Drunken Apple Cake ~ Kuchen Borracho

This drunken apple cake, also known as kuchen borracho, is a unique dessert made with layers of creamy apple filling nestled between bands of tender, rum-spiked cake that has an almost custardy texture.

This drunken apple cake doesn’t quite resemble any type of apple cake of our childhood. It comprises layers of tender, thinly sliced apples surrounded by a not-too-sweet batter and is almost custard- or pudding-like in places. Tasting is believing.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Drunken Apple Cake ~ Kuchen Borracho

A decorative plate topped with a slice of drunken apple cake that is drizzled with cream.
This drunken apple cake, also known as kuchen borracho, is a unique dessert made with layers of creamy apple filling nestled between bands of tender, rum-spiked cake that has an almost custardy texture.
Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra

Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 30 mins
Total 2 hrs
10 to 12 slices
427 kcal
4.80 / 10 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Warm Bread and Honey Cake cookbook

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  • 9-inch (23-cm) or 9 1/2-inch (24-cm) spring-form pan, at least 2 3/4 inches (7 cm) high


For the filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds tart apples* (about 5 medium)
  • Generous 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pan
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 11 tablespoons (5 1/2 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • Generous 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 5 tablespoons rum (any rum will do quite nicely) or Calvados
  • 5 tablespoons cold water


Make the apple filling

  • Peel and core the apples. Cut each apple into 8 wedges and then cut each wedge lengthwise into slender slices.
  • In a bowl, combine the sugar and cream. Gently stir in the apples.

Make the batter

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter a 9-inch or 9 1/2-inch springform pan at least 2 3/4 inches high and dust it with flour, tapping out any excess.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl with an electric mixer or by hand, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the lightly beaten eggs to the butter mixture in 4 batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition.
  • Gently fold in the flour in 4 batches, adding the rum and water with the third batch. Stop mixing as soon as the last batch of flour is incorporated.
  • Scrape 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Spoon half of the apple and cream mixture evenly over the batter, leaving a 1/2-inch plain border around the edge and smoothing the slices so they're neat and level.
  • Scrape another 1/3 of the batter on top of the apples and cream and smooth the surface, spreading the batter all the way to the edge of the pan. Spoon the remaining apples and cream evenly on top of the batter, and then top with the last of the batter, smoothing it all the way to the edge of the pan, which will be quite full.
  • Bake the cake for 1 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes, then release the sides of the pan and transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool.
  • Slice and serve the cake warm or at room temperature. Your drunken apple cake will keep at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Print RecipeBuy the Warm Bread and Honey Cake cookbook

Want it? Click it.


*What You Need To Know About Selecting An Apple For This Drunken Apple Cake

To define a “type” of tart apple that’s perfect for this recipe is sort of like trying to define a particular “type” of artistic genius like Michelangelo or da Vinci. Can’t really be done in so many words. That said, some relatively common types that fall somewhere on the tartish side of appledom include Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Northern Spy, and Tydeman. Better yet, ask your local apple guy at the greenmarket—chances are you’ll end up with the perfect local variety, quite possibly something of the vintage heirloom variety. Just be mindful not to confuse “tart” with “sour.” Save the mouth-puckering Granny Smiths and Greenings for another recipe.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 427kcal (21%)Carbohydrates: 56g (19%)Protein: 5g (10%)Fat: 19g (29%)Saturated Fat: 12g (75%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 107mg (36%)Sodium: 89mg (4%)Potassium: 235mg (7%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 34g (38%)Vitamin A: 699IU (14%)Vitamin C: 3mg (4%)Calcium: 72mg (7%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Easy to make, even easier to love, this kuchen has everything going for it—looks, taste, ease of preparation. The apples bake up into a really flavorful filling and the surrounding cake is moist inside and crispy good on the top. The rum gives it a very subtle boost. Licking the bowl is a plus for this one!

This could easily serve 10 to 12 people if you hide the cake after you serve it, otherwise guests will attack whatever is left and eat it before you can say Johnny Appleseed.

This drunken apple cake is a winner! it is such a simple recipe yet produces a dessert that looks like it comes right from the bakery and tastes wonderful. It’s not too sweet and has a nice texture from the cream. This cake is perfect for autumn and will most definitely have a place on my dessert table at Thanksgiving.

I only had a 9 1/2-inch springform pan and I was glad I used it because I needed the extra room for the apples.

Originally published October 21, 2020


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  1. Maybe my apples were too big but after slicing them as directed and layering them, there was no creamy custardy texture to the apples when eating the cake. All instructions were followed to the letter except the substitute of apple juice for rum.

    After 90 minutes of baking and the dry skewer test, all seemed well. Everyone ate their dessert (except me, I was the pumpkin pie hold out) Not a comment was uttered during the apple cake eating. My SO broke the news after everyone had left that the cake was good but the apples were not cooked enough. I may try it again with my mandoline some day for paper thin slices.

    1. Anne L, what type of apple did you use? I made this cake for the first time recently and I had the same experience as you :-(. BUT, I think the choice of which apples to use might be critical in this recipe. I made the mistake of using Granny Smiths (against LC’s recommendation!). I think no matter how thin you slice it (mine were about 1/8 inch thick), Granny Smith apples would still be undercooked at 325°F. However, I searched the web and found that there may be a way around this. In Chris Kimball’s (America’s Test Kitchen) French Apple Cake recipe, he uses Granny Smith apples but recommends microwaving them before baking. Note that his cake is also baked at 325°F for almost the same amount of time (1 1/4 hours) as the Drunken Apple Cake (1 1/2 hours). I might try this approach next time or just stick with LC’s recommended apple varieties.

      1. Hi, John. Well, I won’t shake my finger at you because you seem like a nice guy and you did your homework! Yes, Granny Smith apples won’t work well here because they’re too tart and too firm. The other types of apples we mentioned break down faster. The method that Kimball offers is great because it does soften the apples–but you’ll still be left with apples that are properly cooked in a cake that’s a bit too tart.

        1. Ok, David. Yes, I should try to use other less tart apples. I’ve been so used to Granny Smiths in most if not all of my baking adventures that now I feel I’m missing out on other delicious ones which I normally reserve only for eating.

          1. I’m with you, John. I remember when I was taking a baking course a million years ago, we were instructed to use Golden Delicious for some tart, or some such. I was gobsmacked. My Dad had several trees of Goldens and they were for eating not for baking. But they turned out a very tender, sweet dessert. I still lean toward tart apples, but I always listen when an author specifies a certain type. Easier in the end.

          2. 5 stars
            Wow, I can’t believe it’s been this long since I last tried this recipe. This time, it turned out great, even without the booze! I used the same amount of cream in place of the rum since I had extra cream although I guess water might have been fine. I also tried to compensate for the rum flavor by adding some cinnamon and nutmeg to the apples. Although, after reading the comments about the rum flavor not very noticeable, I guess no added spice might just be okay. I use golden delicious also, as suggested. I couldn’t resist to try the cake after cooling for 20-30 minutes. The apples were cooked through and there was indeed a pudding like texture in some parts of the cake. So good! Thanks again for sharing this recipe!

  2. This was a delightful cake, we all just loved it. It was so nice to eat an apple dessert without the crutch of a cinnamon or nutmeg flavor. Not that I dislike either one, but it was so nice to actually taste the bright natural flavor of the Jonagolds that I used and the simple sweet little cake. Tossing the apples with cream and sugar was brilliant. It gave a nice creamy custard mouthfeel to the apples in the cake yet the apples still maintained their integrity. The batter was a little difficult to spread on the first layer because there is so little of it. I put the balance in a pastry bag and wound it around in a spiraling circle to make it easier to spread over the apples in the other two layers. It worked well. Thanks for this! The family wants it again!

    1. Kiran, welcome. I think you’ll find LC is a great place to stop by, coffee in hand, and surf for a recipe or piece of writing you can sink your teeth into. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

      And I certainly hope our other LC readers will welcome our newest reader (a-hem!).

      1. Yes indeed -welcome to the party! We are so glad that you decided to stop by and hope that you give some of these recipes a try. I can attest to the fact that this cake is a real winner – easy and fun to make and eat!
        We hope you let us know how you liked it!

    2. Kiran, we hope this is just the first of many recipes we’ll be able to tempt you with! Welcome to the Leite’s Culinaria family. We’re glad you stopped by and look forward to seeing you in our comment forum again.

  3. Hi. This looks amazing, but I have to say that I strongly dislike any kind of alcohol flavor in my desserts–just a taste thing. Do you think this would work as well without the rum? Can you taste the rum? Any ideas for substitutions? I might be okay with a liqueur like Calvados.

    1. Hi Susan, I think this would be wonderful with Calvados substituted for the rum. Please let us know how it turns out.

      Beth Price
      Director of Recipe Testing

      1. I was wondering about Calvados, too, so I made it last night. (It took me 3 years to find this recipe!) And, yes! Cake meets pudding meets a snifter of Calva. Lovely. My cross section didn’t look as apple packed as the recipe pic though…more cake than apple. I might experiment with three layers of apple next time. But what a gorgeous dessert. Or…even breakfast : )

      2. Alas, Beth, the Calvados experiment will have to wait–my husband persuaded to go ahead and use the rum, and it’s true, we barely tasted it. Cake was delicious as presented here!

        I wish I’d read that excellent pastry bag trick below before I made it. A warning: This is NOT a cake to make in a hurry before a dinner party! I found myself frantically trying to spread the batter with my fingers. So what I served didn’t look quite as elegant as the picture, but no one knew, and everyone loved it.

    2. Hi Susan. I’ve made this cake, and to tell the truth, you really don’t have that much of a rum taste, just the “spirit” of it—haha. Really, though, it is just an added level of flavor, nothing overbearing. If you are a real rum fan, you would probably complain that you couldn’t taste it all that much. My apples were still walking straight when they came out of the pan. Now Tipsy Squire might be another story altogether!! Karen D.

  4. I just made this cake. I had to! I am so glad I did. My husband, my 11 year old and I liked it a lot. I love your site! Thanks.

    1. You’re very welcome, Robin! We feel the same about the cake—just too perfect for this time of year to pass by without sharing. And glad you enjoy the site. Looking forward to hearing about other recipes that you find equally compelling.

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