Classic German Butterkuchen or butter cake is fluffy, sweet, and delicious! It’s a simple yeasted cake topped with blocks of butter and sprinkled with sugar – this recipe came from my Oma and it’s one of the best!
One of the easiest sweet, yeasted, cakes!
Butterkuchen is a classic German bake. The beauty of this cake is in the simplicity of it and it gets its name of butter cake because small cubes of butter are pressed into the dough before baking!
My fondest memory of this recipe is actually pretty recent. I was visiting my Oma a few years ago and she often has a hard time sleeping, so when my mom and I woke up around 6 am and went into the kitchen she had just baked an entire butter cake and it was so warm and delicious! We were still supposed to go to breakfast but we were barely hungry anymore because we ate so much of it!
Butterkuchen or Zuckerkuchen
For most people butterkuchen and zuckerkuchen are the same thing just with different names. Often the variation in names come from family or region. Both are a simple yeast cake topped with cubes of butter and a thick layer of sugar. Sometimes flaked almonds are sprinkled on top but my Oma’s butterkuchen doesn’t have them so neither does this recipe.
How to store leftovers
This is best served immediately after baking. If you plan to have leftovers, try not to cut the portion that you are saving and wrap it up with plastic or a different airtight container at room temperature.
To reheat, preheat the oven to 350 F and place the leftover cake on a baking sheet. Bake the cake for about 8 minutes and then let it cool for 5 minutes before serving. The cut edge will dry out slightly but you can just cut of about an inch at the edge and the rest should still be perfectly moist.
Tips for making this Yeasted Cake
- Unlike many other yeasted doughs, this one doesn’t need to be completely smooth. Because the pan holds the shape of the cake and we want it to have a light and fluffy texture it’s actually better to under knead the dough rather than over knead it.
- If the dough keeps shrinking back when stretching it out, let it sit and rest for five minutes, then continue to stretch it. Let it rest to allow the gluten in the dough to relax.
- Make sure the butter that you press into the dough is cold – this creates the characteristic dimples and puddles of moisture in the cake.
Ingredients for Almond Pear Butterkuchen
- All Purpose Flour: Any all purpose flour will work for this butterkcuhen! I have not yet tried any other flours with this recipe.
- Sugar: This recipe uses granulated sugar in the dough as well as a generous amount sprinkled on top to create a delicious sugar crust.
- Milk: The cake uses milk as the liquid in the dough; however, it will also work with non-dairy milks such as almond or light coconut milk.
- Butter: This dough is different from most in that there is no oil or butter in the actual dough. Rather the dough is dimpled with cold cubes of butter before baking.
- Yeast: In this recipe, instant yeast is used. However, if you are using active dry, simply bloom the yeast in the milk alone first and then proceed with the recipe.
- Eggs: I use standard large eggs from the store.
- Almond & Vanilla Extract: Both of these extracts add extra flavor to the dough.
- Salt: Salt is added to balance out the sweetness of the recipe.
How to make German Butter Cake
Make the Yeasted Dough
- Start by adding the flour, sugar, and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the dry ingredients together, then add in the lukewarm milk, egg, extracts, and salt. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low speed for 10-15 minutes. The dough should come together but can still be a little sticky.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl that is at least twice the size. Cover the bowl with a lid or damp towel, and set somewhere warm to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Assembling the Butterkuchen
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- After an hour has passed, and the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out by briefly kneading it.
- Gently stretch it out from the center to the edges of the pan. If the dough continues to shrink back, let it rest for five minutes before continuing.
- Once the dough has been fully stretched, place it somewhere warm to rest for ten minutes.
- While the dough is resting, cut the cold butter into 1/4″ cubes.
- Now, dimple the dough about 3/4″ apart with the handle of a wooden spoon.
- Press the cold cubed butter into the dimples.
- Layer the sugar over the dough and butter. Leave the cake to rest for another 10 minutes.
- Bake the butterkuchen on the middle rack for 30 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
German Butter Cake (Butterkuchen)
- Stand Mixer
- 500 grams ap flour
- 10 grams instant yeast
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 300 ml milk lukewarm
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 125 grams butter cold
- 100 grams granulated sugar
Making the Dough
- In a large stand mixing bowl, add flour, sugar and yeast, and whisk together.
- Add lukewarm milk, egg, salt and extracts and knead together with the dough hook on low speed for 10-15 minutes or until the dough has come together.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or proofing bag and set it somewhere warm to rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour until it has doubled in size.
Shaping & Baking the Butterkuchen
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- After the dough has doubled in size and be very soft and puffy.
- Knock out any air in the dough by briefly kneading it and place it on the lined baking sheet.
- Gently stretch and press the dough out from the center until the dough reaches the edges of the pan.
- Cover the pan and let the dough rest somewhere warm for 10 more minutes.
- While the dough rests, cut the cold butter into 1/4" cubes.
- After 10 minutes, dimple the dough about every 3/4" with the handle of a wooden spoon.
- Press the cubes of butter into the dimples. If you don't have enough dimples for the butter, just add more!
- Let the assembled dough rest for 10 more minutes.
- Bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack, rotate the pan after 15 minutes so that it bakes evenly.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack before slicing.
absolutely blown away by how good this was. i have made a lot of yeasted breads/cakes, and i have FAILED at making a lot of yeasted doughs- i live in an area with an average humidity of around 80%, usually higher, and this has interesting effects on some recipes. despite that, this dough came out spectacularly. the dimples of butter are so rich and moist, and for a dough with none of that present IN the dough itself, it’s amazing how well the flavor comes through. the sugar topping is necessary to add just the right amount of crunch and sweetness to bring the whole thing together. this is a great starter recipe for anyone who’s scared of yeasted breads and cakes but wants to make something that absolutely will taste great and is relatively hard to mess up in my opinion. you recommended warming it up in the oven to reheat, but ive been eating it after 10 or 15 seconds in the microwave and it’s still delicious. one of the best recipes ive stumbled upon on tiktok by far!
Thank you so so much!!! I am so happy it worked for you and you enjoyed it!
this was absolutely delicious! it passed muster with my german friend too. very good recipe and not too hard to make!
Hi Shannon! Thank you so much, I’m so glad you and your friend liked it!
What are the customary measurements?
Hi Sophie, unfortunately I don’t have the customary measurements because I only bake with a scale. There are some conversion sites online however there is no accurate way to do that so it will always be a little off. If it’s possible for you I highly recommend buying a scale as it makes baking much more accurate.
I cannot wait to try this! Maybe I missed it, but could you tell me what size pan you used? Is it a half sheet pan? Thank you for sharing this on TikTok!
Yay! Thank you so much Amanda! I use an American half size baking sheet – which are about 18″ x 13″. I hope you like it!
My partner sent this to me on TikTok since I’ve been very into baking for the past few years. My family is very picky when it comes to pastry, so when I bring things home for gatherings I always try to bring home something simple but delicious, that really appeals to all tastes. I saw this and knew it fit the bill! We had an early Easter gathering Saturday and everyone was thrilled with this. I hand kneaded in a bowl with a hard spatula for 15 minutes. I was worried I was adding too much flour when the wetness seemed to be too much to knead, but it ended up being a non issue. It rose beautifully (I used bloomed active dry yeast, ten minutes in the warm milk with a little bit of sugar), and the bake time was spot-on. 10/10 will be making this again for sure and have shared it with all my friends who bake!
Hi Amy! Thank you so much!!! I am so happy that it went over well and that it worked out ok with kneading it by hand. Thank you so much for leaving a review
This was very easy to make – we made this and the stollen on the same day! The dough’s a beautiful texture and the topping isn’t too sweet. Beware – makes a lot! I’d probably halve the recipe if you’re only making it for a few people. We both noted that this would be a fun recipe to do with children especially the hole-poking and placing the butter before baking. Would make again.
Hi Helen and Vicki! Thank you so much for this review, I’m so glad that you found it easy to make! Yes, I could totally see halving it for just a few people so that you can eat it all as fresh as possible!
I haven’t made this yet but am very excited to. I wondered if it’s possible for this recipe to be halved? I know it calls for one egg but didn’t know if it could be beaten, then weighed out and halved?
Hi Amber! Yes if you split the egg (or even if you don’t) this recipe should be no problem to halve!!!
Such an easy and delicious recipe!
My husband and I wouldn’t be able to eat a whole loaf by ourselves quickly enough (rather, we shouldn’t. Not wouldn’t 😉 ), so I made a half batch by halving all the ingredients other than the egg, which I left whole. The cake turned out great with a subtle almond flavor. Highly recommend!
Hi Alyssa! Thank you so much for your review and I’m so happy you enjoyed it!!!
Any hints for baking this at high altitude?
Hi Megan! Because it is a yeast risen recipe, it should work without any adjustments at high altitude! Let me know if you have any other questions.
This worked beautifully, even at high altitude. My grandmother didn’t do the dimples with butter, so I brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar after baking. My dad was so happy, he almost ate the whole kuchen!
Yay! I am so happy to hear that it worked out and that your dad loved it so much!!!
Hello, Does this cake freeze well? Thank you for sharing your baking talent so freely! I’m excited to try this recipe!
Hi! It’s definitely best to eat it fresh because it is a yeasted cake. But you could freeze individual pieces and then let them defrost in the fridge overnight and potentially lightly toast them in a pan before eating! I hope that helps and thank you!
I baked this yesterday in a cake tin, and it turned out delicious! I will definitely try making this again