Butter cake is traditional German treat

Ask the Chef

October 13, 2002|By Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan | Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan,Knight Ridder / Tribune

For years I have been trying to find a recipe for Philadelphia butter cake (also known as German butter cake, or as just butter cake in the Northeast at any German bakery). It is not a layer cake, but I think a raised-dough type of crust with a gooey sweet buttery topping. I really hope you are familiar with what I'm talking about, because it is not the easiest item to describe.

The yeast cake with a wonderful butter topping that you are talking about is indeed German, and its real name is butterkuchen ( "Philadelphia" is not part of the translation). This is the perfect time of year to make and enjoy this traditional treat since Oktoberfest is just around the corner. I don't know how well dark German lager would go with it, though. Try this recipe and serve it with some milk.



1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

grated rind of 1 lemon

4 eggs


1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds

For the cake, sprinkle the yeast over warm water and allow to dissolve. In a saucepan, heat milk, sugar, salt and the butter together until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted. Cool to lukewarm. Add dissolved yeast. Place the flour blended with lemon rind in a large mixing bowl; form a well in the center. Add the yeast-milk mixture and the eggs. Stir until blended and smooth. Pour into a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking pan, spreading dough out evenly. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

For the topping, mix together the sugars and cinnamon. Chop the butter into this mixture to form fine particles.

Sprinkle the topping over the top of the risen batter. Add the almonds. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and syrupy.

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