Cherry Streusel Cake (Kirschstreuselkuchen)

We’re back to Luisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking with this recipe. She advocates using tinned German sour cherries but not having found those, I opted for fresh cherries cooked with lemon juice, a touch of vinegar, and some spice.

GF crumble topping tends to go all gooey and horrible, but this recipe worked by adding xanthan gum.

Serves: up to 24

For the streusel:

  • 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 100g demerara sugar (or other large-grained sugar)
  • 150g self-raising gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the topping (see Alternate Fruit footnote):

  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp plain vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar as I don’t have plain)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 orange, juice only
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour (or arrowroot powder)
  • 700g fresh cherries (weighed whole), stoned and halved
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (4-5 seconds’ grating of fresh nutmeg)

For the cake batter:

  • 330g gluten-free flour
  • 3 tsp gluten-free baking powder (only required if your GF flour is plain; use 1 tsp for self-raising)
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened; plus additional cold butter to grease tin
  • 175g sugar (white or golden caster)
  • 3 large eggs (62-68g each when weighed in their shells)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons full-fat milk


  • A 9×12″ / 23x30cm standard traybake tin
  • Baking/parchment paper
  • 3 mixing bowls: 1 large, 1 medium, and 1 small; plus another small bowl
  • A chopping board and sharp knife
  • A medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • A manual (eg. balloon) whisk
  • An electric mixer (hand-held, or stand)
  • A spatula
  • A cooling rack

Making the streusel:

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl, and work with your fingers until you have both large and small clumps (pea-sized, and slightly larger). Put in the fridge until ready to bake.

Making the topping:

  1. Put the lemon juice, vinegar, and water in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil.
  2. While that’s heating, whisk the cornflour with the orange juice quite vigourously until it’s thoroughly dissolved.
  3. Whisk in the cornfloured juice; continue to whisk until smooth and back to the boil. Add the cherries and nutmeg, turn the heat down to low, and leave to simmer about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Making the cake batter:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Lightly grease your traybake tin and line with paper, ensuring you leave an overhang on both long sides to act as ‘handles’ later.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder with a fork.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl at medium-high speed until quite fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time with the vanilla extract, beating continuously, until fully combined. Scrape the bowl down often.
  4. Add the dry ingredients some at a time, mixing at medium speed all the while. Add the milk and continue mixing until very smooth (the batter will be somewhat thick).
  5. Scrape the batter into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Pour the cherries with their thickened juice evenly over the batter (or, sprinkle chopped fresh fruit over – see Alternate Fruit footnote).
  6. Remove the streusel bowl from the fridge. Work with your fingers to break up any really big clumps, and sprinkle evenly over the cake.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, turning the tin halfway through for even baking, until the streusel is lightly browned.
  8. Remove the tin from the oven to a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes, then use the paper handles to remove the cake from the tin. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold. (This will keep in the fridge, wrapped in clingfilm, for several days.)

Alternate Fruit
The original recipe says to use sour cherries from a jar or tin (680g), and thicken the jar/tin syrup with cornflour (no water/juice/vinegar required).

I know that in America it’s easy to buy tins of ‘pie filling’, so cherry pie filling would probably work well here. Warm it in a saucepan before spreading on the batter (no cornflour/water/juice/vinegar required).

Luisa suggests using fresh or frozen blueberries, Italian prune plums, or sugared rhubarb as substitutes for sour cherries.


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