Baking, Dessert, Pastries, Seasonal

German Strawberry Cake

Every year when the strawberry season starts, this cake reliably pops up in my head. It’s an old German classic and I’m sure my grandma’s grandma has made it (one way or another). So when I got some fresh strawberries for the weekend, it was inevitable to make this cake. When you look at it, the recipe seems oddly long and complicated for a simple strawberry cake and you might shy back. You should not.

There are ways to take shortcuts like replacing the homemade pastry cream with a store-bought vanilla pudding or even entirely omitting it. The same goes for the shortbread crust. It does improve texture and flavor nicely but when pressed for time, you can reduce this cake to the vanilla cake layer, the strawberries, and the glaze and just compensate by eating more whipped cream with that 😉

If you do have extra time on your hands – and during this Corona season most of us do – go for the extra and make everything from scratch. The result is so worth it, you won’t regret the extra effort. 

The cake tastes best at room temperature, so take it out of the refrigerator a little bit before you’re planning to serve it. 

German Strawberry Cake

Recipe by Tobias
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • Shortbread Crust
  • 155g All-Purpose Flour

  • 70g Granulated Sugar

  • 125g unsalted, European-Style Butter

  • 1 pinch Salt

  • Vanilla Cake
  • 3 large Eggs

  • 125g Granulated Sugar

  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

  • 125g All-Purpose Flour

  • 1 tsp Baking Powder

  • 70g unsalted, European-Style Butter melted and cooled

  • Pastry Cream
  • 240ml Whole Milk

  • 50g Granulated Sugar

  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

  • 2 large Egg Yolks

  • 15g Corn Starch

  • 30g unsalted, European-Style Butter

  • Assembling
  • 1kg Fresh Strawberries

  • 1 tbsp Strawberry Preserves

  • 50ml Lemon Juice

  • 1 package Tortenguß (red)

  • 30g Granulated Sugar

  • 250ml Water

Directions

  • Shortbread Crust
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180° C) and make sure, all ingredients are at room temperature.
  • Whisk sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl to combine. Mix in the butter and incorporate everything. The mixture will be pretty crumbly.
  • Evenly pat the mixture into a 9-inch baking dish. I like to use aluminum ones for this.
  • Bake for 9 – 12 minutes until the crust is set and has a light brown color.
  • Set aside to cool completely, ideally overnight.
  • Vanilla Cake
  • Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper but do not grease.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature.
  • In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs and sugar until very pale and fluffy (ribbon stage).
  • Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  • Mix flour and baking powder and carefully fold into your egg mixture using a rubber spatula. Make sure you don’t have any pockets of flour left.
  • Pour in the butter on the side of the bowl and fold in.
  • Transfer batter to cake pan and bake for 25 – 35 minutes until the cake releases from the sides and a stick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Set aside to cool completely, ideally overnight.
  • Pastry Cream
  • In a small saucepan, heat half the sugar, milk, a pinch of salt, and vanilla until hot but not boiling.
  • In the meantime, whisk egg yolks, the remaining sugar, and corn starch until well combined and smooth. At first, it will look way too dry but just keep whisking and you will end up with a smooth and pale yellow cream.
  • When the milk mixture is hot, very slowly whisk it into the egg mixture.
  • Return to the saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens up.
  • Take off the heat and whisk in the butter until it’s dissolved and the mixture is shiny.
  • Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.
  • Cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  • Assembly
  • Use a 9-inch cake ring to make things easier for you.Strawberry Cake Layers
  • Place the shortbread crust onto the cake stand, drizzle with lemon juice and spread strawberry preserves evenly across the entire layer.
  • Cut off the top crust of the vanilla cake to the desired thickness of your cake layer (I prefer 1 – 1.5 inches) and place it on top of the shortbread crust. Optional: drizzle cake with an orange liqueur such as Cointreau.
  • Whisk pastry cream until smooth and spread over vanilla cake in an even layer.
  • Cut strawberries in half and decoratively arrange onto the pastry cream layer.
  • Make the jelly topping by combining the package with sugar and water and bring to a boil until the liquid starts to turn clear.
  • Add lemon juice and evenly distribute over the strawberries.
  • Chill the entire cake until the glaze has set.
  • Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream and a cup of coffee.
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