The Dresden Eierschecke – a cake travelogue

There are places where cake is omnipresent and inescapable, places that are defined by their resident cake. Dresden is one such place and the Dresdner Eierschecke (Dresden egg custard cake) is one such cake. You won’t find a café, restaurant or supermarket in Dresden that doesn’t offer its own variety of the Eierschecke.

PART 1 – The quest for the best Eierschecke in Dresden

Frauenkirche

Frauenkirche

I discovered the charms of the Eierschecke during my two-week stay in Dresden in June 2012 (ostensibly to do a German course, but it didn’t take long for my stay to turn into a cake-and-sightseeing extravaganza). Upon learning about the Eierschecke and its significance, I made it my mission to try a slice in each café/bakery that I came across in order to determine where exactly in Dresden one can have the best instance of this cake. Needless to say, my research was conducted within certain boundaries, reasonable ones – i.e. I was not willing to compromise my waistline too much, not even as a service to science (one has to draw a line somewhere). Therefore my sample is somewhat limited – I didn’t manage to try the cake in each and every cafe in town, but I at least tried to do as many central ones (around the Frauenkirche) as I could manage. Fortunately, the research itself wasn’t a problem since pretty much every café in town had an “Eierschecke and cup of coffee for 3.60€” offer.

The Eierschecke, loosely translated as “egg custard cake”, consists of three layers – the base, which can be made of yeast dough, sponge cake or pie crust, a white curd-cheese-based layer in the middle and a yellow egg-based top layer. I thought that the use of the curd cheese (called “Quark” in German) was quite ingenious. This cheese is so neutral that it hardly tastes like cheese at all. Therefore it gives form and substance to the cake without turning it into a cheese cake. The overall effect is that the Eierschecke is light and fluffy and goes really well with coffee or tea.

I was surprised to see that the Eierschecke varied considerably in shape, size, quality, consistency and even in flavour from café to café. However, after many days of long and arduous research, I eventually managed to identify the top three. Below are the (strictly scientific) results:

3rd place – Wiener Feinbäckerei, Schloβstraβe

Eierschecke

2nd place – Emil Reimann

Eierschecke

1st place – Café An der Frauenkirche

Eierschecke

As for the winning entry, I had a bit of a hard time trying to decide between the Emil Reimann cake and the one from Café An der Frauenkirche. The former was in fact the better cake and had the perfect consistency – not too fluffy, but not too gummy either. However, it was laced with an obviously artificial lemony flavouring, and such hacks are frowned upon in the Concerning Cakes universe. What this meant in practical terms was that I made the An der Frauenkirche cake the winner of this contest. And what a good cake it was – the flavour was uncomplicated and natural and as an extra bonus, Café An der Frauenkirche has arguably the best location in town, at least if the proximity to the Frauenkirche is any indication.

PART 2 – Making the Dresdner Eierschecke

Naturally, one of the first things I did when I got back home was to try to make my own version of the perfect Dresdner Eierschecke. I thought this would be a rather straightforward task, but it turned out that all the recipes I could find contained an ingredient that is absolutely unobtainable in the UK – vanilla pudding. Pudding does not exist in the UK in the continental sense of the word. Instead, “pudding” can mean pretty much any kind of dessert except the one that I was after – namely, a small bag filled with a vanilla-flavoured starchy substance that, when mixed with heated milk, results in a smooth creamy substance very useful for making cakes. A possible alternative was custard, but I didn’t even want to consider this because it’s not the same thing. Therefore I had to improvise, so I mixed a bit of flour with milk, simmered the mixture and finally added some white chocolate. The result was exactly like vanilla pudding.

After overcoming the initial pudding-related difficulties, making the Eierschecke was pretty easy. There was one worrying moment when I thought that the yellow mixture was too runny and that the cake would be ruined, but it became solid after about an hour in the oven. It did get alarmingly inflated though, which made the cake look like a large muffin, but it deflated back to its normal level a few minutes after I’d taken the cake out of the oven. This has made the top of the cake look wrinkly, but I think that’s fine because the cakes I saw in Dresden were also rather wrinkly.

As for the overall impressions, I was happy with my Dresdner Eierschecke, although I’m not sure if it’s better than the above three examples. The consistency of the cakes I tried in Dresden was more firm and the yellow top layer was more yellow – I wonder if this is because I didn’t use real vanilla pudding (which tends to be quite yellow).

PART 3 – The recipe

For the crust:
200g flour
100g butter
60g sugar
1 egg
A bit of baking powder
For the “pudding”:
0.5l milk
3tbsp flour
80g white chocolate
For the white filling:
500g curd cheese
50g sugar
For the yellow filling:
5 eggs
50g sugar

  1. To make the crust, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Continue mixing with your hands until you’ve got a nice ball of dough. Then place the dough into a greased 22cm or 26cm cake tin and spread it into a pie crust shape with your hands (making sure there is at least 3cm of dough around the sides). Bake for about 10min in a pre-heated oven (160C).
  2. Then make the “vanilla pudding” – pour 0.5l milk into a saucepan, add 3tbsp flour and simmer over a low heat while stirring continuously with a whisk. Once the mixture starts bubbling and thickens, add 80g white chocolate and keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Then take the saucepan off the hob and cover it with kitchen foil or with a lid.
  3. To make the white filling, mix half of the pudding with the 500g curd cheese and sugar.
  4. To make the yellow filling, separate 5 eggs. Mix the 5 egg yolks with sugar and the remaining half of the pudding. In a separate bowl, beat the 5 egg whites until they are stiff and fluffy. Add this to the egg yolk mixture and stir carefully.
  5. Spread the white filling over the crust and then pour in the yellow mixture. Bake for about 60min in a pre-heated oven (160C), but make sure you cover the cake with aluminium foil after it’s been in the oven for 10min.

The cake can be served as soon as it’s cooled down, but it’s best after it’s been in the fridge overnight.

The Dresden egg custard cake

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About Sonja Kudei

Sonja Kudei is a writer and web developer based in London.

4 Responses to “The Dresden Eierschecke – a cake travelogue”

  1. Thank you for this!! I had no idea this was a Dresden specialty, and we’ve loved the one cake we’ve tried. Now to bake this back home in Australia!

  2. Hi, Vanillepudding is just corn starch with vanilla flavoring and food colorant. 40g of corn starch with a pinch of vanilla powder would be the perfect substitute for the bag variety.