Whenever I walk past a bakery or a patisserie, my eye is always drawn to the beautifully displayed fruit tarts and cakes. They are always so bright and colourful, the glazed fruit glistening like gemstones on top of the luscious creme patisserie. And most beautiful of all? German Strawberry Cake, or Erdbeerkuchen.
It might look fancy, but you can make German Strawberry cake at home!
Before moving to Germany I’d always assumed that a classic German Strawberry Cake was a specialist matter, best left to the experts in the shops. It was to my great surprise to discover that not only does every German Hausfrau or Hausmann have a recipe at home for strawberry cake, but it is also considered to be one of the very most basic recipes around. Who knew?
OK, so what is a German Strawberry Cake?
German Strawberry Cake is made from layers of soft sponge cake, creamy vanilla custard, and fresh spring strawberries, all topped with sweet clear jelly. There is a lot to love about this simple and beautiful cake, and it is always popular at summer parties.
Is it hard to make German Strawberry Cake?
Not at all! With my never-fail sponge recipe, this is simply an assembly job. In fact, I’ll let you in on a secret: loads of people here in Germany just buy a sponge base, and then top it with packet custard and strawberries – it still looks and tastes great!
But we’re not cheating here, are we?
Absolutely not! If you like, you can take a shortcut though. German Strawberry Cakes call for one special ingredient, known as Tortenguß. It’s the clear jelly on the top of the cake and it comes in a little packet (link in the recipe card). Tortenguß isn’t available everywhere, so I have come up with two different homemade versions.
Can you make Tortenguß at home?
Yes! In the recipe below I include a method using potato starch, and in my recipe for German Strawberry Cream Torte, I share a method using gelatine. Both will work if you can’t get any Tortenguß.
Double up the recipe for a party!
In my recipe below I have given quantities to make a 20x30cm (that’S 8×12 in.) rectangular cake which makes about 8 square slices. The recipe fits in a 26cm (10 in.) round springform cake pan too, or if you are feeding a crowd (or have LOADS of strawberries), double the recipe to make an oven tray sized cake.
German Strawberry Cake is going to become your secret weapon!
Once you know a few tricks to the baking of them, a German Strawberry cake, or Erdbeerkuchen will become a regular treat in your baking repertoire. They are quick and easy to make and look spectacular. This is the sort of cake that you can quickly whip up for unexpected guests and then sti back and enjoy all the praise.
Strawberries not in season? No worries!
If strawberries aren’t in season, this cake base is good with all soft or lightly poached fruits. That means berries of all kinds, ripe stone fruit, kiwi fruit, or tropical fruits like mango are all perfectly delicious. Let your imagination go wild, but do take the time to arrange the fruit nicely, and make sure that you cut out any bumps and bruises as the fruit is very much on display.
Looking for more German baking recipes?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What is the best starch to use for this cake if I am not using Tortenguß?
Potato starch is the best to use for this cake as it sets clear. In a real pinch you could use corn starch, but it will set cloudy and not show off the berries at their best.
How do I get my strawberries such a beautiful red?
If you fancy, you can colour the jelly by using 100ml of red juice, like grape, cranberry or red currant in place of some of the water.
I don’t want to use starch on this cake. Any alternatives?
If you aren’t keen on making the jelly glaze, simply melt a few tablespoons of apricot jam and brush it over the fruit. It won’t look quite so beautiful, but it will taste good.
for the sponge:
- 3 large eggs
- 125g (½ cup) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 75ml (5 Tbsp) neutral oil (sunflower, canola etc)
- 100g (½ cup) plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
for the custard:
- 20g (2 Tbsp) cornflour / corn starch
- 40g (2 Tbsp) sugar
- 1 egg
- 250ml (1 cup) full cream milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
for the topping:
- 500g (½ lb.) strawberries
for the glaze:
- 1 packet Tortenguß (see notes)
- 20g (2 Tbsp) sugar
to make homemade glaze:
- 2.5 Tbsp potato flour/potato starch
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 500 ml water
- PREPARE: Line a 20x30cm (8x12 in.) deep-sided baking tray with baking paper and grease with a little butter. Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4.
- MAKE THE SPONGE: In a large mixing bowl, use an electric beater to beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together for 5 minutes until pale and almost tripled in volume. After 5 minutes, drizzle in the oil while still beating, then sift over the flour and baking powder and fold through, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.
- BAKE THE SPONGE: Pour the mixture into the prepared tray, smooth over the top, then bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. Set aside to cool in the tin.
- MAKE THE CUSTARD: When the cake is cool, make the custard by whisking together the cornflour and sugar until well combined. Add the egg and half of the milk and whisk until smooth. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan until nearly boiling. Pour over the cornstarch mixture whisking constantly, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring until thick. Pour immediately over the sponge base, using a spatula to spread it all the way to the sides.
- ADD THE STRAWBERRIES: Wash and dry the strawberries, then cut off the green tops, and halve lengthways. Arrange tightly on top of the custard in a pattern that you like, pressing the strawberries firmly into the custard to fix them in place.
- MAKE THE GLAZE (option 1): If using Tortenguß, add the packet of powder to a saucepan with the sugar and 250ml of water. Stir well, then heat until thickened, set aside to cool for 1 minute.
- MAKE THE GLAZE (option 2:) To make a homemade glaze, whisk together the sugar and potato flour until well combined. Whisk in 100ml of the water to make a loose paste and heat the remaining water on the stove until nearly boiling. Pour in the potato flour mixture and cook, stirring vigorously until the mixture not only thickens but becomes clear. You can check this by lifting the whisk out of the glaze to see - 1-2 minutes only. Remove from the heat and set aside for 2 minutes to cool.
- ADD THE GLAZE: Spoon he glaze evenly over the entire cake from the middle, taking care that each of the strawberries is completely covered. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then chill in the fridge for at least half an hour or until the glaze has set.
- SERVE: Slice and serve with plenty of whipped cream.
The glaze for Erdbeerkuchen is known as Tortenguß and is a fixture in every German kitchen as it sets quickly and makes a beautiful cake topping. The link to purchase it online is below, but you can try making your own at home by using potato starch.
If you have a little more time to make a glaze, you can also use gelatine, the instructions are in my recipe for German Strawberry Cream Torte.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 148mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 6g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.