The German mid-afternoon break is strongly bent toward Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake), or the “kaffeeklatsch” as it’s more familiarily known. It’s also the country I was first introduced to taking loose-leaf tea in the afternoon in place of coffee; as well as on the weekends – where it was often enjoyed over a long and leisurely weekend breakfast or even more leisurely Sunday brunch.
While it differs from an English afternoon tea in a number of ways, it still achieves the objective of taking that time out of one’s day to step back, relax, and enjoy a refreshing cup or pot of tea with friends and family as you chat about all the latest happenings.
Granted, in Germany you’re more likely to sweeten your tea with rock sugar, eat a piece (or two!) of normal-sized German kuchen or torte or other pastry (Bienenstich, anyone?) and forget about the sandwiches and scones, or drink fruit tea that is chock-full of lovely big chunks of rosehips, hibiscus, berries, cinnamon and other fruity and spicy ingredients.
One of my favorite German cakes to eat with black tea is the one detailed here, German Nusskuchen. It’s easy to make, isn’t a finicky batter so turns out every time, and is a nice dense, not-too-sweet cake that pairs well with dark tea or coffee. Its close crumb is punctuated with chunks of hazelnut and chocolate, and is sturdy enough to be almost dunkable!
I’m big on prepping my ingredients beforehand and having everything ready to just dump into pot, pan or bowl. I love my red nesting prep bowls I got awhile ago from Sur la Table, though anything similar will do.
The cake comes together in typical order – mix wet, then incorporate dry, then the chunky ingredients at the end. I do use a hand mixer for the wet ingredients, and to get the dry incorporated. Then I switch to a spatula to fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate.
Note the nice chunks of hazelnut and chocolate, and the close texture of the cake. A nice sprinkling of powder sugar finishes it off, though one could frost by dripping a bit of chocolate ganache over the top. As I usually eat it with a cup of tea, the chocolate is too sweet for me, so I leave it at plain cake and a little powder sugar to pretty it up.
This recipe comes from German friends of mine. It’s best enjoyed with friends and a cup of tea or coffee!
German Nutcake (Nusskuchen)
- 375 grams all-purpose flour
- 6 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. finely ground instant coffee
- 200 grams sugar
- 250 grams butter (2.5 sticks)
- 5-6 eggs (5 large, 6 if small eggs)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 125 grams hazelnuts, chopped
- 100 grams chocolate bar, chopped (I use semi-sweet)
DirectionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together and beat until fluffy and the mixture is light yellow. Add the egg and vanilla; beat well.
Add the dry ingredients in about 3 installments, beating until well blended. Fold in the chopped hazelnut and chocolate until well incorporated.
Spoon the batter into a greased bundt pan, smoothing out the batter before putting into the oven. Bake 45-50 minutes (check at 45 minutes; if a toothpick comes out clean and it’s medium brown in color, it’s done).
Let cool in the pan 20 minutes on a wire rack, then turn out. May sprinkle with powder sugar when cooled, or drizzle chocolate ganache over the top if you prefer an icing. It keeps well for a few days.