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

➤ by Gerhild Fulson

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

There's nothing quite like enjoying German cakes, especially at coffee time. That coffee time, Kaffeeklatsch, happens every day at our house at 3 pm.

If you drop by then, you may just find this delectable Butterkuchen on the table, served with my Mutti's Sammeltassen (collectable cups) that she lovingly brought back from Germany.

German butter cake is 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!

Butterkuchen, German Butter Cake. A sweet treat for when company comes over!

In the photo above, this butter cake is simply topped with sugar and sliced almonds.

Butterkuchen or Zuckerkuchen?

Butterkuchen (butter cake) and Zuckerkuchen (sugar cake) are used interchangeably for this classic German sweet cake recipe because this simple yeasted sheet cake is traditionally topped with lots of butter and sugar.

Whatever you call it, it is absolutely WUNDERBAR!

Tips for Baking with Yeast

This is a recipe you'll love to get your hands into ... it's fun to knead!

But if you are hesitant to make this German butter cake recipe because you haven't worked with yeast before, don't worry; it's actually quite simple and easy to make. Follow these tips and you may just find yourself making yeast cakes quite often.

  • Don't use ingredients that are hot or cold. 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 the expiry date on the yeast package. Do NOT use old yeast. It will not rise!
  • You need to factor in the time for the yeast dough to rise when calculating how long you need from starting the cake to serving time. It's a quick cake to make, but it takes time to rise.
  • When letting the dough or cake rise (often both need to rise - just check your recipe), do so in a warm, draft-free area. A great place can be your oven. Often I'll briefly turn it on and then off - just enough to take the chill out (you should be able to easily touch the inside). Then put the covered dough/cake in and close the door. Warm and draft-free. Remember to take it out before turning the oven on to bake it!

The yeast dough for this butter cake recipe is a basic cake yeast dough that can be used in many different recipes. 

How to make German Butter Cake

  • To make the yeast dough, mix 1 tablespoon active dry yeast with a ¼ cup lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a large mixing bowl and let it stand for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup lukewarm milk, ½ cup oil, 1 large egg, and ½ cup sugar to the yeast mixture and mix.
  • Beat in 2 cups all-purpose flour and mix well. Let it stand 10 minutes. Keep adding more flour until your dough is nice and soft.
  • Take the dough and knead it until it is smooth and elastic. You don't want too much of a sticky dough, so add more flour if necessary.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen cloth. Put it in a warm, draft-free area for about 30 to 60 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Roll out dough with a rolling pin and place in a greased jelly roll baking sheet.
  • Now for the yummy topping: prick dough with your finger to make small indentations, then brush enough milk or cream to cover the dough.
  • Cut some cold butter into smaller pieces and place them in the indentations.
  • Sprinkle a thick layer of sugar and sliced almonds over the top.
  • Cover once more with a clean kitchen towel and let stand in a warm, draft-free place for another 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy warm and delicious Butterkuchen with your favorite drink!

Additions and Variations

Instead of using a jelly roll pan, I'll sometimes divide the dough into two springform pans. That way, I can top one cake with butter, sugar, and almond slices and the other with butter and a cinnamon-sugar mixture. YUM!

You can also add sour cream to the topping resulting in a completely different cake.

Another delicious alternative is to cover the dough with a streusel topping.

Butterkuchen, German Butter Cake. A sweet treat for when company comes over! This one is covered in streusel. Fun to make, and yummy to eat! Give Oma's butter cake a try!

How to make crumb topping (streusel)

Streusel is so easy to make when you keep the following ratios in mind.

  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part cold butter
  • 2 parts flour

I usually make this using 1 cup sugar, 1 cup butter, and 2 cups flour. However, if you're wanting more or less, just adjust accordingly.

Mix together quickly (I often use a pastry cutter) until you have a crumbly mixture. Crumble it on top of your unbaked cake. You may need to add a few minutes extra to the baking time.

Want a German butter cake recipe that's even quicker to make?

Do you have a bread machine? You do? Then, you can make even quicker work of this recipe.

If you're looking for a really, really easy version of this cake, then check out my other German Butter Cake Recipe that uses a bread machine to make the dough. Faster. Easier. Just as delicious!

Grab your copy of Oma's favorites in her Special Occasion German Cakes & Tortes e-Cookbook.

Take a look at Oma’s Special Occasion Cakes & Tortes eCookbook and enjoy the traditional taste of German cuisine!

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

Lydia Remembers...

I have so many wunderbar memories in the kitchen with my Oma, and have had MANY of her most popular and traditional recipes, like this authentic German butter cake! 

I've enjoyed this recipe multiple times in Oma's kitchen and it's become one of my favorites by far! Served with her homemade mouth-watering whipped cream, now that's a good dessert! My favorite part of this recipe is taking a great big spoonful of whipped cream and plopping it over the top.

This is such a great choice for dessert when having company over. I know it sure did impress me when I first had it at Oma's! It seems like such a simple dessert and it is! Simple, but the absolute yumminess with each and every bite is absolutely wunderbar.

Oma has made this recipe so easy to make and with little hints and tricks to help you along the way of your kitchen journey!

This recipe goes so well with a hot cup of coffee or peppermint tea. Just sit back, relax, and take in all those delicious German flavors! Take my word for it, when Oma makes it, it is ALWAYS delicious.

Learn a little bit about me, Lydia, and my kitchen adventures with Oma!

Oma Says:

As with anything made with yeast, this tastes best served the same day it is made. Served still slightly warm from the oven with a bit of whipped cream, it is absolutely YUMMY!

Perfect for special occasions or for afternoon kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake).

Other German cake recipes perfect for coffee time

Ready to make this Butterkuchen?

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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

Servings:

Makes 20 pieces

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  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.

Notes/Hints:

  • 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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Unless otherwise noted recipe, images and content © Just like Oma | www.quick-german-recipes.com

10.02.2022 revision update

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Check out Oma's German Cake recipes right here: https://www.quick-german-recipes.com/german-cake-recipes.html

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Oma's Butterkuchen / Zuckerkuchen - Butter Cake Recipe

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Oma's Butterkuchen / Zuckerkuchen - Butter Cake Recipe
Oma's Butterkuchen, aka Zuckerkuchen, is a traditional German Butter Cake (Sugar Cake) that's often served for afternoon coffee. Loved by all, easy to make and so delicious to eat!

Ingredients: yeast, sugar, milk, oil, egg, flour, almonds, butter,

For the full recipe, scroll up ...

Words to the Wise

"Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."

Proverbs 11:24-25 (NLT)