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Kirschkuchen is a type of German cherry cake that is made from simple ingredients, including pitted cherries, and sometimes flavored with kirsch or rum. The resulting cake can be very thin and tart-like or taller and more substantial, depending on the exact ingredients and the proportions that are used. A few recipes substitute premade cherry pie filling for fresh cherries or use a mixture of various berries along with the cherries for a different flavor. The finished kirschkuchen can be served with whipped cream, coated in a fruit glaze or baked with a sweet strudel topping.
The most basic ingredients in kirschkuchen are eggs, flour, sugar and butter. The proportions used are different, depending on the recipe, ranging from equal amounts of each ingredient by weight to cakes that have very little sugar added and rely more on the cherries for sweetness. Baking soda sometimes is used, as are ingredients such as sour cream, cream cheese or yogurt to keep the cake moist while it is baking.
Cherries are the main flavoring in kirschkuchen. Most traditional recipes call for ripe cherries that have been pitted but not necessarily chopped into smaller pieces, leaving them fairly whole in the cake. Sour cherries also can be used, as can cherries mixed with berries such as raspberries or blueberries, although cherries usually remain the dominant flavor. Some versions of the recipe are designed for convenience and call for the addition of premade or canned cherry pie filling, although this tends to make the cherry cake much sweeter and heavier than fresh cherries would.
Assembling the ingredients for kirschkuchen is fairly simple. The butter and sugar are whipped together until they are smooth and creamed. The eggs are separated into yolks and whites, and the yolks are incorporated into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. The whites of the eggs are whipped until they are stiff, with part of the whites then being folded into the butter mixture to add some volume to the cake. The flour and the remaining egg whites are then carefully folded into the mixture until the batter comes together.
The batter is poured into a greased baking pan and the cherries are arranged on top of the cake, where they will slowly sink into the cake as it bakes. The cake is then baked until it is done. The finished kirschkuchen can be served like any sweet cake or it can be accompanied by fresh fruits, topped with fruit preserves or dusted with confectioner’s sugar.