Luisa Weiss acknowledges — in all humility — that her apple-almond cake is the best she's ever eaten. She also admits that her recipe is based on one she found on the side of a package of generic, store-brand almond paste.

Called Apfelkuchen, it's one of an endless array of fruit-topped cakes that change with the seasons in Germany. Rhubarb in spring. Sour cherries or berries in summer. And, of course, apples in fall.

In nearly all cases, fruit is arranged over a rich yet light batter that bakes up and around the fruit, surrounding it with a tender, golden crumb. For apple cakes, the batter often is enriched with marzipan or almond paste, the fruit and nuts a common German pairing, says Weiss, author of Classic German Baking.

"There are lots of apple cakes in the book, and in German baking. And they're all really nice," says Weiss, an American who moved to Berlin a decade ago. "But this is one of those slam dunks that worked, and I loved it right away."

Though almond paste and marzipan both contain finely ground almonds and sugar, the difference between them proved crucial here. Almond paste — which is less sweet than marzipan — adds not only richness but also moisture without actual liquid. Inspired by the recipe she found on the package, Weiss tinkered, increasing the volume of apples. She also blended the almond paste (which tastes richly of vanilla and cherry as well as almond) into melted butter to ensure its flavor infuses the entire cake.

At Milk Street, we loved the way Weiss' recipe allowed the almond paste to shine without overwhelming the sweet tartness of the apples. It took us multiple attempts to find a reliable way to arrange the apple slices on top of the batter that kept them in place without weighing down the cake. We settled on two small apples, sliced ⅛ inch thick, fanned out in rows like a seven-­pointed star.

For the apples themselves, we opted for Granny Smith, which balance the sweetness of the cake and highlight the fruitiness of the almond paste. The crumb came out exceedingly tender and moist, almost creamy. We agree with the Germans: Almonds and apples are an excellent couple.

For the recipe and more, head to Christopher Kimball's Milk Street.