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Make a Frankfurter Kranz from Scratch
"The Frankfurter Kranz is a typical bakery specialty of Frankfurt. An unknown master pastry chef created this tasty round in 1735. Its form demonstrates that the metropolis on the Main was the crown city of the German Empire for hundreds of years. The ring of cake with a golden hull of crocant (chopped hazelnut brittle) and its decoration of candied cherries symbolizes a golden crown bedecked with jewels. It has long been a standard of festive afternoon family... gatherings ("Kaffeetafel," or coffee buffet) in Frankfurt on Main."
The Frankfurter Kranz is a Buttercream Torte or cake which many people like to make, regardless of whether they are great bakers or have high aspirations. My husband's sister even picked out this cake to bake for the family while growing up in Boulder, Colorado back in the 1970s. This is a well-known and fun cake to make, even though there are many steps involved.
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Layers in a Frankfurter Kranz
As you can see, a Frankfurter Kranz traditionally has three layers of sponge cake, filled with buttercream frosting. The bottom layer has some red jelly spread on it (usually red currant jelly, but can be raspberry or strawberry, too) underneath the buttercream.
Then the cake is spread with the remaining buttercream and sprinkled with crocant, which is essentially hazelnut brittle chopped very fine. In Germany, you can buy this pre-made in little boxes. Otherwise, you have to make it yourself.
Last...ly, the individual pieces are decorated with a bit of buttercream and some maraschino cherries, making this cake a festive centerpiece to any Kaffeekranz or tea party.
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03 of 11
Making German Buttercream Frosting
Some people do not like to make homemade buttercream frosting. No worries. Buy a couple of containers of pre-made buttercream frosting at the store (vanilla or butter flavor).
German buttercream frosting is very rich but not as sweet. It consists of vanilla pudding carefully stirred together with equal amounts of butter until fluffy. The butter and the pudding must have the same temperature to meld together or it will not work. Here, the butter is beaten first, then the pudding is added a... spoonful at a time until well blended.
You may also want to use a Swiss- or Italian Buttercream recipe (video). They are made with a cooked meringue mixed with butter or shortening.
The recipe here for Frankfurter Kranz uses one small packet of pudding and one stick of butter. You will need to double that amount, at least, for a regular-sized cake.
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04 of 11
The Krokant - Crocant
A favorite for decorating German cakes or cookies. You can make a supply of "Krokant" and store it, or make it just for this recipe. This picture is showing you how to chop the brittle. You could use store-bought peanut brittle, too.
Crocant is a nut brittle, chopped fine. The recipe used here is:
- 2 tbsp. butter (30 g.)
- 2/3 c. sugar (120 g.)
- 3/4 c. nuts, chopped (hazelnut, almond, peanut, or other)
And makes about 1 1/2 cups of crocant. See this recipe for full directions.
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05 of 11
Split the Sponge Cake into Three Layers
Start by splitting the cooled cake. This is traditionally a sponge cake or "Rührteig," where the eggs are separated and the stiffly beaten egg whites are folded into the beaten egg yolk and sugar mixture. Then the flour is folded in on top. You can also use a pound cake recipe, which is a modified sponge cake with fat, or any chiffon cake recipe.
- Golden Sponge Cake
- Lemon Chiffon Cake
You can split a cake into layers by using kitchen thread, dental floss, or a long knife as shown here.
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06 of 11
Setting the Stage for Decorating a Frankfurter Kranz
Place the layers on a clean surface or waxed paper. The picture here is from a small sponge cake made in a 7-inch (18 cm) springform with tube insert (recipe here).
My springform came from Kaiser GmbH in Germany, but I found a 7 1/2-inch tube pan here. Use a full-sized recipe with a 9 to 10-inch tube pan.
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07 of 11
Assembling the Cake
Place the bottom layer on a very flat plate or serving platter and set strips of wax paper underneath the edges. Here, a large plate is inverted, to make it easier to move the finished cake to a fancy serving plate.
Spread the jelly on the bottom layer. The jelly layer is optional. Some store-bought cakes do not have jelly.
Spread a thin layer of buttercream frosting over the jelly and smooth. You will want about 1/4 inch height (5 mm) or more of frosting. Use your frosting wisely so you do not... run out before the end of the project.
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Place the middle layer carefully on top and spread it with buttercream frosting.
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09 of 11
Assembling the Cake - Second Step
Place the third layer on top. Square the sides of the cake and spread a thin layer of buttercream frosting over the cake, including the sides, top and the inside.
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The Messy Part
Here comes the messy part. Place the cake plate (with cake) on a cookie sheet. Using handfuls of crocant, sprinkle the candy on top and press it into the sides of the frosted cake. You may have to tip the cookie sheet to reach all areas. You will also need to gather up the leftovers and use them again to cover the whole cake.
If you are worried about hygiene, use disposable plastic gloves. Your local drugstore may have boxes, or you can look online.
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11 of 11
Finishing the Job
Placing the final decorations:
Place about 1 cup of frosting in a decorating bag with the star tip. Pipe 10 to 12 evenly spaced spirals (about 1 3/4 circumferences) on top of the cake and place 1/2 or 1/4 of a candied or maraschino cherry on each spiral. See "How To Use a Pastry Bag" here.
Carefully remove the wax paper and transfer the cake (if necessary) to a cake plate. I use two, large spatulas for this. You may also want to enlist a helper with a third spatula, for safety.
Chill the... cake if you are not serving it immediately. You can cover the cake with a purchased cake cover although sometimes, an overturned plastic mixing bowl can be just the right size, too.
The cake absorbs some of the liquids from the frosting and jam, so letting it sit overnight is a good idea, but you can serve it right away.
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