German Food Guide
German Food Guide
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German Pastries (Gebäck or Kleingebäck)

Pastries are small, individual sized baked goods. They are suitable for many occasions, especially when a whole cake is too much or when a variety of baked goods is prefered to give guests a choice. Pastries are a major part of German baking. German bakeries, including those here in the U.S., offer a large number of delicious pastries to choose from.

Common Toppings & Fillings

Common fillings used in making German pastries include nuts, fruits, Quark, poppy seeds, chocolate, whipped cream, and other creams. Common toppings include crumbs, fruits, nuts, sugar, chocolate, marzipan, whipped cream, and other creams. Fruit toppings are most commonly apples, Zwetschgen, strawberries, red currants, berries, cherries, or rhubarb.

Common Dough Types

The following types of dough are often used when making pastries.

Yeast Dough (Hefeteig)
A yeast dough is a dough in which yeast has been added as a leavening agent. Yeast feeds on the sugars in the dough (added sugar and the sugar produced from the wheat starch in the flour). The yeast converts the sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol. As the dough bakes, the carbon dioxide is trapped within the dough, causing the dough to rise.

Short Dough (Mürbeteig)
The "short" in short dough refers to its crumbly quality produced by shortening (butter or margarine). This dough has a high content of shortening. The dough is firm and can be easily rolled out.

Batter (Rührteig)
A batter is made mainly from shortening, sugar, eggs, flour, and sometimes milk. Mixing (Rühren) is important to this type of cake because it incorporates air into the cake and makes it lighter. Mixing the eggs and sugar first, then adding the shortening, results in a cake that is light and rises high. Mixing the butter and sugar first, then add the eggs, results in a cake that is airy and soft. The flour is then added at the end of mixing and mixing should only continue until the flour has been incorporated into the batter.

Puff Pastry (Blätterteig)
Puff pastry is made from hundreds of layers of butter and dough. This creates a very flakey product.


In German bakeries, you will often see rectangular pastries for sale. These are actually large sheet cakes (Blechkuchen) cut into individual sized servings. The variety of these types of pastries is limitless 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. For more information on this type of cake, please visit our Blechkuchen page.

German Pastries

There are hundreds of German pastries. We list several of the most well-known ones here. Select a pastry below to get detailed information and recipes.

Zwetschgenkuchen / Plum Topped Cake
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