Since 2010 this date has been designated as Tag des deutschen Apfels (German Apples Day) in Germany, a campaign started by the National Association of Fruit and Vegetables Producers as a part of a more general campaign: “Germany – My Garden” to raise awareness of farm products that are locally grown. The main objective of German Apples Day is to draw public attention to apples and make them more popular across the country. January might seem like an odd month to celebrate apples given that in Germany at this time of year apple trees are bare. But the good thing about apples is that they keep well over the winter months if they are stored at cool temperatures.
The German apple growing area was about 32,000 hectares (79,000 acres) in 2012, a little less than in 2007, although the number of apple trees increased by about 6% to about 72 million. Roughly 87% of the apples are sold fresh for eating and cooking. The remaining 13% are processed. The most popular varieties Elstar, Jonagold, Janagored, and Braeburn. All told, though, there are between 3,000 and 5,000 varieties of apples grown in Germany, but some of the heirloom varieties are becoming quite rare. The great proliferation of varieties stems from historical needs. Some were used for wine and cider, some for cooking, some for long storage and so forth, and different varieties were especially well suited for specific locations. The apple is still by far the most popular fruit in Germany but there is concern that popularity is waning and the diversity of choices is decreasing.
German Apples Day is celebrated by giving out hundreds of thousands of apples in major cities in Germany. Every year locally grown apples are distributed to schools and businesses, and even to passers-by in the streets for free.
Today is a good day to celebrate apples by using them in cooking. In past posts I have given recipes for apple pancakes, apple pie, apple strudel, apple crumble etc. Today it seems fitting to give a recipe for German apple cake, a very moist cake loaded with apples.
German Apple Cake
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
4 cups peeled, cored and diced apples
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Grease and flour one 9″x 13″ cake pan.
In a mixing bowl beat the oil and eggs with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat well.
Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon together in a bowl. Slowly add this mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the apples by hand using a wooden spoon.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45 minutes or until cake a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool a little on a wire rack, then turn it out on to a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.