The word Blech means "sheet" so a Blechkuchen is a cake that is baked in a large baking sheet, like a sheet cake. These cakes are usually rectangular in form and they are cut into squares for serving. There is no one "typical" Blechkuchen because it is how the cake is baked (in a large baking sheet) that makes it a Blechkuchen, not its ingredients. In fact, there are so many different varieties of Blechkuchen because many kinds of doughs and toppings can be used.
Tradionally, Blechkuchen are made with a yeast dough or a dough that can be easily rolled out. Cake batters, which are thinner in consistency, can be used too for quickness and simplicity. However, cake batters turn out much softer and can become too moist (soggy) from fruit toppings, so toppings that contain less moisture work best.
There are an unlimited number of Blechkuchen varieties. We list some of the most well-known Blechkuchen below.
The Butterkuchen (Zuckerkuchen) is a butter cake, the most basic Blechkuchen. It is made from a yeast dough, which is baked with a topping of butter pieces and sugar. Some regions also add almond slices as a topping.
The butter cake is a favorite of Bremen and Westphalia (Westfalen). It is often served at weddings and funerals. Because of this, it is often called "Freude- und Leidskuchen" (Happiness and Sorrow cake).
The Streuselkuchen is a crumb cake made from a sweet yeast dough, topped with crumbs. The crumbs are typically made with flour, white granulated sugar (unlike the American version which uses brown sugar), and butter.
There are several varieties of crumb cakes. For example, some are filled with a vanilla cream; some include fruit; some are made with baking powder (instead of yeast) as the main leavener.
The Käsekuchen is a cheese cake, but instead of using cream cheese, German cheese cakes typically are made with quark. They are also often topped with fruit, nuts, or crumbs before baking. Cheese cakes can also be round in shape, but you will also often see them baked as Blechkuchen then cut into squares for serving or for sale.
The Bienenstich is a traditional Blechkuchen made from a yeast dough and topped with a butter-sugar-almond mixture. During baking, this topping caramelizes, giving the cake a shiny appearance. After baking, the cake is often also filled with a vanilla cream.
The Eierschecke is a 3-layer cake. The top layer is made from whipped eggs, butter, and sugar. The middle layer is a Vanilla-Quark filling. The bottom layer is sweet yeast dough (in some regions a cake batter with baking powder is used instead).
The Eierschecke is a specialty of Saxony (Sachsen) and Thuringia (Thüringen).
The Zwiebelkuchen is a savory Blechkuchen topped with onions, cream or sour cream, eggs, and bacon. It is very popular in Autumn in Germany's wine regions.
The Zwetschgenkuchen is a Blechkuchen made with a yeast dough (or sometimes a dough with baking powder as leavening instead of yeast). The dough is rolled out and placed on a baking sheet, then topped with halved Zwetschgen (Italian Prume Plums). It is usually then topped with crumbs made of white granulated sugar, butter, and flour.
The Zwetschgenkuchen is believed to have been invented in the city of Augsburg. The cake is considered to be the culinary specialty of the city.
The Zwetschgenkuchen is also known as Zwetschendatschi, Quetschekuche, and Pflaumenkuchen.