Back in the gluten-filled days, my mother-in-law would bring home cake from one of the bakeries down the street whenever we visited Kassel. Our favorite kinds of cake came from the café a little further away from their house, a little joint where the owner actually still baked himself. He made all of his goods without relying on industrially made baking mixes, rising agents and other chemical enhancements. Everything that came out of his oven always tasted amazing. We particularly loved his German Butter Cake, a creation so perversely soft, sweet and buttery, that we would chow it down the minute a piece would come through the door and engage in a cordial “No, you eat it” “No, YOU eat it!” for the last piece.
Often, when my mother-in-law would unpack her bearings, the butter cake was still a little warm, having been taken out of the oven a mere two hours ago. Unfortunately the owner came down with some kind of illness and couldn’t continue business with this (his second) shop. He closed it down a couple of years ago, and we never got to eat German Butter Cake again, because it never occurred to us to travel to visit the other shop, which was a bit out of town. Not like I could have eaten anything there. Anyway, I forgot about German Butter Cake for a while. But then, recently, a recipe for German Butter Cake came my way and I began reliving the idea. But the recipe I had spotted wasn’t quite what I had come to know as The Original. Our version had some kind of creamy component drizzled and then brushed over it post-baking, something that definitely wasn’t butter but more like crème double or whipping cream. I couldn’t find a recipe that involved any of the required elements (yeast-based dough, whipping cream or some other topping), so I decided to bake up a new version myself. And wow, it was so amazingly soft and delicious!
Yes, this cake is pure evil when it comes to calories and fat. But it’s worth every bite. I had to hold back from eating the entire thing all by myself. I ended up gifting the neighbors some, asked the husband to eat the rest and settled on merely one piece, followed by another the next day, heated for about twenty seconds in the microwave, to reactivate that warm, comforting feeling. So great! And no, I probably won’t be making it again any time soon, because you know, it’s just a lot of fat and sugar. But it would make an amazing ending to a barbeque with friends, and if you only cut out small squares, then they’re only half as evil!
For a rectangular baking tray measuring 18cm x 28cm (about half a regular-sized baking tray that comes with your oven), double recipe to fill an entire standard-sized baking tray).
For the dough:
1 tablespoon dry-active yeast
200g Greek yoghurt
3 large eggs
60g butter (melted)
300g gluten-free flour mix (I used 1 part Schaer Mix-It!, one part Rewe Frei-von Mix and one part Harina de Reposteria from AdPan)
1 tsp gluten-free helpers (e.g. xanthan or guar gum, arrowroot flours or ground physillium husks)
1,5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
one dash salt
80ml milk, divided (one part to to dilute the salt, one part to dilute the yeast)
For the topping:
30g butter (cut into small pieces)
100g shaved almonds
150g whipping cream
Place the dry-active yeast into a bowl and add the a bit of the sugar sugar and half of the milk. Dilute the yeast using a whisk. Add the Greek yoghurt and the eggs, the rest of the sugar and whisk until you have a homogenous batter.
In a separate bowl mix the gluten-free flour, the gluten-free helpers as well as the baking powder and baking soda.
Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients. Melt the butter and dilute the salt in the remainder of the milk, and pour both onto the dough and knead for a good five minutes until the butter and milk have been incorporated well and no lumps remain.
Line a baking tray (18cm x 28cm or half a standard-sized baking tray that comes with your oven) with baking parchment, spread the dough onto the baking parchment evenly using the back of a spatula (you can dip it in water and wash occasionally to make this process easier). In case you don’t have a small rectangular baking tray, I suggest placing something oven proof onto the empty side of the baking tray so that the dough keeps its rectangular shape on both sides and also so it doesn’t spread out indefinitely and actually rises vertically rather than horizontally. I folded over a silicon baking form (which I used to bake rectangular buns) for this purpose and placed it next to the unbaked cake as a type of wall and it worked like a charm. You could also use several smaller oven-proof vessels or something else to keep your cake I shape!
Turn your oven to 200°C.
Let the dough rise for about twenty minutes. Then, proceed to dig holes into the batter with the back of a fork or a knife. Cut up the butter into small chunks and place into the holes. Evenly spread out the shaved almonds over the dough and butter pieces, drizzle with sugar and cinnamon.
Bake for about 18 to twenty minutes and remove from oven. Pour the whipping cream evenly over the cake and allow the whipped cream to soak into the cake until it is just about warm. Remove from baking tray and serve immediately.This Gluten-free German Butter Cake will keep well for up to two days when stored in a tightly sealed box. I suggest re-heating it a little bit for extra fluffiness, but eating it without re-heating is also wonderful!