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This German Sour Cherry Cake with Streusel (called Fireman Cake “Feuerwehrkuchen” ) consists of a buttery shortcrust pastry, a luscious sour cherry filling, and a nutty hazelnut crumble, all topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream. A traditional German cherry cake for any occasion. Jump to Recipe
This German Sour Cherry Cake with Streusel topping and whipped cream is a total favorite in the Bavarian village I grew up in. It is called Fireman Cake “Feuerwehrkuchen”.
This is the perfect easy German cake recipe to celebrate a birthday and to share with friends and it has become a favorite, oft-requested cake that I love to make because it’s really simple.
Feuerwehrkuchen means Fireman Cake or ‘Fire Brigade Cake’, and nobody seems to really know why it is called that name.
There is the theory out there that it was first baked by a fireman’s wife and brought to the fire station for a party. Another theory says it is because of the red, flame-colored cherries hidden under mounds of whipped cream which symbolizes the fire extinguishing foam.
I was given the sour cherry cake recipe by my granny, creator of many great German cakes like this German Peach Cake and this German Marble Cake. She was a cake-baker extraordinaire and my blog is full of her tried-and-true recipes. Check them out.
What makes this German Sour Cherry Cake special:
The base is a firm but tender, buttery shortcrust pastry holding up a filling of sweet-tart sour cherries. The sour cherry filling is topped with a nutty, crunchy cinnamon-spiced hazelnut streusel topping.
After baking and cooling, the whole top of the cake is slathered with lightly sweetened whipped cream. If you feel naughty, you can add some kirsch to the cream. Finally, the cake is decorated with grated dark chocolate.
Such a delicious explosion of contrasting tastes and textures going on in this traditional German Cake. I love that it is not too sweet, but rich and tangy and perfect served with a cup of coffee.
Notes about ingredients:
I’ve adapted the sour cherry cake recipe for ingredients you can easily find in the US and in Canada.
Frozen vs Canned Cherries
Feuerwehrkuchen is traditionally made with canned sour cherries, but frozen sweet cherries combined with tart cherry juice make a very delicious substitute.
In Germany, I would use canned sour cherries. They come canned in their own juice which I use for the filling. The juice from canned cherries in the US and Canada is a bit too sweet so if you use canned cherries, make the filling with tart cherry juice for that authentic flavor.
If you have some frozen sour cherries, use those. If not, use frozen sweet cherries and tart cherry juice.
vanilla pudding powder
If you can find Dr Oetker Vanilla Pudding powder, you can use it, otherwise just use cornstarch. It will also work.
How to make German Sour Cherry Cake with Streusel
Make the base layer: The secret for a successful German Mürbeteig is to use cold ingredients and cool hands. Don’t knead the dough too long, it might get crumbly.
Start by sifting the flour into a bowl and mix with baking powder, make a hollow like in the pictures below.
Add the sugar and the egg into the hollow. Cut the cold butter into pieces and put it on the rim.
Mix the egg and sugar with your fingertips, then quickly rub the butter into the flour and blend all ingredients together. Don’t knead too long.
Form a ball with the dough, wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour or for hours.
Grease a 9-inch (24cm) springform pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Grease the paper, too. (I like to use a cooking oil spray.)
Quickly knead the dough again, roll it out on a floured table and line the springfrom pan with it.
Make the cherry filling
If using canned sour cherries or cherries from a jar: Drain the cherries, reserving the juice. Measure the juice and use 1 cup + 2 tbsp. If there’s less than 1 cup, add some water or kirsch to make 1 cup and place the juice in a saucepan.
If using frozen sour cherries or sweet cherries: Defrost, reserving their juice. Strain the defrosted cherries and measure the juice. Add enough water or kirsch to make 1 cup. Pour the juice into a saucepan and add the sugar.
Whisk the cornstarch into the cherry juice until no lumps remain. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the juice thickens and comes to a boil (see picture below) Remove from heat and stir in the cherries and the Kirsch. Set aside to cool.
Make the hazelnut streusel topping
In a small bowl combine all the streusel ingredients. Rub with your fingers until the butter is well-incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Assemble the cake:
Scrape the base layer dough into the pan. Use your fingers to press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan and about ⅔ of the way up the sides of the pan.
Pour the partially cooled cherry filling over the base. Sprinkle the streusel crumbs evenly over the cherry filling.
Bake it: Bake the Feuerwehrkuchen for 45 to 50 minutes, until the streusel is golden brown on top.
Let the cake cool in the pan until completely cold. You can even make the cake up until this point the day ahead, and let it sit on the counter, uncovered and in the pan, until serving it the next day.
Top it: Whip the cream with the cornstarch and sugar until of spreading consistency. Add the vanilla and Kirsch and whip for a few seconds more to incorporate.
Remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake onto a cake platter. Spread whipped cream over the top of the streusel layer and sprinkle with shaved dark chocolate.
More German cake recipes:
★ Did you make and love this German Sour Cherry Cake recipe? Give it your review below! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram!
German Sour Cherry Cake with Streusel (called Fireman Cake "Feuerwehrkuchen" )
- 200 grams of all purpose flour - 1 1/4 cups
- 100 grams of cold butter - 1/2 cup
- 75 grams of sugar - 1/3 cups
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 1 big pinch baking powder
sour cherry filling
- 1 pound frozen cherries sour cherries or sweet cherries
- 250 ml tart cherry juice - 1 cup + 2 tbsp
- 45 g custard powder or cornstarch - 1/3 cup
- 3 tablespoon of sugar
- optional: a few drops of almond essence or 1 tbsp kirsch
hazelnut crumble topping
- 110 grams of flour- 1 scarce cup
- 100 grams of sugar - 1/2 cup
- 90 grams of butter - 1/2 cup
- 100 g slivered almonds or ground hazelnuts
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup - 1 1/2 cup heavy cream depending on how much cream you want
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- vanilla extract
- 1 tsp whip it
- 1 tsp kirsch optional
- Cocoa powder or dark shaved chocolate
PREHEAT THE OVEN
Preheat the oven to 180°C - 356 F. Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan (24 cm) with baking spray.
Make the pastry
The secret for a successful German Mürbeteig is to use cold ingredients and cool hands. Don't knead the dough too long, it might get crumbly. Sift the flour into a bowl and mix with baking powder, make a hollow like in the picture above.
Add the sugar and the egg into the hollow. Cut the cold butter into pieces and put it on the rim.
Mix the egg and sugar with your fingertips, then quickly rub butter into the flour and blend all ingredients together. Don't knead too long.
Form a ball with the dough, wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Quickly knead the dough again, roll it out on a floured table.
If using frozen cherries, defrost the cherries, reserving their juice. Strain the defrosted cherries and measure the juice. Add enough tart cherry juice to make one generous cup
If using canned, strain the cherries. Measure out 250-280ml of tart cherry juice - so about one whole cup plus 2 tablespoons and mix the juice with the cornstarch, sugar and, if using, bitter almond extract in a large saucepan with a whisk. Bring the mixture to a boil and add in the cherries. If using kirsch, add it at this point. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon and set the sour cherry filling aside to cool.
In a small bowl combine all the streusel ingredients. Rub with your fingers until the butter is well-incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Set aside in the fridge to cool.
Transfer the shortcrust dough into the pan. You can roll it out and transfer it, then or use your fingers to press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan and about ⅔ of the way up the sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a small measuring cup or glass to push into the dough against the sides all the way around to ensure your side-crust and corner aren't too thick. Push down against the top of the side-crust of dough with your fingertips to make it even all the way around. Prick with a fork.
Pour the partially cooled sour cherry filling over the base. Sprinkle the streusel crumbs evenly over the cherry filling.
Bake it: Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown on top.
Let the cake cool in the pan until completely cold. You can even make the cake ahead of time up until this point and let it sit on the counter, uncovered and in the pan, until serving it the next day.
Top it: Before serving, whip the cream with the vanilla, whip it and sugar until of spreading consistency. Add the vanilla and, if you want, some Kirsch and whip for a few seconds more to incorporate.
Remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake onto a cake platter (you can leave the base layer underneath if you wish, or carefully use two spatulas to transfer the cake off the pan base and onto a plate).
Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the top of the streusel layer, bringing it as close to the edges as possible. Use a fine-meshed sieve to sprinkle a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder over the top of the whipped cream