Polish apple cake Fale Dunaju

Fale Dunaju is a Polish apple cake with cocoa. It is a very soft coffee cake where the key flavours are given by the baked apples and unsweetened cocoa. Cut through it and you’ll see how special this cake is as each slice displays a beautiful wavy pattern. It’s what gives it its name, which translates as waves of the Danube cake.

Surprise your guests with a simple apple cake recipe from the Polish tradition: Fale Dunaju, a Polish apple cake with a wonderful wavy pattern.

Waves of the Danube cake

Fale Dunaju is a fantastic apple cake. The addition of cocoa to apple cake makes it incredibly tasty, and the texture is firm but soft, which makes Fale Dunaju an excellent cake to enjoy with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. But this Polish apple cake’s strongest asset is definitely its appearance. Every slice displays a beautiful wavy pattern. This is achieved by pressing sliced apples through the 2 layers that make up this cake. The cake will naturally rise as it bakes, but the weight of the apples will prevent it from rising uniformly. This creates the waves of the Danube.

Slice of Fale Dunaju cake displaying the wavy pattern.

 

Flowing through various cities such as Budapest and Vienna, the Danube is the second-longest river in Europe. The river does not flow through Poland, though. In fact, despite having a Polish name and being a well established Polish apple cake recipe, Fale Dunaju derives from a German recipe, Donauwelle. The German name means exactly the same thing, waves of the Danube. The apple cake recipe most likely made its way across Poland when part of it belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The main difference between Donauwelle and Fale Dunaju is the fruit used to create the wavy pattern. The Austrian-German version has sour cherries, while the Polish cake uses apples. The variation was likely simply caused by produce availability. Poland is the largest producer of apples in Europe, and the 4th in the world (as of 2017). Donauwelle is also traditionally topped with buttercream, while I have often encountered the Polish version just topped with sugar.

Apple juice and bison grass vodka make up Poland’s most renown cocktail.

fale dunaju polish apple cake

Fale Dunaju ingredients

To make this Polish apple cake with cocoa you will need:

  • Room temperature margarine
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Apples
  • Coarse cane sugar for topping

You don’t need to use margarine unless you wantto keep this cake dairy free. If I don’t have margarine around I will use butter, they both work great. The reason I’m listing margarine here is because I am following my grandma’s recipe, and that was her fat of choice for baking.

Here’s another Polish dessert with apples: apple rice pudding!

fale dunaju polish apple cake

Serve this chocolate apple cake with a scoop of homemade hazelnut ice cream!

How to make this Polish apple cake

  • Peel and slice the apples, and set aside. They may slightly brown as they sit, but this will in no way affect the final product.
  • Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the whites to soft peaks. While mixing, add a little sugar, then set aside.
  • In another bowl, cream the margarine with the rest of the sugar. Add the yolks, one at a time.
  • Sift the baking powder and half of the flour into the margarine mixture and fold in by hand using a spatula. Once incorporated, fold in the second half of the flour. The batter should be rather firm.
  • Gently fold in the egg whites making sure not to knock too much air out of them. This will make the batter runnier and fluffier.
  • Pour half of the batter into a 24-cm round cake pan and spread it all over the bottom, making an even layer.
  • Sift the cocoa powder into the rest of the batter and fold in. Spread cocoa batter all over the other batter layer.
  • Press apple slices into the batter, making sure to pierce right through both layers so that the fruits touch the bottom of the pan.
  • Sprinkle the cane sugar all over the cake top. Bake the cake at 180°C (360°F) for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Avoid testing near an apple slice as the cake might be more moist there.

Chocolate apple cake on a wooden round tray.

More Polish recipes

Make a Polish-themed dinner and serve this cake as dessert! Here are some Polish recipes to warm up a lovely fall/winter dinner!

  • Start off with a bowl of Pomidorowa, Polish tomato soup. Very often soup is served as a starter in Poland, to fill up the empty stomach with something warm and comforting before the main dish.
  • Continue with these delicious chicken livers with onions – serve them with a slice of sourdough bread to fully appreciate the buttery main.
  • Add a warm drink on the side, and Polish mulled beer is just the perfect choice.

In the mood for more cake? Make sure to try this Polish honey semolina cake, too! That is actually my favourite Polish cake!

Do you like Polish or Eastern European cuisine? Let me know in the comments! And of you want more inspiration on lovely Eastern European food, go check out my posts on where to eat Polish in Krakow as well as what we saw and what we ate two days in Vilnius.

This recipe was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated in October 2020.

Polish apple cake "Fale Dunaju"

A soft apple and cocoa cake that displays a lovely wave pattern when sliced. Inspired by the German cake Donauwelle, the Polish recipe calls for apples instead of cherries.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Polish
Keyword coffee cake, german cake, polish apple cake, pound cake, waves of the danube
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 portions
Calories 353 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

  • 250 g margarine (room temperature)
  • 200 g sugar
  • 5 eggs (room temperature)
  • 300 g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 apples
  • 1 tbsp coarse cane sugar

Instructions

  1. Peel and slice the apples, and set aside. Don't worry if they slightly brown as they sit. This will not be a problem once the apples get cooked in the cake.

  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the whites to soft peaks. While mixing, add a little sugar, then set aside. 

  3. In another bowl, cream the margarine with the rest of the sugar. Add the yolks, one at a time.

  4. Sift the baking powder and half of the flour into the margarine mixture and fold in by hand using a spatula. Once incorporated, fold in the second half of the flour. The batter should be rather firm.

  5. Gently fold in the egg whites making sure not to knock too much air out of them. This will make the batter runnier and fluffier.

  6. Pour half of the batter into a 24-cm round cake pan and spread it all over the bottom, making an even layer.

  7. Sift the cocoa powder into the rest of the batter and fold in. Spread cocoa batter all over the other batter layer in the baking pan.

  8. Press apple slices into the batter, making sure to pierce right through both layers so that the fruits touch the bottom of the pan. 

  9. Sprinkle the cane sugar all over the cake top.

  10. Bake the cake at 180°C (360°F) for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Avoid testing near an apple slice as the cake might be more moist there.

Nutrition Facts
Polish apple cake "Fale Dunaju"
Amount Per Serving
Calories 353 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 68mg23%
Sodium 305mg13%
Potassium 107mg3%
Carbohydrates 42g14%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 21g23%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 861IU17%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 68mg7%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

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38 Comments

    1. Eva November 19, 2015 at 18:51

      Thank you! 🙂

      Reply
  1. Red Velvet Snow November 19, 2015 at 19:17

    Looks so so good! And pretty too! I agree wiht Lynz 🙂

    Reply
    1. Eva November 19, 2015 at 20:03

      Family recipes never let you down 😀 Thanks!!

      Reply
    1. Eva November 21, 2015 at 19:36

      Thank you very much! It really tastes great, you should try it!

      Reply
  2. Anna November 19, 2015 at 21:48

    Eva, this is such a lovely family recipe, and I love the beautiful pattern on top of the cake! I have missed your posts very much and was so happy to see that you had posted today! However, I completely understand — life can become very busy and time can fly by so quickly!

    Reply
    1. Eva November 21, 2015 at 19:37

      I was feeling really sorry to be away from the blog because it had become a routine I was enjoying a lot, but I was so busy I completely lost track of time – November is almost over? ùHow did that happen?! I’ll try to get back to a little more regular blogging now!

      Reply
      1. Anna November 22, 2015 at 00:32

        I completely understand — it seems the last few months have flown by very quickly! It’s wonderful to hear from you again, Eva!

        Reply
  3. Rowena November 20, 2015 at 10:04

    I could stare at these cake photos for hours….WOW!

    Reply
    1. Eva November 21, 2015 at 19:38

      Thanks a lot! I tried to include some other objects in the pictures, not only cake-related, and I like how they fit in the photos 🙂

      Reply
  4. Karoline November 22, 2015 at 11:44

    Looks delicious! I’m definitely going to try that soon. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Eva November 22, 2015 at 23:58

      Please do! It has a wonderful soft texture 🙂

      Reply
    1. Eva November 23, 2015 at 18:46

      Thanks Jessica!! ^^ And I totally agree, you never ever ever go wrong with family recipes 🙂

      Reply
  5. Dawn September 10, 2018 at 14:05

    5 stars
    I’ve never heard of this type of cake before, but would love to try because it looks delicious! Love the chocolate and apple pairing here. Bet it smells AMAZING as it bakes 🙂

    Reply
    1. Eva September 10, 2018 at 14:30

      YES! It fills the kitchen with a wonderful apple and cocoa scent. The only thing that beats that smell is the flavour of the cake when you finally get to taste it 😀

      Reply
  6. Aditi Bahl September 14, 2018 at 10:22

    5 stars
    this one won my heart totally. I just love the top. I have never tried a polish recipe before. I guess what best other than an apple cake.

    Reply
    1. Eva September 14, 2018 at 19:43

      I think every place has a traditional recipe for apple cake or pie, or apple something (I’m thinking strudel). Glad I had this chance to introduce you to a Polish recipe!!

      Reply
  7. Julie September 14, 2018 at 19:38

    I generally don’t think about pairing chocolate with apples, but this cake has such a striking, beautiful appearance. I love the waves!

    Reply
    1. Eva September 14, 2018 at 19:42

      Once I just ditched the apples and used pears (that’s what I had). I also couldn’t care less about the wavy pattern and just went all chocolate (because chocolate and pear is heaven). It was divine! So if you think that you would like it better like this, I’d say go for pears!

      Reply
  8. Dominique | Perchance to Cook September 14, 2018 at 19:52

    I love the idea to add cocoa powder to an apple cake. I’ve never tried that before but the flavor combination sounds delicious. Can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
    1. Eva September 14, 2018 at 20:03

      It is quite peculiar to have cocoa powderin an apple cake recipe, I agree. I hope you enjoy!

      Reply
  9. Marisa Franca September 14, 2018 at 20:36

    5 stars
    It certainly is a lovely recipe. Don’t you just love traditional recipes passed down in a family. I wish I would have known my Italian grandparents but they died when my parents were young. There is a decided German influence in our Italian food because of where we lived. I’d love to have a taste of your apple cake.

    Reply
    1. Eva September 15, 2018 at 17:06

      I am guessing your roots are in the Trentino Alto Adige region then, if you speak of German influences in your food? Italian food is much more varied than what people tend to know. I am from one of the regions that border with France and we do share something of our food tradition with the French of the region just across the Alps. My husband is from the other side of northern Italy and his food is heavily influenced by the Balkans and by Austria! It’s amazing how rich a food heritage can be!

      Reply
  10. Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness September 16, 2018 at 15:49

    5 stars
    I love fall just because it is apple season!! This cake looks like the perfect recipe to make with all of the apples I am going to be buying!

    Reply
    1. Eva September 16, 2018 at 17:36

      Fantastic! I’m glad I helped you plan for an apple recipe now that it’s the perfect time for that kind of baking!

      Reply
  11. Daniela September 16, 2018 at 18:58

    5 stars
    This cake is gorgeous! It certainly lives up to its name. I would love to make it for a fall harvest celebration.

    Reply
    1. Eva September 16, 2018 at 19:02

      I’m happy I revamped this post in time for apple season because I love sharing this recipe!

      Reply
  12. Sharon September 17, 2018 at 01:45

    5 stars
    What a beautiful cake! I really like the addition of chocolate to the top layer. This would be perfect for a fall treat.

    Reply
    1. Eva September 17, 2018 at 15:01

      It really is, I make it every fall. When apples are in season and all you need is the comforting flavour of a childhood favourite… Autumn is also my favourite season, so it all pairs up so wonderfully.

      Reply
  13. Kelsey September 17, 2018 at 02:58

    Wow! This is so pretty and I love how few ingredients it takes to make! That is my favorite part!

    Reply
    1. Eva September 17, 2018 at 15:02

      It’s really simple! Perfect to bring to parties, it requires minimum effort (well, if you don’t count the whisking workout!) and it always pleases the crowds 😀

      Reply
  14. Kitty September 17, 2018 at 05:12

    I love family recipes. I wish I had gotten more from my grandmother before she passed. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eva September 17, 2018 at 15:03

      Having her recipes as her legacy is what makes me feel like she’s still around. She passed away earlier this year and it still feels so strange. But she lives on in her recipes, and I think it is a beautiful way to be remembered.

      Reply
  15. Nicolas Hortense September 18, 2018 at 04:26

    That is one gorgeous cake!! love that ripple effect on the inside. Definitely nice to see a new cuisine (:

    Reply
    1. Eva September 18, 2018 at 19:49

      I’m glad you got to see something new in my post 🙂

      Reply

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