A delicious cake topped with cinnamon and almonds! German Butter Cake or Butterkuchen is a classic treat from Germany that you can easily make at home. Excellent for a snack, dessert, or even breakfast!
It might not be as ubiquitous as pretzels, but I have yet to see a bakery (at least in Frankfurt) that does not have German butter cake.
You think it’s just good for snacks? Nope, butterkuchen is also excellent for breakfast or after-meal dessert.
For a complete experience, start with my authentic German Potato Soup, locally known as ‘kartoffelsuppe,’ with some German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) on the side — then finish with a slice (or two) of this treat.
What is butterkuchen?
Although its literal translation is ‘butter cake,’ butterkuchen is more like bread, a yeasted bread to be exact — and it’s one of the most famous German treats for a coffee break.
Butterkuchen goes so well with coffee because it gives you that perfect balance of sugar and cinnamon in every bite.
And don’t forget the subtle crunch from the almonds!
IF YOU WANT MORE TRADITIONAL GERMAN DESSERTS, THEN YOU WILL LOVE THESE POSTS!
- Flour – all you need is all-purpose flour for this butterkuchen recipe.
- Milk – use full cream milk, if possible.
- Yeast – I typically use active dry yeast for preparing German butter cake.
- Sugar – granulated white sugar is excellent for butterkuchen, both for the dough and the topping with cinnamon.
- Butter – I generally use unsalted butter; and softened.
- Salt – you might need to use less if you are using salted butter.
- Cinnamon powder – just use your favorite brand for the topping of your butterkuchen.
- Egg – medium-sized eggs (about 63 to 73 grams each), and make sure they’re at room temperature.
- Almonds – sliced almonds on top of butterkuchen to provide the crunch in every bite!
Start making butterkuchen by combining the yeast with half a cup of warm milk (photo 1).
Set it aside until it’s foamy and ready.
Combine flour, three tablespoons of sugar, and salt using your stand mixer bowl.
Mix with the paddle attachment.
Add the yeast mixture, remaining half cup milk, and egg — then mix (photo 2).
Add softened butter and switch to hook attachment; continue mixing until you get a smooth dough.
Form your butterkuchen dough into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl (photo 3).
Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and set aside until it doubles in size — typically for about ninety minutes.
Take it out of the bowl, and roll it into the baking tray’s size using a rolling pin.
Transfer it to the baking tray, then use a fork to prick it randomly (photo 4).
Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for about thirty minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Using a medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining sugar and butter with the cinnamon. Mix evenly.
Uncover the dough and use your fingers to form dents on it (photo 5).
Spread the cinnamon-butter mixture on top — and use an angled spatula to spread it evenly.
Sprinkle sliced almonds on top of your butterkuchen (photo 6).
Place the tray in the middle of the oven for about twenty to twenty-five minutes.
Once cool enough to cut, slice your German butter cake into squares.
Serve, and sprinkle more almonds on top, if desired.
- You don’t need a stand mixer to prepare this authentic German butter cake. The dough of the butterkuchen is so easy to handle with your hands — not sticky at all.
- If you don’t have a rolling pin, that’s not a problem. You can stretch the dough to fit the tray’s size and then press with your hands to make it even.
- Not a fan of nuts? Then skip the almonds. Butterkuchen without almonds is quite common as well.
- Butter. Traditionally, it’s only butter that’s used for butterkuchen topping. The dents are filled with bits of butter, and a sprinkle of sugar is added on top of it.
- Streusel. Nowadays, it’s quite common to see streusel on butterkuchen as well.
Absolutely. You can even use a round baking pan if you prefer.
But generally, butterkuchen is baked on a regular tray. That’s what makes it unique in a way – a no-fuss cake.
While it’s delicious as it is, butterkuchen is also excellent with whipped cream — especially if you’re serving it fresh from the oven. Yum!
So, what do you think? Give this butterkuchen recipe a try this weekend, and let me know!
Butterkuchen Recipe (German Butter Cake)
For the butterkuchen dough:
- 2 & 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1 cup milk, warm
- 3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp butter (about 60 grams), unsalted and softened
- 1 medium egg, at room temperature and beaten
For the topping:
- 1 & 1/4 stick butter (about 142 grams), unsalted and softened
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup almonds, sliced
Preparing butterkuchen dough:
- Combine ½ cup of warm milk with yeast. Mix and set aside until foamy.
- Using your stand mixer's bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Use the flat beater attachment to mix.
- Add yeast mixture, remaining ½ cup of milk, and egg. Mix to combine.
- Add softened butter. Mix until a dough starts to form.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment and mix it becomes smooth.
- Form your butterkuchen dough into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until the size has doubled — generally takes at least an hour.
- Take it out of the bowl, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough into the baking tray's size. (I use a baking tray that's 14.75 x 9.75-inch.)
- Use your hands to even out the butterkuchen dough, then use a fork to prick it randomly.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 30 minutes.
Baking German butter cake:
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
- When the dough is almost ready, start preparing the topping by combining the remaining softened butter, sugar, and cinnamon powder in a bowl — mix evenly.
- Once your butterkuchen dough is ready, use your fingers to create dents on it.
- Spread the cinnamon-butter mixture on your butterkuchen, making sure that the dents have the mix in them.
- Sprinkle sliced almonds on top.
- Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes.
- Once cool enough to cut, slice your butterkuchen into squares, then serve.
- Top with more sliced almonds, if preferred.
- Cook’s Tip #1: You can easily make this butter cake recipe without a stand mixer; the butterkuchen dough is relatively easy to knead manually.
- Cook’s Tip #2: If you don’t have a rolling pin, that’s not a problem. You can stretch the butterkuchen dough to fit the tray’s size and then use your hands to make it even.
- Cook’s Tip #3: If you don’t like nuts, skip the almonds. Butterkuchen without almonds is quite common as well.