I just came back from my trip to Germany. It was gray and cold and rained relentlessly for almost two weeks. In other words, typical Hamburger winter weather. Of course, everybody assured me that it had been really nice and warm until just before I arrived.

But I didn’t come for the weather, I wanted to meet with family and friends, trying to see all of them, hear everything that had happened since my last visit, and sharing all my Maine stories about our trials and tribulations with our backyard construction.

Christa in der Kueche
My friend Christa

Going into a bakery in Bremen with my friend Christa, I marveled again at the enormous selection of different breads the offered, even in such a small suburban place. And the meringue studded Kapuzinertorte (Capuchin Torte) we enjoyed, while listening to Sting’s newest CD “If on a Winter’s Night“, was so delicious – it definitely had some liquor in it! – that I had to find the recipe.

Back in Maine, after doing some research, I opted for the Capuchin Torte recipe that most resembled the cake I had in Bremen. The author must have been a pro, he just listed buttercream as ingredient, without further specification. So Karl Neef’s wonderful pastry book “Sonntagskuchen und Festtagstorten” supplied the missing German  buttercream recipe.

As usual, I reduced the amount of sugar, and wondered about the kirsch. Though I do like alcohol in pastry, the recipe amount (300 g) seemed way too much, I really didn’t see how the cake could take it – unless being totally submerged in booze!

Since we had a pavlova the day before, I used what was left for the meringue topping.

We loved the result of my baking experiment. Next time I will double the amount of vanilla buttercream  (my husband’s suggestion – it’s so delicious!).


(12 servings)

5 eggs
200 g/7 oz sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp lemon juice
180 g/6.3 oz all-purpose flour
100 g/3.5 oz cornstarch
8 g/0.3 oz baking powder
200 g/7 oz unsalted butter, melted
100 g/3.5 oz kirsch liqueur (if using kirsch schnapps, add some more sugar)
2 tbsp water
100 g/3.5 oz semisweet chocolate

German Vanilla Buttercream:
125 g/4.4 oz unsalted butter
125 g/4.4 oz vegetable shortening
55 g/2 oz powdered sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

200 g meringues, coarsely chopped
10 g/0.4 oz cocoa powder (or leftover chocolate scrapings from the melting bowl)


Preheat oven to 400ºF200ºC. Line bottom of a springform pan (26 cm/10.2 inch diameter) with parchment paper. Grease sides with butter.

Set a metal bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Add eggs, sugar, salt and lemon juice and, using a handheld mixer, beat . With a hand held mixer beat eggs at high speed until warm (but not boiling!). Remove bowl from heat, and continue beating mixture until lukewarm.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, starch and baking powder. Fold flour into egg mixture, then, slowly, add liquid butter.

Pour capuchin batter into springform pan and bake cake for about 30 minutes. Place cake on a rack and let cool completely.

Melt chocolate over low heat or in the microwave. Remove torte from springform pan, turn it upside down and peel off parchment paper. Brush bottom with chocolate, let dry completely.

Mix kirsch liqueur with water. Cut cake horizontally in halves. Brush top and sides of both halves repeatedly with kirsch. Let sit overnight.

For the buttercream, using a hand held mixer, cream together butter and shortening until foamy. Alternately add powdered sugar and eggs and beat at high speed until foamy. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

With offset- or rubber spatula, spread buttercream over bottom layer of torte, place upper half on top, and frost top and sides.

Sprinkle top and sides of capuchin torte with chopped meringue, using hands to press pieces gently into buttercream. Dust with cocoa and/or sprinkle with leftover chocolate scrapings and serve.

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