Try these classic German cakes

Try these classic German cakes

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

It’s late in the day, most likely a Saturday, and you feel like you could use a pick-me-up. Head no further than your closest “Backerei” or “Konditere”i (a type of café that specializes in pastries or confectionery) and order your coffee or tea of choice. Now it’s time to make way to the “Vitrine,” or glass display case, and order up the most decadent piece of cake that happens to catch your eye. Drink and devour, and presto! Your will to live has been restored.

Here are the names of ten tempting choices and a quick look at what they’re made of. Which one will you be ordering on your next outing?

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte: Germany’s best-known cake will forever be associated with the Black Forest, although the geographical reference refers not to the origin of the cake itself but it’s essential ingredient: Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser, the bitter brandy distilled from the sour Morello cherry. You’ll never go wrong when you order up this dreamy concoction of brandy-soaked chocolate sponge, whipped cream and cherries, topped with chocolate shavings and shiny red Maraschino cherries.

Donauwelle cake. 

Donauwelle: The name of this cake translates to “Danube Waves,” although no firm connection to the cake’s origins and Europe’s second-longest river has ever been established. A layer of vanilla sponge, chocolate sponge, sour cherries from a jar and butter cream is topped with a chocolate glaze and raked with a fork to create the appearance of waves. When this sheet cake is cut and observed from the side, the cherries also appear to be riding a wave.

Bienenstich: The “bee sting” sheet cake is another German classic. A generous layer of vanilla custard lurks between yeasty dough topped with slivered, lightly toasted almonds and a touch of honey.

Frankfurter Kranz: The “Frankfurt crown” takes is name from its ring shape and reminds us of the days when Kaisers were crowned in this city on the Main River. Vanilla sponge is punctuated by layers of butter cream and blackcurrant jam, covered with yet more buttercream frosting and topped with “krokant,” finely chopped, caramelized hazelnuts. Whipped cream and cherries complete this cake’s regal appearance.


Mohnkuchen: Poppy seed cake is the perfect choice for those who find all those layers of whipped cream way too fatty and cloying. This cake features a thin sponge bottom, a generous, poppy-seed laden, creamy layer and a crumbly, streusel topping.

Joghurt-Schnitte: A solid choice for those who don’t love their cakes overly sweet, this is a thin layer of sponge, covered with a creamy, yogurt-based filling that holds its shape thanks to gelatin, and topped by a peachy glaze. Fresh fruits or berries are other popular finishing touches.

Käsekuchen: Dreamy German cheesecake has a flavor and consistency much different to that what you’re used to back home. Its thick but not stodgy texture comes thanks to the presence of Quark, a fresh dairy product derived from soured milk that struggles to find its equivalent in American culinary tradition. Subtle hints of lemon and vanilla lifts its flavor straight to the heavens.


Pflaumenkuchen: Plum cake isn’t the most beautiful or elegant of all cakes, but it’s tart and tasty, and particularly beloved in summer when a way to use up all that seasonal fruit is urgently called for. A layer of yeast or shortbread dough is generously covered with pitted plums. Sometimes a crumbly streusel topping of flour, butter and sugar is added to finish it off.

Russischer Zupfkuchen: This type of cake is often made by home bakers, so keep an eye out for this one if your town’s church or sports club happens to be organizing a “coffee and cake” fund-raising activity. A chocolate cake on top and bottom is complemented perfectly by a softer, quark-filled, pudding layer in the middle.

Apfelstrudel: This treat is more of a pastry than a cake, but despite this technicality, it’s something you don’t want to miss. Thin, flaky layers of dough are filled with a cooked apple filling that’s been elevated with sugar and cinnamon and other spices. Sometimes raisins and almonds are added too. It’s traditionally served warm and topped with vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream.

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