The first strawberries have started appearing in the markets, juicy and glossy, fragrant with the promise of summer and sun. Of course, as soon as I see strawberries I get a craving for that most summery of recipes: an Erdbeer Sahnetorte – or a German Strawberry Cream Torte.
This gorgeous cake, piled high with strawberries and a pale pink jelly is perfect for the tea-time table or a romantic date for Valentine’s Day.
About this recipe
As a baker, the beauty of German cakes and tortes will never fail to amaze me. This is a gorgeous cake with layers of vanilla sponge, softly whipped cream and Quark (more on that later) and a topping of shining, glazed strawberries.
I think it is one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen, yet here in Germany, this is considered to be the simplest of cakes to make and something many people can whip up without even looking at a recipe!
The issue when bringing a recipe like this into English is that the German home baker has easy access to a few special ingredients.
Your average recipe for this sort of cake will call for Sahnesteif (a modified starch for stiffening cream sold in little paper packets) Tortenguß (another type of modified starch for making a jelly-like glaze, and yes, sold in little paper packets) and almost certainly Quark (a type of curd with a very low fat content).
I’ve spent AGES coming up with alternatives for these things, mostly so that I can bake delicious German cakes when I am travelling!
If this all sounds a little too tricky, I have an even EASIER version of this cake! Try my classic Germany Strawberry Cake (Erdbeerkuchen) recipe instead.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I use cream cheese or bought Labneh?
Not really, both shop-bought cream cheese and labneh will almost definitely have salt in them, which is totally wrong for this delicate cake.
Can I use other fruit to make German Strawberry Cream Torte?
Definitely! All berries, soft stone fruit or even tinned fruit will be delicious. Don’t use acidic fruit like kiwifruit or pineapple as the acid and enzymes in the fruit will react with both the cream and the gelatine (if using) causing them to split.
I don’t eat gelatine! Is there a substitution?
There are fabulous vegetarian and vegan alternatives to gelatine – Agar Agar is a natural type of jelly commonly sold in supermarkets or organic shops and will work well in this recipe. I’ve not experimented with it yet so be sure to follow the instructions on the pack.
What is a cake ring? Do I need one?
Cake rings or torte rings are fixed or adjustable stainless steel rings used in professional kitchens to make layered cakes. They are available online and at kitchen stores. If you don’t have one you could try using the springform tin that you cooked the cake in, lined with a piece of fairly stiff plastic. It needs to be at least 8cm high to fit everything in.
Looking for more German Cake Recipes in English? Check out some of my favourites here!
German Strawberry Cream Torte Recipe
for the sponge:
- 3 medium eggs
- 125 g (½ cup) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
- 100 g (¾ cup) plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
for the filling:
- 500 g (1 lb.) Quark, or well strained Greek style yoghurt (Labneh) see notes for alternatives
- 75 g (⅓ cup) sugar
- 250 g (½ lb.) strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped
- 200 g (¾ cup) whippig cream
- 1 Tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
for the topping:
- 250 g (½ lb.) strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped
- 2 Tbsp pistachios, finely chopped
for the glaze:
- 1 sheet gelatine
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1-2 drops red food colouring
- PREPARE: Heat the oven to 160°C / 325°F / Gas 3 . Line the base of a high sided 20cm (8 in.) round, springform cake pan with baking paper. Grease the sides and the rim (this cake rises!) well with butter and dust with flour..
- MAKE THE SPONGE CAKE: Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together for 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, then sift over the beaten eggs. Use a spatula to gently but thoroughly fold the dry ingredients through the wet, then pour into the prepared tin, giving it a little shake to smooth the surface.
- BAKE: Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and use a thin, sharp knife to release the sponge from the sides of the pan - this will hep it to settle evenly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. PRO TIP: If you put a piece of baking parchment paper on the rack it will stop the delicate cake from sticking to it.
- SLICE: When the cake is completely cooled, use a long, serrated knife to cut the cake evenly through the diameter. Place the bottom piece onto a serving platter or cake stand and fit a cake ring tightly around it.
- MAKE FILLING: Beat the Quark or strained yoghurt with the sugar until smooth. Whisk the cream separately to soft peaks, then sprinkle over the cornflour/cornstarch before whisking to firm peaks. Fold the cream into the beaten quark, then fold the chopped strawberries into the mixture. Spread half of the mixture over the base of the cake, cover with the top piece of cake, pushing down gently, then spread the remaining topping over the cake.
- DECORATE: Pile the remaining strawberries on top of the cake, then sprinkle over the pistachios. Chill for at least 1 hour, preferably 2-3 in warmer weather or if you know the cake will be sitting out, before serving.
- GLAZE: For a beautifully glazed cake, soak 1 sheet of gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes to soften. In a very small saucepan heat 75ml of water with 1 tablespoon of sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, squeeze the liquid out of the gelatine sheet, then stir it into the hot sugar syrup until dissolved. Place the saucepan in a sink of cold water for 10-15 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken, then use a spoon to carefully drizzle it over the strawberries. Chill for at least an hour.
- Quark Alternative 1: Quark is hard to come by outside of Germany and is usually expensive when you do. An alternative is to make labne from 750g of Greek style yoghurt (check the ingredients to make sure it is naturally thickened, not thickened with gelatine). Line a sieve or strainer with a spotlessly clean tea towel or cheesecloth. Set the sieve over a large bowl and pour the yoghurt onto the cloth. Place in the fridge and allow to strain for 2-3 hours until the yoghurt is firm with the consistency of cream cheese. Use in place of Quark in the recipe.
- Quark Alternative 2: If you are happy to use gelatine to set the cake, proceed as follows: Place 6 sheets gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften for 5 minutes. Weigh 500g of Greek style yoghurt and beat well with 75g sugar until smooth. After the gelatine has softened, squeeze out any excess water, then place in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the gelatine dissolves. Remove from the heat, Stir in 2 tablespoons of the yoghurt, mix well until combined. Beat the yoghurt, gelatine mixture into the reserved yoghurt, then fold the yoghurt through the whipped cream. Proceed with the recipe as above. In very hot weather or if the cake will need to sit out of the fridge for some time, increase the gelatine to 8 sheets. The cake will need at least 2-3 hours to set up in the fridge before slicing.
Note: German baking recipes are always measured by weight. Imperial and cup measurments are approximate. For best and most accurate results I use and recommend a digital kitchen scale like the one below.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 440Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 186mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 2gSugar: 44gProtein: 15g
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