18 February 2012

Buttercake - 'Butterkuchen'

Buttercake, consisting of a fluffy yeast-dough base and topped with sweet and crunchy sliced almonds, is very traditional and often served with afternoon coffee or tea. If at all possible, the cake should be baked and eaten on the same day and it tastes best when it is still a little bit warm. The cake is very simple and easy to make, but its flavour is very delicate and it is not too sweet. Some single cream or whipping cream is poured on the cake when it comes out of the oven, making it moist and enhancing the buttery flavour. I really recommend using fresh yeast for this, as the yeasty flavour is central to this cake and dry yeast just does not taste quite as good. I buy my fresh yeast in larger batches on ebay, where it is sold by a number of professional bakers in England. The yeast I received was always very fresh and of excellent quality and arrived within a day of buying it. I immediately cut it into 20g portions when it arrives, wrap it in tin foil and keep it in the freezer. 

This makes one square or rectangular cake of about 25 by 25 cm or 20 by 30 cm. It cuts into about 12 slices. The recipe can easily be doubled  for a larger cake tin.

For the dough:

250 g plain flour
60 g sugar (or more, if you like it sweeter)
20 g fresh yeast (or one sachet dry)
125 ml milk
1 egg yolk
30 g butter

For the topping:

50 g sliced almonds
50 g sugar
50 g butter, cut into small pieces
100 ml single or whipping cream

Combine the flour and the sugar. Dissolve the fresh yeast in the milk and pour on top of the flour. Leave to stand for about 20 minutes. Add the egg yolk and melted butter and knead for a few minutes until you have a soft and fluffy ball of dough (if using dry yeast, just combine all dough ingredients straight away). Cover and leave to rise for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Roll out the dough to fit your baking tin or tray (this should be greased). Leave to rise again for about 30 minutes. Punch some holes in the dough with the handle of a wooden cooking spoon (or use your fingers). Top the cake first with the sliced almonds, sprinkle on the sugar and finish with the butter, cut into very small pieces. Bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes. If you use a cake tin with a loose bottom I recommend placing this in a baking tray to avoid melting butter dripping into the oven.

Remove the cake from the oven and carefully pour on the cream – I punch a few more holes in the cake before I do so, to ensure that the cream is absorbed into the cake. Leave to cool slightly and eat while still warm. 

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