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German Torte (with Lemon and Buttermilk)

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This German torte filled with buttermilk lemon mousse is one of the most refreshing, best-tasting cakes you can imagine. No kidding!

Lemon Buttermilk Torte

Amazing lemon buttermilk torte, a typical German torte recipe. You can make it with lemons or limes and you will love it either way.

I think you might have noticed that I love to bake. All kinds of stuff, from bread and muffins to festive cakes or fondant decorated cakes.

I might go so far as to say that I like baking even more than I like eating baked goods, which I do like, don’t get me wrong, but the actual process of baking gives me even more pleasure than eating the results in the end.

And when it comes to eating what I bake, this kind of torte is my favorite. Really fresh tasting and light, with more filling than batter, definitely my kind of cake.

Lemon Buttermilk Torte

What do you need for the buttermilk torte?


  • Preferably unwaxed organic lemons, as you will need some of the zest as well.
  • Make the filling using freshly squeezed lemon juice and not juice from a bottle, it makes a lot of difference.
  • Alternatively use limes instead of lemons, they are incredibly good as well. I really could not decide if I like this German torte more when it contains lemons or limes.
  • If you decide to go for limes, you will need more, as they are smaller.


  • Make sure to use pure buttermilk, not sweetened, and with nothing added. Just the pure stuff.


  • Lots of heavy or double cream for whipping. Again, pure stuff, not sweetened.

Cream stabilizer:

  • Only if available and if you feel that the decorating whipping cream needs it. It helps the cream remain stable and stiffer.
  • We use cream stabilizer almost as a standard in Germany, but I know it’s not a common thing to use around the world. (Amazon affiliate link)
  • The cream stabilizer can be replaced with a mixture of icing sugar and cornstarch in a 1:1 ratio. In this case, you will mix 2 teaspoons icing sugar with 2 teaspoons cornstarch and use exactly as described in the recipe.
german torte with buttermilk lemon filling overhead view

Tips for making German torte

Most important tip!

Use a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients, it ensures the best results in baking.

Working with gelatine:

  • It is not difficult but requires attention.
  • Make sure you read the packet instructions and work accordingly. Generally, they are pretty much the same.
  • Soak the leaves in cold water. Make sure the water is cold and not lukewarm or the gelatine will start to dissolve. Depending on the brand it will take between 7 to 10 minutes
  • Squeeze the leaves gently to remove excess water.
  • Place them in a medium saucepan that is large enough to hold all the filling afterward. You will have to stir part of the filling into the dissolved gelatine and add the whipped cream as well a bit later.
  • Heat the leaves only very gently and shortly, it will take about 20-30 seconds. Stir continuously with a spoon and never let it come to a simmer or boil. If it does, you can discard it and start again.
  • Only add the buttermilk mixture one tablespoon at a time to the gelatine. If you add too much at once, the mixture will clump as the temperature difference between the two is too much. You will have to temper the gelatine slowly with the mixture.
  • After incorporating about half of the mixture, you can start adding bigger dollops of the filling to the gelatine without the risk of ruining it.
  • Place the mixture in the refrigerator until it only begins to set. It should only begin, but not set yet. If it is too set, it will clump when you add the whipped cream.

More tips:

  • The German torte needs to set before serving. Allow at least 6 hours in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. I always make this kind of cake one day in advance.
  • You will need a cake ring (Amazon affiliate link). You can use the ring of the springform instead, but a cake ring is better as it is higher and it can be fitted better around the cake, allowing no gaps.
  • When you are ready to remove the ring, use a butter knife to run around the edge of the cake between the ring and the filling. This way you make sure that the filling doesn’t stick to the ring.

How to store?

The German lemon torte is best served straight from the refrigerator, cold and fresh. Never keep it outside of the fridge for long, as it contains lots of cream that can spoil quickly especially in warm rooms or warm weather.

Leftovers keep well in the fridge for about 2-3 days. Keep in airtight containers.

german torte with buttermilk lemon filling overhead view

German Torte (with Lemon and Buttermilk)

This German torte filled with buttermilk lemon mousse is one of the most refreshing, best-tasting cakes you can imagine. No kidding!
5 from 4 votes
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Course: Cakes
Cuisine: German
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 341kcal
Author: Adina


  • Cake Note 1:
  • 4 eggs medium Germany, large US
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 130 g sugar divided, 2/3 cup/ 4.6 oz
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 75 g pastry/cake flour scant 2/3 cup/ 2.6 oz
  • 50 g corn starch 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon/ 1.7 oz
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • Filling:
  • 8 leaves gelatine
  • 300 ml buttermilk 1 ¼ cup/ 10 fl.oz
  • 150 g sugar ¾ cup/ 5.3 oz
  • 120 ml fresh lemon juice from 3-4 lemons, depending on size, ½ cup/ 5 fl.oz (Note 2)
  • zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 600 ml heavy cream 30 % fat, unsweetened, 2 ½ cups/ 20.2 fl.oz
  • Decoration:
  • 200 ml heavy cream to decorate 3/4 cup/ 6.8 fl.oz
  • 1 packet whipping cream stabilizer optional (Note 3)
  • chopped pistachios to decorate optional
  • 1 organic lemon to decorate optional



  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line only the bottom of a springform (about 26 cm/10.2-inch diameter) with baking paper.
  • Egg whites: Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Slowly add half of the sugar and the vanilla sugar and whisk again until stiff and glossy. Set aside.
  • Egg yolks: In another bowl beat the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar until pale and creamy. Carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  • Mix the flour, starch, and baking powder and sift over the egg mixture. Fold in carefully.
  • Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared form and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let stand for about 5 minutes, remove from the baking form and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.


  • Soak the gelatine leaves for about 10 minutes (or according to the packet instructions) in cold water.
  • Combine: In the meantime, stir together buttermilk, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  • Dissolve the gelatine according to the packet instructions. I squeeze it very gently and place it into a pan large enough to hold the buttermilk mixture as well. I heat the gelatine on the lowest heat while stirring all the time with a spoon. It will only take about 20-30 seconds for the gelatine to dissolve, do not let it boil.
  • Filling: Immediately start adding the buttermilk mixture to the gelatine, one spoonful after another, mixing continuously and only adding the next spoon to the mixture when the previous has been completely incorporated.
    Work quickly, and after incorporating about half of the mixture you can start adding a bit more than one spoonful at a time to the mix. Place this in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes or until it just starts to set.
    Don't let it set, though, or the mixture will turn clumpy when adding the whipped cream.
  • Beat the first 600 ml/ 2 ½ cups whipping cream until stiff and carefully fold into the buttermilk mixture.

Assemble and decorate:

  • Cut the base of the cake into two slices. Place one piece on a cake platter and place the clean ring of the springform (or a special ring for this kind of purpose) around the cake slice.
  • Assemble cake: Pour ½ of the buttermilk-whipping cream mixture on top, level with a spoon, and cover with the second cake slice. Pour the rest of the buttermilk mixture on top, level nicely.
  • Let set: Place the cake in the fridge until set, ideally overnight.
  • Release cake: When the cake is set, carefully go around between the cake and the springform ring with a knife. Remove the ring carefully.
  • Cream: Whisk the rest of the whipping cream slowly adding the stabilizer, if using any. Place a few tablespoons of the cream into a piping bag with a nice nozzle of choice. Spread the rest of the whipping cream on top and around the edge of the cake.
  • Decorate the cake with whipping cream from the piping bag, pistachios, and lemon slices.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.


  1. Use a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients, it ensures the best results. (Amazon affiliate link)
  2. Or use limes instead, the cake will be amazing as well. You will need more than when using lemons as they are smaller.
  3. The cream stabilizer is not always necessary, you will have to decide yourself if the whipped cream is stable enough or not (Amazon affiliate link). The cream stabilizer can be replaced with a mixture of icing sugar and cornstarch in a 1:1 ratio. In this case, you will mix 2 teaspoons icing sugar with 2 teaspoons cornstarch and use exactly as described in the recipe.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 133mg | Sugar: 24g
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @adinabeck or tag #WhereIsMySpoon!

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Recipe Rating

Cakes to Mumbai

Wednesday 17th of August 2016

This cake is really a work of art. So beautiful! I love the whipping cream


Thursday 11th of February 2016

This cake is absolutely beautiful!! Lemon flavored cakes are hands down my favorite. I will have to give this one a try!

Chris Scheuer

Friday 29th of January 2016

This is beautiful and sounds amazing. Lemon always seems to be a hit and when you combine it with buttermilk it's a double winner!

Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop

Wednesday 27th of January 2016

I think we have the same baking spirit! I love baking much as you describe! I never knew there were different kinds of baking powder! It so great to learn new things. This cake looks lovely! Happy baking!!!


Wednesday 27th of January 2016

The baking powder issue was new for me as well. I am glad I found out, I had some fails when baking American recipes and never knew why. Now I know. :)

Lisa | Chocolate Meets Strawberry

Tuesday 26th of January 2016

I'm exactly the same, Adina - I find baking so therapeutic and definitely enjoy the process as much as the products that result! This cake is so beautifully decorated, and it sounds delicious! :D


Wednesday 27th of January 2016

Thanks, Lisa. :)