The German Frankfurter kranz has nothing to do with sausages. It is a cake developed by an unknown master baker in 1735. It symbolizes a crown with the golden croquant (see All About Croquant after the directions below) around the outside and the jewel-like cherries as decoration.
Frankfurt was seen as the crown city of the German Empire for many years, hence the name of this dessert.
Frankfurter Kranz takes a little time to make, but it's one of the easiest German cakes for a beginner.
- For the Sponge Cake
- 2 large eggs (separated)
- 1 tablespoon water (cold)
- 1/2 cup/100 g sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or a few drops of rum or butter flavoring)
- 1/2 cup/60 g flour (all-purpose)
- 1//3 cup/40 g cornstarch (or potato starch)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- For the Croquant
- 3/4 cup nuts (chopped hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, or other nuts)
- 2 tablespoons/30 g butter
- 2/3 cup/120 g sugar
- For the Frosting
- 1 (3-ounce) package vanilla pudding (prepared with 1 1/2 cups milk only and cooled)
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 10 tablespoons/140 g butter (room-temperature)
- 2 tablespoons/30 g sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla (or rum extract)
- Garnish: 1/2 cup tart red jelly
- Optional: 3 to 4 cherries (candied)
Make the Sponge Cake
In a large bowl, beat egg whites with water on medium speed until foamy. Increase to high speed and beat while adding the sugar a little at a time until the meringue is stiff and white, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
Remove the meringue to another bowl and add egg yolks to the mixing bowl. Beat on high until light yellow and fluffy. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes.
Pour the egg yolks over the egg white meringue, add the vanilla and fold carefully a few times.
Sift the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder over the egg mixture and continue to fold until all the flour is incorporated. Do not over mix.
Butter the bottom, but not the sides of a 3-cup pan. The most traditional form has a hole in the middle (an angel food cake pan or a springform pan with a special insert, but some people choose to bake this in a small loaf pan). Spoon the batter evenly into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until set. Cool completely.
Make the Croquant
Chop the nuts fine. Toast them in a 350 F oven for about 5 minutes. Or skip the toasting step and use them raw.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan and add the 2/3 cup sugar. Stir and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar begins to melt.
Keep stirring until the sugar is melted completely and the sugar turns light brown.
Add the nuts, stir, and remove from heat.
Spread the candy on an oiled cookie sheet. Use only a spoon, not your hands, as the candy is very hot.
Cool the candy, then chop into small pieces on a cutting board and store in an airtight container.
Make the Frosting
Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, if possible, beat the 10 tablespoons softened butter, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the pudding, a spoonful at a time, stirring at medium speed after each addition until it is fully incorporated. Keep stirring for 5 to 10 minutes total, until the buttercream is completely smooth.
It can be used immediately or refrigerated until use, although it might have to stand at room temperature again to be spreadable. See the section below on Buttercream Tips.
Frost and Decorate the Frankfurter Kranz
Cut the cake horizontally into three pieces. Place the bottom layer on a cake rack over a cookie sheet.
Spoon some tart, red jelly over the bottom layer, then some buttercream frosting about 1/4- inch thick.
Place the middle layer on top of that and add another, thick layer of buttercream.
Place the top layer on that and frost the sides and top of the cake thinly with the buttercream. Leave at least 1/2 cup of buttercream for the decorator bag.
Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the croquant. Sometimes you can angle the cake up and press some of the candy onto the sides. Press in lightly to stick.
Using a decorator bag and a star tip, pipe 10, small rosettes on top of the cake.
Quarter the candied or maraschino cherries and place one piece on top of each rosette. Press lightly to stick.
Transfer the cake to a cake stand.
Serve the cake or chill until serving time.
Note: The longer the cake sits, the more it will soak up the cream and jelly and the moister it will be. Some people let it sit overnight before serving.
All About Croquant
Croquant, or krokant in German, is a nut brittle made with chopped hazelnuts or almonds. It also can be made with any nuts you have on hand that you like including peanuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, or walnuts. The nuts can be raw or roasted. Usually, they are blanched and the skins removed.
- Butter and pudding must have the exact same temperature to start with or the butter will congeal in the pudding forming hard, little lumps and look grainy.
- If this happens, you can heat the frosting gently over a hot water bath, stirring constantly with a whisk. This sometimes helps the butter melt into the pudding.
- If you heat the ingredients too much, the butter could melt completely, making fatty puddles in the pudding. You will need to start over if this happens.
- You can try a different buttercream frosting. This recipe describes a typical German buttercream. Italian buttercream does not need the ingredients to be room temperature and can be finished in about an hour, or French buttercream is another option.