“German cake”. That’s what the patisseries in Turkey used to call this cake. “German cake”. That’s how we always knew this cake. But is it really a German cake? I couldn’t find any information on such a cake being “German” nor could I find its original name. The only thing that resembles this is berliner, and yet this cake is certainly not a donut and there it actually fails the resemblance for me.. However, it certainly resembles a giant semla, or laskiaispulla, without cardamom or egg wash…
It’s been a big debate between me and my family back in Turkey recently: is “german cake” a yeast dough cake or two layers of basic sponge cake with some kind of cream in between? I was not the biggest fan of this cake when I was a kid, but the one thing I can remember is the yeasty taste, almost making it some kind of a sweet bread. But when I checked the recipes online in Turkish websites, almost all of them made sponge cakes. Finally, I found one Turkish chef’s youtube channel, and found the recipe that is closest to the original cake.
The idea of this cake is simple: you make a rather sweet yeast dough with an egg in it (and some butter, therefore it is not basic bread). You let it rise for an hour, then transfer it to a round and greased cake pan. You let it proof a little more, than bake. In the meantime you prepare crème pâtissière and when your cake is baked, you put this cream in between 2 layers of cake you cut from the one you baked. You can put bananas also, like I did, but you can also put strawberries, other berries, or even jam. I like it with banana only. The final touch is covering the top of the cake with powdered sugar.
So there it is, the German cake as we call it. If you have any idea about why we called this cake German, anything resembling this cake in German cuisine, or what this cake is originally called, write in the comment sections please! Danke!
Difficulty: ★★☆ (Medium)
(makes 1 cake that is 26cm in diameter – check step 6 for this size)
For cake dough:
3 dl / 1 cup + 4 tbsp milk (I used whole milk, täysmaito)
2 tbsp / 30 gr. granulated white sugar
3.5 tsp / 10 gr. dry yeast
a pinch of salt
40 gr. / a little less than 3 tbsp butter, softened in room temperature
500 gr. / 4 cups / 9.6 dl all purpose flour
For crème pâtissière:
2 egg yolks
200 gr. / 1 cup / 2.4 dl granulated white sugar
75 gr. / 8.5 tbsp all purpose flour
45 gr. / 5 scant tbsp corn starch (maissitärkkelys)
2.5 dl milk (again, whole milk, täysmaito)
2.5 dl heavy cream (kuohukerma in Finnish)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla sugar, if you don’t have vanilla extract)
1 tbsp butter
To put between the layers (optional):
Banana slices, berries, jam..
Powdered sugar to spread on top of the cake
1. Warm the milk a little (not boiling, just a little hot to touch). Pour it in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and yeast, mix a little with a spoon. Let it sit for 10 minutes, and wait for yeast to start working – you will see the mixture foaming at the end of 10 minutes if the yeast is activated well.
2. Add salt, egg, butter and whisk as well as possible.
3. Add flour in batches and continue whisking.
4. Continue kneading with hand, first inside the bowl then on a slightly floured surface (do not put too much flour, you don’t want to add too much extra flour to your cake dough). Make a smooth dough that is soft and not sticky (but not too dry either).
5. Put the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover with stretch film and let it rise and double in size for about an hour in a warm part of your kitchen.
6. Once your dough is doubled in size, prepare your cake pan (I used springform pan) – put baking paper in the bottom and grease the whole pan with butter. Put the dough gently in the pan, without deflating it much. Very gently, again trying not to deflate it, spread the dough a little towards the edge of the pan. NOTE: If I used a smaller pan, say about 24cm in diameter, I would not have to do this spreading. But then I wasn’t sure if the dough would get too compact while baking, that’s why I used 26cm. At this point, I can it is up to you to decide the size. Just put a kitchen towel on the pan and put the dough aside for final proofing, about 20 minutes, while you are preheating the oven.
7. Preheat the oven to 175C.
8. While the oven is heating up, start preparing crème pâtissière. In a medium bowl, put egg yolks and whisk a little. Add sugar and whisk well.
9. Add flour and continue whisking.
10. Add corn starch and continue whisking, until you get a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs. I used my hands a little in the end to make the particles smaller.
11. Once your oven is ready and your dough has had the final proof for about 20 minutes or so, put the dough in the oven, in medium rack. Bake for 40 minutes.
12. Continue preparing the cream. In a medium pan, put milk, heavy cream and vanilla extract (or vanilla sugar) and put on a low heat. Whisk a little and let the mixture warm (but do NOT let it boil, just let it warm a little, seeing a bit of bubbling or a movement happening around the edge).
13. Once the mixture warms, add the dry mixture for the cream. Whisk continuously.
14. When the mixture thickens, take it away from the heat, add butter and whisk it until all butter melts.
15. Continue whisking the cream away from the stove – this will let it cool down. Put aside.
16. When your cake is baked, let it cool down for about 10 minutes. Then take it out of the pan and cut in two pieces. I did not cut it from exactly middle, but I made the bottom part larger, so I suppose it’s safe to suggest cutting the dome. Spread cream on the bottom part, add banana slices or another fruit / jam you like.
17. Put the upper part on the bottom. Using a strainer, spread powdered sugar on top generously, covering the whole cake top. Serve it fresh with a cup of lovely, well-brewed tea (or coffee, if you must..). Enjoy!