Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Spritzen - German Puff Cakes

Spritzen means to squirt in German, and often spritz cookies are made from a dough that is "squirted" through a cookie press to make nice shapes.  Let me tell you, these spritzen are nothing like a cookie.  In fact it is hard to say what they are.  Mine turned out like very sweet, very eggy puddings that you had to eat out of the cup with a spoon. Other students have said it is like Yorkshire pudding, and the photo on the course sheet looks like gorgeous muffins!

puff cakes or puddings?

Clearly it depends on the quantities of egg, sugar and flour that you use.  That being the big problem, in that the recipe tells you next to nothing about quantities and method. Before the advent of the cookbooks that we are used to, you had to be a bloody good cook/mind-reader.

So here it is - my weird and wonderful version of Spritzen, a late Georgian recipe that would have been made and served to King George III and his family.  The Georges I and II were born in Germany, while Georges III and IV were native-born to the UK. Clearly they were not in a hurry to integrate!  And they liked their German tucker, which must have made them feel at home in their new land.

Serves 4:


2 small eggs

2 tbs cornflour or plain flour

228 mls cream or milk

56g. melted butter

2 tbs caster sugar

a pinch of sea salt

1/2 doz. turns of the vanilla bean grinder or 1/2 tsp of extract

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

icing/powdered sugar to cast over the tops


Break 2 eggs into a small mixing bowl

Beat well with electric hand beaters till very fluffy - or, as our course sheet tells us - beat them to within an inch of their life

Add the flour and beat to incorporate

Pour in the cream or milk, and the melted butter

Whisk again with the beaters

Add the sugar, the salt and the spices

Beat again till it is fluffy and well mixed

Take 4 tea cups and grease them lightly with butter

Pour in the batter, leaving a bit of room for expansion

Place them on a baking tray

Bake at 190C for about 20 minutes - it may take a little more depending on your oven

Sprinkle generous amounts of icing sugar over them while warm

Eat with a spoon if they won't come out of the cups:=)

ingredients - gleaming in the sun 

frothing up the eggs

beating in the flour

whisking in the cream, butter, sugar and spices   

ready for baking in the cups  

about to ladle the batter into the cups   

ready for the oven

almost finished

baked and ready to eat

Well, who knows what these should really be like?  The original recipe doesn't tell you to butter the cups, so perhaps that made a difference to the end result.  There is no sugar used in the original batter either, but I felt I wanted a sweet morsel rather than a very plain one.  We don't know the size of the spoon for the flour, so maybe extra would make them more cake-like.  And using plain flour would perhaps have given them a slightly stronger texture. 

Anyway I served them to Mr P. and sis-in-law after dinner, and they went down a treat. Another fun experiment in my History of Royal Food course.  We all seem to be interpreting the recipes differently, so it is fun to discuss the varying results.  And of course, there is a bit of conversion of weights and measures going on.  You have to remember that these are old pints, not new pints; that UK pints are different to US pints and so on.  Phew!

Original recipe Mary Cole. 
The Lady’s Complete Guide, 1788 

Mix two spoonfuls of fine flour with two eggs well beat, half a pint of cream or milk and two ounces of melted butter; stir it all well together, and add a little salt and nutmeg. Put them in tea-cups, or little deep tin moulds, half full, and bake them a quarter of an hour in a quick oven; but let it be hot enough to colour them and top and bottom. Turn them into a dish, and strew powder sugar over them.

my puff cake in a cup doodle


  1. Sounds intriguing as well as a little frustrating if you were expecting cookies but ended up with a pudding! :D

    1. I think I was expecting cakes or muffins but these were nice anyway. Always interesting with these old recipes.

  2. I've always been fascinated with how old recipes are devoid of so much of the information that we expect with recipes today. It's like back then they must have had more common sense or something. It's like Shakespeare's plays that were written without any stage notes as any theatre director was expected to know exactly how Shakespeare wanted the play staged and performed. You made a great effort with these puff cakes considering the lack of instructions! xx

    1. Thanks Charlie. It is very interesting and taxes the brain to work out what the heck is going on with these recipes. :)

  3. This recipe looks very unusual to me. I mean I've already done microwaves chocolate mugcakes, but I've never seen those puff cakes. They looks very cute though. I need to try :)

    1. They were rather better than I expected. A tasty little pudding.

  4. Sounds like an interesting one Sherry. It's so good to try these recipes and experiment though. What cooking is all about really.

    1. always fun to play around with food and cooking Jem!:)

  5. We don't know how good we have it with standardised measurements. I have an old recipe I want to make but every time I read it I think a cup... a cup? that seems like a lot for that ingredient! I'll make it when the spirit and flesh are both strong enough to withstand a potential failure.

    1. It's just so amazing that when the middle classes arose, ordinary people became a bit better off and aspired to greater things including cooks who had regular recipes to use:)

  6. hi Liz
    nope not German. but i did have a German great grandmother:) x


I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comment and I will reply as soon as I can. If you have problems commenting, please try without your WordPress profile. You can try Anonymous (add your name in the text) or your Google account if you have one.