Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (2024)

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Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (1)

by: Gerhild Fulson / Cookbook Author, Blogger, German Oma!

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ThisButter Cakerecipe, akaButterkuchen (sometimes calledZuckerkuchen), is a traditional German cake often served for afternoon coffee.

There's nothing quite like enjoying German cakes, especially at coffee time. That coffee time,Kaffeeklatsch, happens every day at our house at 3 pm.

If you drop by then, you may just find this delectableButterkuchenon the table, served with my Mutti'sSammeltassen(collectable cups) that she lovingly brought back from Germany.

German butter cake is a delicious yeast cake that is light and fluffy with a sweet gooey buttery topping. It's so good when served still warm from the oven with a dollop of whipped cream and a hot cup of coffee or hot tea!

Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (4)

In the photo above, this butter cake is simply topped with sugar and sliced almonds.

Butterkuchen or Zuckerkuchen?

Butterkuchen (butter cake) and Zuckerkuchen (sugar cake) are used interchangeably for this classic German sweet cake recipe because this simple yeasted sheet cake is traditionally topped with lots of butter and sugar.

Whatever you call it, it is absolutely WUNDERBAR!

Tips for Baking with Yeast

This is a recipe you'll love to get your hands into ... it's fun to knead!

But if you are hesitant to make this German butter cake recipe because you haven't worked with yeast before, don't worry; it's actually quite simple and easy to make. Follow these tips and you may just find yourself making yeast cakes quite often.

  • Don't use ingredients that are hot or cold. Ideally, everything should be at room temperature. The heat can kill the yeast and the cold can hinder the growth of the yeast cells.
  • Check the expiry date on the yeast package. Do NOT use old yeast. It will not rise!
  • You need to factor in the time for the yeast dough to rise when calculating how long you need from starting the cake to serving time. It's a quick cake to make, but it takes time to rise.
  • When letting the dough or cake rise (often both need to rise - just check your recipe), do so in a warm, draft-free area. A great place can be your oven. Often I'll briefly turn it on and then off - just enough to take the chill out (you should be able to easily touch the inside). Then put the covered dough/cake in and close the door. Warm and draft-free. Remember to take it out before turning the oven on to bake it!

The yeast dough for this butter cake recipe is abasic cake yeast doughthat can be used in many different recipes.

How to make German Butter Cake

  • To make the yeast dough, mix 1 tablespoon active dry yeast with a ¼ cup lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a large mixing bowl and let it stand for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup lukewarm milk, ½ cup oil, 1 large egg, and ½ cup sugar to the yeast mixture and mix.
  • Beat in 2 cups all-purpose flour and mix well. Let it stand 10 minutes. Keep adding more flour until your dough is nice and soft.
  • Take the dough and knead it until it is smooth and elastic. You don't want too much of a sticky dough, so add more flour if necessary.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen cloth. Put it in a warm, draft-free area for about 30 to 60 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Roll out dough with a rolling pin and place in a greased jelly roll baking sheet.
  • Now for the yummy topping: prick dough with your finger to make small indentations, then brush enough milk or cream to cover the dough.
  • Cut some cold butter into smaller pieces and place them in the indentations.
  • Sprinkle a thick layer of sugar and sliced almonds over the top.
  • Cover once more with a clean kitchen towel and let stand in a warm, draft-free place for another 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy warm and delicious Butterkuchen with your favorite drink!

Additions and Variations

Instead of using a jelly roll pan, I'll sometimes divide the dough into two springform pans. That way, I can top one cake with butter, sugar, and almond slices and the other with butter and a cinnamon-sugar mixture. YUM!

You can also add sour cream to the topping resulting in a completely different cake.

Another delicious alternative is to cover the dough with a streusel topping.

Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (5)

How to make crumb topping (streusel)

Streusel is so easy to make when you keep the following ratios in mind.

  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part cold butter
  • 2 parts flour

I usually make this using 1 cup sugar, 1 cup butter, and 2 cups flour. However, if you're wanting more or less, just adjust accordingly.

Mix together quickly (I often use a pastry cutter) until you have a crumbly mixture. Crumble it on top of your unbaked cake. You may need to add a few minutes extra to the baking time.

Want a German butter cake recipe that's even quicker to make?

Do you have a bread machine? You do? Then, you can make even quicker work of this recipe.

If you're looking for a really, really easy version of this cake, then check out my otherGerman Butter Cake Recipe that uses a bread machine to make the dough. Faster. Easier. Just as delicious!

Grab your copy of Oma's favorites in herSpecial Occasion German Cakes & Tortes e-Cookbook.

Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (6)

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

Lydia Remembers...

I have so many wunderbar memories in the kitchen with my Oma, and have had MANY of her most popular and traditional recipes, like this authentic German butter cake!

I've enjoyed this recipe multiple times in Oma's kitchen and it's become one of my favorites by far! Served with her homemade mouth-watering whipped cream, now that's a good dessert! My favorite part of this recipe is taking a great big spoonful of whipped cream and plopping it over the top.

This is such a great choice for dessert when having company over. I know it sure did impress me when I first had it at Oma's! It seems like such a simple dessert and it is! Simple, but the absolute yumminess with each and every bite is absolutely wunderbar.

Oma has made this recipe so easy to make and with little hints and tricks to help you along the way of your kitchen journey!

This recipe goes so well with a hot cup of coffee or peppermint tea. Just sit back, relax, and take in all those delicious German flavors! Take my word for it, when Oma makes it, it is ALWAYS delicious.

Learn a little bit about me,Lydia, and my kitchen adventures with Oma!

Oma Says:

As with anything made with yeast, this tastes best served the same day it is made. Served still slightly warm from the oven with a bit of whipped cream, it is absolutely YUMMY!

Perfect for special occasions or for afternoon kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake).

Other German cake recipes perfect for coffee time

  • Oma's Marble Pound Cake
  • Oma's Pound Cake ~ Sandkuchen
  • Oma's Crumb Cake ~ Streuselkuchen
  • Mutti's Poppy Seed Cake ~ Mohnkuchen

Ready to make this Butterkuchen?

Is the recipe below locked?Here'swhy.

Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (8)

Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe

ThisButter Cakerecipe, akaButterkuchen (sometimes calledZuckerkuchen), is a traditional German cake often served for afternoon coffee.

It's a delicious yeast cake that is light and fluffy with a sweet gooey buttery topping. It's so good when served still warm from the oven with a dollop of whipped cream and a hot cup of coffee or hot tea!

Prep Time

90 minutes

Cook Time

25 minutes

Total Time

115 minutes


Makes 20 pieces


Yeast Dough

  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) active dry yeast
  • ¼cup (60 milliliter) lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulatedsugar
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) lukewarm milk
  • ½cup (120 milliliters) neutral oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ½cup (100 grams) granulatedsugar
  • about 4 - 4½cups (520 - 585 g) all-purpose flour

Simple Topping

  • ½cup (120 milliliters) milk or cream
  • ⅓cup (76 grams) cold butter
  • ⅔cup (133 grams) granulatedsugar
  • ¾cup (75 grams) sliced almonds


  1. In a large bowl, mix yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes. This should be foamy. (It will be if the yeast is not old.)
  2. Mix in 1 cup milk, oil, egg, and ½cup sugar. Beat in 2 cups flour and mix well. Let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Add more flour until a soft dough results.
  4. Remove from bowl and knead until smooth and elastic, adding flour ONLY if necessary if it is too sticky.
  5. Put smooth dough into a greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and put in a draft-free warm place for about 30 - 60 minutes, until doubled in size.
  6. Grease a 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan. Roll out dough to fit pan and place in pan.
  7. Make small hollows in the surface of the dough with your fingers.
  8. Brush dough with ½cup milk or cream.
  9. Cut butter into small pieces and place in hollows.
  10. Sprinkle ⅔cup sugar and nuts over dough.
  11. Cover and let stand in a warm draft-free place for about 30 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
  13. Let cool slightly and cut into 20 pieces.


  • Ideally, everything should be at room temperature. The heat can kill the yeast and the cold can hinder the growth of the yeast cells.
  • Check expiry date on yeast package. Do NOT use old yeast. It will not rise.
  • When letting the dough rise, do so in a warm, draft-free area.
  • Store any leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • If you have a bread machine, you can make quick work of making the dough. Take a look at my other German butter cake recipe.

* * * * *

Unless otherwise noted recipe, images and content © Just like Oma |

10.02.2022 revision update

You might like these

  • German Butter Cake using a Bread Machine – Oma's Butterkuchen Rezept

    This German Butter Cake is traditional for afternoon "Kaffeeklatsch" and is so easy to make. Use your bread maker and cut down on the work.

  • German Poppy Seed Cake with Streusel: Mutti's Mohnkuchen

    My Mutti's Poppy Seed Cake recipe, Mohnkuchen, is so wunderbar! Streusel covered and an easy yeast base, this is so simple to make. Delicious and, oh, so traditional. You really have to give this one a try!

  • German Poppy Seed Roll – Oma's Mohnrolle

    Oma's poppy seed roll, Mohnrolle, is so easy to make. Use your bread machine to whip up the dough, mix the filling (or use canned), roll it all together, bake, and ENJOY! Yes, that easy!

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Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (21)

Oma's Butterkuchen / Zuckerkuchen - Butter Cake Recipe

By Oma Gerhild Fulson
Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (22)
Oma's Butterkuchen, aka Zuckerkuchen, is a traditional German Butter Cake (Sugar Cake) that's often served for afternoon coffee. Loved by all, easy to make and so delicious to eat!

Ingredients: yeast,sugar,milk,oil,egg,flour,almonds,butter,

For the full recipe, scroll up ...

Words to the Wise

"Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."

Proverbs 11:24-25 (NLT)

Top of Butter Cake Recipe

Oma's Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) – German Butter Cake Recipe (2024)


Why is my butter cake hard? ›

Toughness in cakes is caused by over-mixing, or the wrong type of flour. Solution: Mix your cake according to the recipe. There is a function to the order in which ingredients are added to create the right texture. As soon as you begin mixing flour with a liquid and a fat, gluten is developed.

What is gooey butter cake made of? ›

Gooey butter cake
A slice of Gooey butter cake, garnished with powdered sugar and raspberries.
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateSt. Louis, Missouri Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Main ingredientsWheat flour, butter, sugar, eggs, powdered sugar, cream cheese
1 more row

What makes a cake fluffier butter or oil? ›

Oil cakes tend to bake up loftier with a more even crumb and stay moist and tender far longer than cakes made with butter.

Why is my butter cake dry and crumbly? ›

Why is my cake dry? Cakes crumble because they've dried out too much. From years of baking, I know that dry cakes happen for one of two reasons; using too much of your dry ingredients or over-baking your cake.

What is Kentucky butter cake made of? ›

A Kentucky Butter cake is the simplest cake you can find. The ingredients are truly pantry staples: eggs, butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, and buttermilk. Don't skip the buttermilk. Butternilk is essential for the rise of the cake and its tender texture.

What is another name for a butter cake? ›

There are two main types of cakes: butter cakes (also known as shortened cakes) and foam cakes. The distinction between these two broad categories of cake is in the fat content.

Why is butter cake called butter cake? ›

A butter cake is a cake in which one of the main ingredients is butter. Butter cake is baked with basic ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and leavening agents such as baking powder or baking soda. It is considered one of the quintessential cakes in American baking.

What to do if cake becomes hard? ›

Formulate a cake soak: You can make a cake soak using simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water), evaporated milk, buttermilk, or a liqueur. With a wooden skewer or toothpick, pole holes in the cake. Then use a pastry brush to blot the liquid over the surface of the cake layers to moisten the cake.

What to do if the butter isn't soft enough? ›

  1. Step 1: Pour 2 cups of water into a microwave-safe cup or bowl. I always use a liquid measuring cup.
  2. Step 2: Microwave it for 2 minutes until extremely hot. ...
  3. Step 3: Remove water from the microwave. ...
  4. Step 4: The radiant heat will soften the butter in about 10 minutes.

How do you keep a cake from hardening? ›

Using an air-tight container is the best and easiest way to keep your cake from getting exposed to air. However, if you don't have one of those, you can wrap your cake in cling film, or if it's iced, place a large inverted bowl over it to trap the air.


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