Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe

This Butter Cake recipe, aka Butterkuchen (sometimes called Zuckerkuchen), is a traditional German cake often served for afternoon coffee.

It's a delicious yeast cake that is light and fluffy with a sweet gooey buttery topping. It's so good when served still warm from the oven with a dollop of whipped cream and a hot cup of coffee or hot tea!

Prep Time

90 minutes

Cook Time

25 minutes

Total Time

115 minutes


Makes 20 pieces


Yeast Dough

  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup (60 milliliter) lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) lukewarm milk
  • ½ cup (120 milliliters) neutral oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • about 4 - 4½ cups (520 - 585 g) all-purpose flour

Simple Topping

  • ½ cup (120 milliliters) milk or cream
  • ⅓ cup (76 grams) cold butter
  • ⅔ cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (75 grams) sliced almonds


  1. In a large bowl, mix yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes. This should be foamy. (It will be if the yeast is not old.)
  2. Mix in 1 cup milk, oil, egg, and ½ cup sugar. Beat in 2 cups flour and mix well. Let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Add more flour until a soft dough results. 
  4. Remove from bowl and knead until smooth and elastic, adding flour ONLY if necessary if it is too sticky.
  5. Put smooth dough into a greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and put in a draft-free warm place for about 30 - 60 minutes, until doubled in size.
  6. Grease a 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan. Roll out dough to fit pan and place in pan.
  7. Make small hollows in the surface of the dough with your fingers.
  8. Brush dough with ½ cup milk or cream.
  9. Cut butter into small pieces and place in hollows.
  10. Sprinkle ⅔ cup sugar and nuts over dough.
  11. Cover and let stand in a warm draft-free place for about 30 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
  13. Let cool slightly and cut into 20 pieces.


  • Ideally, everything should be at room temperature. The heat can kill the yeast and the cold can hinder the growth of the yeast cells.
  • Check expiry date on yeast package. Do NOT use old yeast. It will not rise.
  • When letting the dough rise, do so in a warm, draft-free area.
  • Store any leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • If you have a bread machine, you can make quick work of making the dough. Take a look at my other German butter cake recipe.

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10.02.2022 revision update