Frankfurter Kranz Cake

(Geburtstag Torte or Kranz Torte, Crown Cake)

This large, very rich, almond-flavored cake was made only for very special occasions, when there would be a gathering of the family. Tradition says that these cakes, or variations of them, were made in Germany and the Netherlands on royal birthdays.

Grandma learned this recipe from her older sister, our “Tante Louise.” It has taken considerable time to approximate her recipes and method, in spite of the fact that some of us watched her in the process of making it, and even took notes. She doubled the recipes for cake, filling, and topping. For most families, a single recipe should be sufficient. Grandma Block kept this cake on a table on her cool, screened back porch, but since few of us have a place like that any more, it should probably be kept in your refrigerator to keep the filling fresh.

This sponge cake recipe is from her tattered ”Neighborhood Cook Book”, which was first published in 1912. It is the one she always used, and makes a wonderful cake.

Oven: 325°
7 egg whites
5 egg yolks
1 C. fine granulated sugar
1 C. flour, (sifted before measuring)
Flavoring to taste (vanilla is fine)
Cream of tartar, scant 1/3 tsp.
1.Beat yolks till thick, and set aside. 2. Add a pinch of salt to the whites, and whip to a foam; add the cream of tartar and whip until very stiff, 3. Add sugar and mix well. 4. Add yolks and beat in. 5.Add flavoring. 6.Add the flour last, and fold lightly through. 7. Bake in tube pan or spring-form pan in a moderate oven (325°) from 40 to 60 minutes. Invert to cool. This is important, as if it is cooled right-side up it will “fall.”

Grandma Block used a very large spring-form pan to bake her double-recipe cake in, inverting it to cool after the cake was done. After removing the sides from the pan, she split the cake horizontally into 3 layers, and put them together with very generous amounts of a creamy, almond-flavored filling. The topping was a buttery burnt-sugar glaze with ground almonds.

1 to 1½ C. milk
½ C. sugar
¼ C. flour or 2½ TB cornstarch
3 to 4 well-beaten egg yolks, or 2 eggs + 2 yolks
Flavoring (a few drops of almond, rum, or vanilla extract)
½ lb. butter, room temperature
About 1/2 C. ground almonds

1. Mix sugar, flour or cornstarch, and beaten egg yolks (or eggs + yolks) in the top of a double boiler (over boiling water, not in it; don’t let the water touch the pan you’re going to mix and cook in.)
2. Beat this mixture until light.
3.Add the milk, gradually. (Smaller amount of milk will make a stiffer filling.) Add flavoring. Stir until all is well blended.
4. Cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken.
5. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
6. Beat in the butter, little by little.
7. Add the almonds and mix well.
8.When filling is cool, spread it on the two lower layers; saving the un-spread layer for the top. The filling should be at least ¼ inch thick.
9.Stack the layers, then frost with burnt-sugar-almond glaze.

This makes a custard-like filling. Some cooks prefer a butter-cream filling, flavored with a few drops of almond flavoring or a bit of rum. A recipe for this follows on the next page.

1 C. sugar
6 egg yolks; large
1 C unsalted butter (NOT margarine)
3/4 C. water
A few drops of almond flavoring or 1 TB rum
1.In a small bowl, beat the butter until soft and light, then set aside. 2.Boil sugar and water to 238 degrees F. (soft ball stage). 3. Beat egg yolks until very light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes. 4.While still beating the egg yolks, add the sugar syrup in a thin stream. Beat 5 minutes more, until very thick and doubled in bulk. 5.Slowly beat in the rum or other flavoring. 6. Beat butter into the egg mixture a little at a time. Continue beating until thick. Chill until the mixture can be spread. (If the mixture is too soft, beat in additional butter and chill a little longer. Spread on two of the layers and stack them, with the unspread layer on top. Glaze with the following topping:

(Grandma’s recipe for the topping has been lost, so here is our friend Jane Niggebrugge’s recipe.)

1 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. almond, vanilla, or rum extract (more or less, as desired)
1 cube butter
¾ C. cream
1 ½ C. chopped almonds (Grandma usually used less—about ½ C. Chef Stephen finds that the larger amount is better.)
1. Melt the sugar and butter butter.Don't get this too hot. 2. Mix in cream and butter till melted, add extract and nuts. 3. Beat well until thick enough to spread; if it is too stiff, add a little bit more cream. Glaze the cake. Spread quickly over cake and let it run down on the sides, smoothing quickly with spatula. Place the cake in a cool place to “set” before serving.