Czech Apple Cake, Inspired by the Opera

czech apple cake

A few weeks ago, I spent my Thursday night watching a video-recorded opera with about 40 new senior citizen friends. My husband’s opera company has a relationship with several retirement homes where they regularly help host events – and I’ve started regularly attending them! Laughing at their stories and hearing them brag about their grandchildren brings back fond memories of my dear friends in Helena. Different city, similar stories…

After the screening, we sat down to a three course meal inspired by the featured opera of the evening: The Bartered Bride, a Czech classic. The appetizer and main course were both good, but the dessert was the star of the show. It was a cake comprised almost entirely of thin layers of apples stacked on top of each, surrounded by just enough cake batter to keep everything together. It was kind of like an apple pie disguised as a cake.

As soon as I got home, I knew I wanted to recreate this recipe. I searched the internet for Czech or Eastern European apple cake recipes, but none were what I was looking for. Finely, I stumbled on this recipe, from Dorie Greenspan. The recipe was French, but looked very similar. I tested it out and modified it slightly to better fit the look and flavor profile of the Czech version. The flavors are simple, with apples as the clear star of the show. It’s the perfect dessert to balance out a rich dinner or for a family meal.

Czech Apple Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rum extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
A few dashes of cinnamon


Czech Apple Cake - ingredients

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and gather your goodies. Looking at this picture, I just realized I forgot to capture the cinnamon. Don’t forget the cinnamon.


Czech Apple Cake - apples cut into chunks

Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into crescents about 1/2 inch thick. You can also chunk the apples if you’d like.


Czech Apple Cake - mixing the ingredients

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Pour in both types of sugar and whisk to incorporate. Add in the vanilla and the rum extract. Whisk in half the flour mixture, then add half the melted butter, mixing gently to incorporate. Repeat. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the apples until they’re thoroughly coated with batter.


Czech Apple Cake - baked in pan

Pour into a buttered round cake pan, using the spatula to even things out. With cakes, I also like to line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper to make sure removal is easy peasy. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for about 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then run a knife around the edges of the cake.


czech apple cake

Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before removing it from the pan. To remove, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, invert it onto a rack, and turn the cake over onto a serving dish. Serve with vanilla ice cream for dessert or with vanilla yogurt for breakfast.


Since this cake is really like a pie in disguise, feel free to make it this weekend in celebration of Pi Day. Or make this AND a traditional pie. Nom nom nom.


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