, but I am a whipped cream lover, so haven’t ventured there yet. For busy times, I make stabilized whipped cream, since it doesn’t separate, and can be done earlier in the day.
    I think you would enjoy a stop at the Miracle Mansion in Wadena, if you haven’t been there yet. Thanks again for the wonderful recipes!!

    • Thank you for your note, Margaret. It’s so nice to hear from people who are enjoying recipes I share.
      I visited Miracle Mansion for the first time last month. Such an interesting place. I came out with a big elephant ear that tasted so sweet and chewy — I totally enjoyed it.

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