Oma's Frankfurter Kranz Recipe ~ German Crown Cake (Wreath Cake)
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Frankfurter Kranz, aka Frankfurt Crown Cake or German Crown Cake, is a ring-shaped, three-layered cake filled with red jam and delicious German buttercream. (Actually Kranz means "wreath" ... but it's a mistranslation from years ago that stuck!)
The outside of the cake is thickly coated with even more buttercream and sprinkled with Krokant, a nut brittle usually made with almonds and/or hazelnuts. Finally, dollops of buttercream topped with red cherries are placed around the top of the cake.
As the name would suggest, the traditional Frankfurter Kranz recipe originates from Frankfurt, Germany. The German word Kranz means wreath or crown.
The cake, with its ring shape, golden Krokant topping, and jewel-like cocktail cherries, is symbolic of a golden crown with an apparent reference to way back when they used to crown German emperors in the city of Frankfurt, which was the crown city of the German empire for many years.
Coming from the northern part of Germany, this cake is not something I grew up with. I have been frequently asked for a Frankfurter Kranz recipe by readers and I was finally intrigued enough to research it and experiment.
Boy, am I glad I did!! The recipe below is the result of my experimentation and has brought rave reviews from all who’ve tasted it.
The cake itself has a firmer texture than American cakes. Sort of like a pound cake. The German buttercream is the star.
Smooth, creamy, buttery, rich, yet not too sweet. Absolutely heavenly.
A shout-out to Adrian Lees,
from Rockingham, Western Australia
Adrian, one of our Kaffeeklatschers, sent in these photos of his Frankfurter Kranz, along with this comment:
I really enjoyed making this cake, and everyone who had a piece remarked how lovely it was. I used both hazelnuts and almonds for the nut brittle.
Thanks for sharing your cake with us, Adrian. I wish I could have been there to enjoy a piece. It looks absolutely perfect!
How to make my Frankfurter Kranz recipe
This is not by any means a quick recipe, but it is an easy recipe to make and well worth the time invested. Here's a quick overview, but for more detailed instructions and ingredients list, please see the recipe card below.
Start by mixing together some softened butter with sugar, a pinch of salt, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer. Then add in 8 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Mix in some lemon zest and lemon juice for that wonderful lemon flavor.
Sift flour, cornstarch, and baking powder over egg and butter mixture and mix until smooth.
Pour the batter into a buttered 10-inch Bundt pan.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 35 to 45 minutes.
Cool cake completely on a wire rack and then slice cake horizontally into 3 even layers.
While the cake is cooling, make the buttercream frosting.
In a saucepan, prepare a package of Shirriff Vanilla Cooked Pudding & Pie Filling with milk and sugar. Bring the pudding to room temperature and stir until smooth.
In a large mixing bowl, whip room temperature butter with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy.
Then add 1 tablespoon of pudding at a time to the butter, mixing well after each addition, then increase mixer speed and whip for 2 to 3 more minutes until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
Put some of the buttercream in a pastry bag and set aside for later.
NOTE: Making buttercream can be tricky. Both the pudding and the butter have to be the same temperature. If not, you will run into problems.
- Did the buttercream “break”?
- Does the buttercream look like cottage cheese?
Check out my TIPS/HINTS section below on how to fix this.
Now for the Krokant. In a skillet, bring some water and sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add chopped almonds and hazelnuts and keep stirring until all the liquid has evaporated and the nuts are golden brown.
Spread the nut mixture on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet to cool.
Once cooled, break the Krokant into pieces and place in a food processor and pulse until chopped as finely as you like.
And now to put it all together. Place the bottom layer of the cake on a cake plate. Spread jam on top of the layer.
- Spread a layer of buttercream on top of the jam.
- Place the second cake layer on top.
- Spread jam and buttercream on the second layer.
- Place the top cake layer on top.
- Spread the remaining buttercream over the outside of the cake.
Sprinkle the Krokant over the buttercream. Use the buttercream in the decorating bag to decorate with 9 to 12 dollops and place a candied cherry on each.
And voilà! This Frankfurter Kranz recipe is a German masterpiece worthy of any special occasion!
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Oma’s Frankfurter Kranz Recipe - German Crown Cake
Frankfurter Kranz, aka Frankfurt Crown Cake or German Crown Cake, is a ring-shaped, three-layered cake filled with red jam and delicious German vanilla buttercream. The outside of the cake is thickly coated with even more buttercream and sprinkled with Krokant, a nut brittle usually made with almonds and/or hazelnuts. Finally, dollops of buttercream topped with red candied cherries are placed around the top of the cake. Perfect for any special occasion!
40 - 45 minutes
Makes 12 servings
Ingredients for Batter:
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (200 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon (6 grams) lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) lemon juice
- 2⅓ cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (100 grams) corn starch
- 1 tablespoon (12 grams) baking powder
Instructions for Batter:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan and set it aside.
- In a large bowl, mix softened butter with sugar, salt, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Mix in lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Mix flour, cornstarch, and baking powder together in a small bowl, then sift flour mixture over the butter-egg mixture. Stir until the batter is smooth, but do not over mix.
- Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan.
- Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Take cake out of the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out on a wire rack and let it cool completely. (While the cake is cooling, make the buttercream, below).
- Cut the cooled cake horizontally into 3 equal layers.
Ingredients for the Butter Cream Filling & Toppings:
- 1 5.6-ounce (160-gram) package Shirriff Vanilla Cooked Pudding & Pie Filling or 1½ 3-ounce (85-gram) packages Jell-O Vanilla Cook & Serve Pudding & Pie Filling
- 3 cups (750 milliliters) whole milk
- ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar
- 1⅓ cup (300 g) unsalted soft butter
- ¾ cup (225 grams) raspberry jam or apricot glaze
- 9 - 12 candied cherries
Instructions for the Butter-Cream Filling
- In a medium saucepan, prepare the pudding with milk and sugar according to the package instructions. Place the saucepan in a cold water bath to cool the pudding, pressing a piece of plastic wrap to the top of the pudding to keep a “skin” from forming. Do not place it in the fridge.
- When the cooled pudding is at room temperature, stir until smooth. If there are any lumps, force through a sieve.
- Both the pudding and the butter need to be at room temperature! In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer with a whisk attachment at high speed for at least 5 minutes until the butter is very light, fluffy, and almost white in appearance. Reduce the mixer to medium speed and add one tablespoon of pudding at a time to the butter, making sure the pudding is fully incorporated before adding the next spoonful. Once all the pudding has been added, increase the mixer speed slightly and whip for 2 to 3 minutes until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
- Place 6 tablespoons of buttercream frosting into a pastry piping bag fitted with a swirl or star tip and set aside.
Ingredients for the Krokant:
- ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (100 milliliters) water
- ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1 cup (100 grams) chopped or sliced almonds
- 1 cup (100 grams) chopped hazelnuts
Instructions for the Krokant:
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a skillet, bring water and sugar to a boil.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the nuts and continue stirring until all the liquid has evaporated and the nuts are golden brown. Be careful this doesn’t burn!
- Spread the mixture immediately on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet to cool. The mixture will harden as it cools.
- Break the Krokant into small pieces. Place into a food processor and pulse until chopped as finely as you like.
Finishing the Cake
- Place the bottom layer of the cake on a serving plate. Using a pastry brush, spread half the jam on top of the bottom layer. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of the jam. Place the middle cake layer on top of the buttercream and spread with remaining jam and a second layer of buttercream. Place the final cake layer on top.
- Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, smoothing it with a spatula.
- Sprinkle the Krokant on top of the cake.
- Use the buttercream in the decorating bag to decorate with 9 to12 dollops and place a cherry on each.
- Store the cake, covered, in the fridge for up to one week. Remove from the fridge at least ½ hour before serving.
- If your cake rises too high in the middle (domes and cracks), your oven is probably running hot. Cut the dome part off (use for a snack!) so the cake will sit flat. Next time, lower the heat a bit.
- For the buttercream frosting, both the pudding and the butter need to be at room temperature. If the pudding is too warm, it will melt the butter. If the pudding is too cold (from the fridge), it will harden the butter.
- Use 2 tablespoons rum instead of lemon juice.
- Use 1½ pouches of Dr. Oetker Vanilla Pudding instead of the Shirriff or Jello puddings and add an extra 3 tablespoons of sugar.
- Instead of the hazelnut/almond mixture, you can use just hazelnuts or just almonds.
How to fix 'broken' Buttercream:
- IF THE PUDDING BUTTERCREAM MIXTURE FEELS COLD: Slowly heat the bowl in a warm water bath. As soon as just the outside edge of the buttercream is slightly melted, remove from water bath, start beating again at low speed and then high speed for about 5 minutes.
- IF THE MIXTURE FEELS WARM OR STARTS TO GET RUNNY AS YOU WHIP: Put it in the fridge until just the outside edges of the buttercream begin to harden (this may take 5 to 10 minutes). Then, start beating again at low speed and then high speed for about 5 minutes.
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