Several years ago I stopped in to see my friend cookbook dealer Bonnie Slotnick at her Greenwich Village shop, and found this cake and its maker, Dirk-Jan Zonneveld, sitting on the floor. He was busy cutting thick wedges of Appelgebak for them to taste, and fortunately I was immediately included, and then given the recipe. This is a typically homey cake, nothing fancy, but very good, indeed, and an excellent example of Dutch baking at its best. Dirk-Jan comes from Lisse in the tulip-growing area between Haarlem and Leyden, to which this cake is native.

One 10-inch cake, about 12 servings


2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling on the apples

3 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, quartered, and cored

Glaze 1/2 cup apricot preserves 2 tablespoons water

One 10-inch round pan, 2 inches deep, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of buttered parchment

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the butter and 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle on medium speed until soft and light, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Beat in 1 egg until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest.
  5. Beat in about a third of the flour mixture until smooth, and then beat in another egg.
  6. Beat in another third of the flour mixture and then beat in the remaining egg.
  7. Stop and scrape the bowl and paddle, and then beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange 11 of the apple quarters, core side down, on the batter, in a circle near the edges of the pan. Place the last apple quarter in the center of the batter. Sprinkle the apples with the 2 tablespoons sugar.
  9. Bake the cake for until the apples have softened, about 1 hour. The batter will definitely be baked through in this amount of time.
  10. Cool the cake on a rack in the pan, then unmold it onto another rack and lift away the first rack and replace it with a platter. Invert the cake again and lift off the top rack.
  11. For the apricot glaze, stir the preserves and water together in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the glaze comes to a simmer. Strain the glaze into another pan and place it back on the heat. Allow the glaze to reduce until it is slightly sticky and no longer watery, about 2 minutes.
  12. Immediately paint the hot glaze onto the apple quarters, using a brush. Let the glaze cool and set before serving the cake.

Serving: Cut the cake into wedges. A little whipped cream would be good with this cake.

Storage: Keep the cake under a dome or loosely covered with plastic wrap at room temperature. For longer storage, wrap and refrigerate the cake before applying the glaze. Bring the cake to room temperature and paint the apples with the glaze before serving.