Classic German Butter Cake Recipe (Butterkuchen)

Here’s A Delicious German Butter Cake Recipe That Is Easy To Make!

If you’re looking for a more authentic German Kuchen recipe – that’s cake in German – then you’re in the right place! Our German butter cake is made with yeast – because that’s the only way to keep it authentic.

Similar to other German cakes like Bienenstich, Mohnkuchen, or Streuselkuchen, German butter cake is one of these classic sheet cakes that are often eaten in the afternoon with coffee or tea. This is something that Lisa ate growing up as a kid – often at her Oma’s house!

slice of german butter bake on blue plate in front of larger cake
This German butter cake is yeasty and loaded with sliced almonds!

In Germany, baking with yeast seems to be more common than in North America. One of the things that we wanted to demonstrate with this recipe was that baking with yeast doesn’t have to be complicated and/or scary. Just make sure that your yeast is not expired yet – otherwise, it might not rise.

It’s also important to not let the yeast get in contact with hot liquid because that might kill the yeast bacteria. So, when a cake recipe with yeast calls for warm milk or water, make sure that it is just slightly warm – and not hot!

Looking for more cake recipes? Try these:
Classic Marble Cake
Easy Lemon Cake Recipe
German No-Bake Chocolate Cake
Moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Easy Carrot Cake

Tips For Making German Butter Cake

You can find the whole recipe for our German butter cake in the recipe card below, but we wanted to share some pictures and tips of the baking process as guidance!

ball of cake dough in bowl
This is the dough after kneading – not risen yet!

It’s important that you knead the dough really well. Five minutes of kneading might seem like a long time, but it’s worth it. At the end, your ball of dough should look something like in the photo above and shouldn’t stick to the side of the bowl too much. Put a kitchen towel or lid on the bowl and let the dough rise for an hour!

large ball of dough risen in white bowl
Here’s the dough after rising – it’s so fluffy!

After letting the dough rise for an hour, it should have significantly increased in size and feel pretty “fluffy”. If you don’t have a warm place where you can put your dough, it might take slightly longer for it to rise so be patient. Just make sure that there is no draft from an open window or the like anywhere close to the dough.

german butter cake dough in pan with butter chunks pressed on top
The butter in the holes on top almost ready to bake…

After you have rolled out the dough, it’s time to put some dents into the dough for the butter. You can either use your fingers or the top of a knife, mixing spoon, etc. to do this – whatever works best for you. Just be sure not to poke all the way through to the parchment paper!

german butter cake with sugar and almonds on top in pan
German butter cake – ready for baking!

After you have placed the pieces of butter in the dents, it’s time to sprinkle the sugar and sliced almonds on top! Depending on how sweet you like it, you can add more or less sugar. Once you’re done with this step, the cake is ready for baking.

square slice of german butter cake on plate on white table with almonds around
All done and cooled – the almonds are our favorite part!

In some German butter cake recipes, you can add whipping cream on top of the cake when it’s fresh out of the oven (the liquid whipping cream, not the already whipped version you find in an aerosol can). In our recipe, we kept it simple and didn’t do that.

In terms of storage, this is a cake that freezes really well. Just make sure that the cake is fully cooled before freezing and try to trap as little air as possible in your freezer bag or container. You should consume the frozen cake within 3 months – otherwise, it might change its flavor. That’s it – enjoy our version of classic German butter cake!

slice of german butter cake on blue plate

German Butter Cake (Butterkuchen)

Yield: 15 slices
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

This light and yeasty German butter cake is an easy and classic recipe. Made from a simple dough - and lots of butter - the cake is finished off with sugar and sliced almonds that brown up to form a crispy, sweet top!

Ingredients

The Dough

  • 3 cups white flour
  • 14 grams quick-rise dry yeast (or 1 cube a la 42 grams fresh yeast)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 medium-sized egg

The Topping

  • 1/2 cup butter, cold
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Warm up the milk in the microwave or on the stove. It should be slightly warm, not hot or boiling! When using fresh yeast, crumble the yeast and dissolve it in the warm milk. When using dry yeast, this step is not necessary.
  2. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the dry yeast (if applicable). Sprinkle the sugar on top. Now add the lukewarm milk (with the dissolved yeast, if applicable) and knead everything using the spiral dough hooks of your mixer. Add the vanilla extract, soft butter, and egg and keep kneading the dough for around 5 minutes until it forms a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Place a towel or lid over the bowl and let the ball of dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place without a draft.
  4. After about 55 minutes, preheat your oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your baking pan by either greasing it or lining it with parchment paper.
  5. Once the whole hour is up and the ball of dough has significantly increased in size, give it another knead before lightly flouring an even surface (like a table) and rolling out your dough to fit your baking sheet. Place the dough onto the baking sheet.
  6. Take the butter out of the fridge and cut it into small cubes. Use your fingers - or the top of a mixing spoon/ butter knife, for example - to make small, evenly placed dents into the top of the rolled out dough. Make sure to not poke through to the parchment paper! Place the pieces of cold butter into the holes. Now sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar and sliced almonds and place it in the oven to bake for around 20 - 30 minutes. Since every oven is different, your cook time might vary slightly.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool. Cut it into slices before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  • This cake is very easy to make, but since it depends on the yeast working correctly, it is important to use yeast that has not expired yet.
  • It is also important that the milk is not too warm when getting in contact with the yeast. Otherwise, it might keep the yeast bacteria from "doing their job".

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 290Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 120mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 5g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice. The exact values can vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

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