Culinary Sleuth

In Search of Butterkuchen

by Lynn Kerrigan


While searching for appropriate German recipes for a past issue of The Culinary Sleuth, I came across this one for butter cake and without really reading through it, added it to the copy.

Later, as I was proofreading, my mouth probably dropped several inches. Could it be? I asked. Dare I hope? I pondered. Is this the butter cake I remember as a child?

It was always a special treat. My mother would buy it from the German bakery on Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia's Northeast section. I've never seen a recipe for it before and no one I know bakes it. Needless to say, I was itching to prepare the recipe and find out.

Picture one of the hottest days in August—a steamy 92 degrees. My Victorian home is cooled the old-fashioned way—open windows and a fan or two. I had to be especially careful the sweat poring from my brow didn't accidentally fall into the dough as I kneaded my way to what I hoped was a lost childhood treasure—melt-in-the mouth butter cake.

It wasn't. But—what a nice discovery! The butter cake of my childhood had a flat-bread like base. I often licked the creamy topping off and threw the remainder in the trash. The base and topping formed two distinct parts. This Butterkuchen recipe results in a unified melding of the base and topping. The topping, in fact, appears to melt into the base. It's crunchy and buttery and still very good. Perhaps if I play with the recipe, I'll come up with the cake of my fond memory.

If anyone knows the recipe for the butter cake I'm trying to recreate please send it to me and I'll share it with readers in a future column.


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This page created February 1999


Copyright © 1998-2001, Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.


This page modified February 2007