Zuger Kirschtorte is a layer cake from Switzerland that consists of layers of nut-meringue, sponge cake and butter cream, and is flavoured with kirschwasser (cherry brandy).
Pastry chef Heinrich Höhn invented the cake 1921 in the city Zug. It won gold medals in pastry exhibitions in Lucerne in 1923 and 1928 and in London in 1930. In peak times Heinrich Höhn and his successor Jacques Treichler manufactured up to 100,000 of these cakes per year. The Conditorei Treichler has continued manufacturing and shipping the cakes up to the present day. The name is, however, not protected, so variations of the cake are also manufactured by other pastry shops in the region.
Firstly the chef creates two thin rounds of Japanese meringue containing ground almonds and hazelnuts, baked to a light brown colour, and one layer of sponge-cake. For the filling butter cream is prepared, flavoured with kirschwasser and sometimes tinted pink with food colouring (originally beetroot juice). To build the layer cake the buttercream is spread on one round of meringue, which is then covered with the sponge-cake. The sponge is then soaked with a mixture of sugar syrup and kirschwasser. Then follows another layer of butter cream topped with the other meringue layer, and finally the whole cake is covered with butter cream, the sides decorated with roasted sliced almonds, and the top given a light dusting of icing sugar.
- 4 egg whites
- 120g icing sugar
- 20g cornflour
- 100g almond meal/ground almonds
- 3 eggs, egg whites and yolks separated
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 80g icing sugar, sifted
- 10g icing sugar
- 50g all purpose flour
- 50g cornflour
- pinch of baking powder
- 150g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 150g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 egg yolk
- 50g redcurrant jam (or blackberry jam)
- 4 tablespoons water
- 20g icing sugar
- 120ml kirsch
- 100g almonds, toasted and chopped (you can keep the skin on to add some colour to the cake)
- 70g icing sugar
- Start by making the meringue discs: preheat the oven to 160ºC. Draw two 25cm circles in a large piece of parchment/baking paper, on a baking sheet. Generously butter the insides of each circle.
- Sift the icing sugar in a small bowl, add the cornflour and almond meal; set aside.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff; remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, delicately fold the reserved ingredients into the egg whites. Spread the mixture inside the circles, leaving 0.5cm of the edges free of meringue – it will spread. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the meringue is golden. Turn off the oven and allow meringue to cool inside, for at least 4 hours (can be made overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC; butter a 25cm springform round cake pan, line the bottom with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
- Using a mixer, beat the egg yolks with the water until thick and light. Add the icing sugar gradually and beat well. Set aside.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff; add the icing sugar and beat well. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the yolk cream to the egg whites. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder over the mixture and fold in carefully with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through – the cake will pull apart from the sides of the pan when baked.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Using a mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the icing sugar gradually, beating well. Add the egg yolk and jam, beat well until smooth.
- In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium-high heat until it starts boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Add the kirsch and mix well. Set aside.
- Very carefully, peel the meringue discs off the baking paper and place one of them on a serving plate. Spread ⅓ of the buttercream over the meringue. Place the biscuit cake on top of it and brush it generously with the syrup. Carefully spread ⅓ of the buttercream over the biscuit cake. Cover with the other meringue disc.
- Spread the remaining buttercream on the sides of the cake and “stick” the chopped almonds on the cream. Using a sieve, sprinkle the top of the cake with the icing sugar. Draw a criss-cross pattern on the sugar using the back of a knife.
- Keep it refrigerated, but serve it at room temperature – the cake gets hard in the fridge.