German Cake (Streusel Kuchen)

 A yeasty cake base topped with a generous layer of streusel this is one of Barossa’s most widely recognised food traditions.

March 7, 2021

Streusel Kuchen

Our food memories are powerful stories that have the ability to hurtle us back through time, to days when grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and community-get-togethers involved rituals and recipes. Those Barossa Girls is a project all about those food stories, the heritage recipes that preserve them, the practical food skills to create them, and the everyday opportunities to create new ones.

And if we are talking about seasonal favourites that speak of a time and place, Streusel Kuchen is one of those. A food tradition that was carried to Barossa settlements with its European settlers, the original recipes called for a yeast made from fermented potatoes.  In these days of packaged yeast this recipe is now so much easier to produce, and is a hotly contested category every year at our local Tanunda show.  You will find commercial versions of this cake available at almost every bakery across our region, rather delicious with its fruity layer between the cake and streusel.  Traditionally it was made without the fruit layer, and was baked in large slabs for family gatherings, parties, weddings, or even just normal morning tea, and its shape was much more free form being baked on a standard flat tray.  During the anti-german sentiment of the first and second world wars the recipe was changed to a much safer nomenclature of ‘Yeast cake’, and in more recent years is now known as German Yeast Cake, but we love its original name with all its vowels and European inflections.  You will find some fabulous recipe versions for this cake in the Barossa Cookery Book, pages 100, 101 and 112.

A buttery and light base, lightly spiced with just a hint of sweetness, dotted with sultanas, topped with optional jam and a rich buttery streusel.  Allowed to prove in the warmth of a Barossa kitchen, with the kettle whispering quietly on the wood stove alongside, we think you will enjoy this traditional recipe as much as our Barossa grandparents did.   Our recipe was provided by our local baking legend Mrs Valmai Auricht, undisputed Barossa Queen of all things show baking.  Weve included her recipe below so you can start a German Yeast cake story of your own, and we hope you love it as much as we do.




Make a sponge with:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Mix together in a bowl and set to one side.  Allow it to become frothy and aerated.


  • 55o grams plain flour
  • 1 tea spoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon mace (or nutmeg)
  • 60 gm butter (melted)
  • 80gm sugar
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 60gm sultanas
  • Extra milk to make a dough (approx 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons fruit jam of your choice

Streusel Topping:

  • 150gm butter
  • 15gm sugar
  • 250gm plain flour
  • 1/2 tspn cinnamon
  • 1/s tspn nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Making the cake

1. Mix the sponge ingredients in a bowl and set aside in a warm spot to rise for approx 20 minutes, or until frothy and aerated

2. Using a stand mixer with a dough attachment, mix the cake flour, salt, spices and sugar until combined.  Add the egg, melted butter and sponge and mix together to form a soft dough.  Depending on your flour you may need as much as 1 cup of milk to achieve this.  Knead using the machine for 3 minutes,or until the dough is smooth, stretchy and a little sticky.  Add the sultanas and knead again briefly.

3. Turn the cake mixture out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a further three minutes.  Your dough should be fine and smooth, and ideally still a little sticky (use heavily floured hands while working).

4. Place the cake dough into a bowl and cover with a tea towel.  Set aside in a warm spot to prove (approx 1/2 hour, or until double in size)

5. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, combine the streusel topping ingredients.  Mix until they have the consistency of rough breadcrumbs.

5. Turn the cake dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly again for 1 minute.  Using a rolling pin roll the dough into a flat square-ish shape, to fit your baking tray.  Line a baking tray with baking paper, or grease well with butter.  Place the cake dough onto the tray.  Spread with fruit jam of your choice.  Sprinkle with generous layer of streusel topping.

6.  Place the baking tray into a cold oven and bring the temperature up to 180 degrees.  Once at temperature bake for approx 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

7.  Allow to cool fully before dusting with icing sugar (Optional) and slicing.

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