Vanilla and chocolate cake layers, Amaretto flavoured cream and toasted almonds – this cake is brilliant for any celebration, but especially great as a treat around Christmas with its flavours of chocolate and marzipan. As German cream cakes go this is a simpler one, because you only have to make the cake layers, whip the cream and toast the almonds. This makes it perfect if you’ve always wanted to try making a cream cake like you see them in German cafés but thought it was too complicated.
The kind of cake in this recipe is called a “Wiener Boden” in Germany, so a “Vienna cake”. It is similar in the process and finished result to the “Biskuit”, or fatless sponge, but there are a couple of differences. Both types of cake are made by whisking eggs and sugar to their maximum volume and then carefully folding in flour, no baking powder in sight. And both types of cake are very airy, light and fluffy. The difference in the “Wiener Boden” is the addition of butter. This makes the cake a bit moister and gives it some more flavour too, but it still keeps its lightness.
In this recipe the eggs are first heated over a water bath before whisking them up. This makes them much more stable for folding in the flour and much less air gets knocked out, resulting in a lighter cake. For this specific cake I have split the mixture into 1/3 and 2/3 right after whisking up the eggs. This means it has to go through much less folding, as you can fold the cocoa powder into the chocolate cake along with the flour. Otherwise this would be an extra step at the end once everything is combined and the vanilla cake portion filled into the tin. But this means too much of the air gets knocked out of the cake mix and the chocolate cake is much denser than the vanilla. It might seem like a bit of a faff having to divide the eggs and all the remaining ingredients, but it’s really worth it to get an airy and fluffy cake.
I have kept the decorations for this cake relatively simple, just opting for some toasted almonds around the edges and some piped swirls and more flaked almonds on top. You could also add some chocolate decorations on top if you wanted – just make this cake your own. There is actually a trick to getting the almonds around the outside, or rather two tricks you can try out and see which one works better for you. The first trick is to simply tip the cake: once you have it securely on a cake board or stand, pick the cake up and tip it slightly. Then you can press the almonds on by pretty much just dropping them onto the sides. The second trick is to use a halved lemon to transfer the almonds. Press the lemon cut side down into the almonds and then gently onto the cake. There won’t be any lemon flavour in the cake afterwards, so don’t worry about that. Let me know which way works better for you.
You will need
For the cake layers
240g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
60g butter, melted
20g cocoa powder
For the filling and decoration
600ml whipping cream
40g icing sugar
150g flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4. Line the bottom of two 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
- Put the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly so the egg doesn’t set, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Take off the heat and whisk for 15-20 minutes, either using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, until you get a stable foamy mixture. Fill 1/3 of the mix into a second bowl.
- Sift 2/3 of the flour over the bigger part of the egg mixture and carefully fold in. Put 2/3 of the melted butter in a bowl and mix in a few tablespoons of the cake mix. Once mixed in, carefully fold this into the vanilla cake mix. Fill into one of the cake tins.
- Sift the remaining 1/3 of the flour and the cocoa powder over the smaller bowl of egg mixture and carefully fold in. Mix a few tablespoons with the remaining 1/3 of the butter and fold into the chocolate cake mix. Fill into the second cake tin and bake for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 160°C / gas mark 3 and bake the chocolate cake for another 15-20 minutes and the vanilla cake for another 25-30 minutes. They are done when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.
- For the filling, whip the cream to stiff peaks with 70ml of the Amaretto and the icing sugar. Chill until needed. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until golden brown. Keep them moving so they don’t burn. Leave to cool.
- When the cakes are cooled, cut the vanilla cake into two even layers and brush the remaining 30ml of Amaretto over both layers. Put one layer onto a cake board or stand and put a cake ring around it. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream evenly onto the cake and the put the chocolate layer on top. Spread over another 1/3 of the cream and top with the second vanilla layer. Cover and chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Chill the remaining whipped cream as well.
- Take the cake out of the fridge and remove the cake ring. Spread most of the remaining cream all over the cake and smooth it out as best as you can. Fill the rest into a piping bag with a star nozzle. Decorate the sides of the cake with the toasted flaked almonds. Pipe swirls of cream around the top of the cake and a small ring of blobs on the inside. Fill the small ring with some flaked almonds. Will keep in the fridge for 2 days.