Spoonfuls of Germany

The doctor who wants you to eat cake and desserts


On a recent trip to Germany, my husband and I had to switch trains in the city of Bielefeld. “Look,” he said, pointing to a large billboard as the train approached the station, “Dr. Oetker.”

In our almost 18 years together, the prominent German food brand has not only become a reference for my husband but he has also learned to slowly pronounce the name with its consonant cluster, Doc-tor Oet-ker, without stumbling, which is not so easy for an American.

We both laughed, reminiscing about the first time when I dished up a Dr. Oetker chocolate pudding from a package, and our then 10-year-old son asked whether it was a real doctor who made it.

Dr. August Oetker was a Bielefeld-based pharmacist, who in 1891 developed Backin baking powder with a consistent quality, and based on its success built a food emporium with international presence that is still family-owned.

Growing up in Germany, the products with the blue-and-red logo with a woman’s head at the bottom were omnipresent. And it wasn’t just the products; the cookbooks were part of daily life, too. My grandmother mostly cooked from her 1939 edition of the Dr. Oetker Schulkochbuch (Dr. Oetker School Cookbook), a yellowed paperback that had literally been through the war and looked like it.

In the early days of our marriage when I started to introduce my new American family to German dishes, I brought back a bunch of Dr. Oetker products from every trip to Germany, even cake and bread mixes. Then, in the early aughts, when I wrote my German regional cookbook, Spoonfuls of Germany, I transitioned to making many of those things, such as vanilla sugar, vanilla pudding and vanilla sauce, from scratch because I wanted American home cooks to be able to recreate authentic German dishes with readily available ingredients. And besides, the homemade version often tastes much better.

However on trips to Germany I still load up on a few Dr. Oetker essentials that are not available in the United States, first and foremost pectin for jams and jellies. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I much prefer it to American pectin.

I got an American friend so hooked to German pectin that I had to bring back some sachets for her as well. Hence my suitcase was already quite full. With Easter coming up, I found room to sneak in a package of Dr. Oetker marzipan carrots.

Sure, those cute cake decorations are also available from other brands. It’s a question of loyalty for me.Swiss Carrot Cake (Aargauer Rüblitorte)

A popular carrot cake in Germany is Aargauer Rüblitorte, which hails from Switzerland. It is dairy-free and lighter than American carrot cakes.

4 large eggs

¾ cup + 3 tablespoons (185 g) sugar

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (250 ml) canola oil

2/3 cup (100 g) finely ground raw unpeeled almonds

6 small or 3 large carrots (12 ounces/340 g), peeled and grated (to make 3 loosely packed cups)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of ½ organic lemon

1 2/3 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Icing and decoration:

1¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon orange extract

12 marzipan carrots to decorate

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line the bottom of a 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
  2. In a large bowl or the stand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the oil and beat for 1 more minute.
  3. Mix ground almonds, carrots, vanilla extract and lemon zest in another bowl. Add to the eggs and stir with a spoon until well combined.
  4. In the second bowl mix flour, salt and baking powder and add to the mixture. Stir well until no traces of flour remain.
  5. Pour the mixture in the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. If the top of the cake turns too dark towards the end, cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
  6. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool on a cake rack.
  7. For the icing, stir the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice and extract until smooth. The icing should be very thick but spreadable.
  8. Evenly cover the cake with the icing and decorate with marzipan carrots while the icing is still soft. Let set before cutting.

Makes 12 servings



8 thoughts on “The doctor who wants you to eat cake and desserts

  1. Tolle Torte, Möhrchen aus Marzipan?

  2. Looks yum and tasty 🙂

  3. How funny, I just came back from Germany with three packets of Dr Oetker pectin in my suitcase!! 🙂 In France I can sometimes find the 2:1 sugar, but it usually involves a half-hour trek to the next hypermarket. I have the Schulkochbuch and the Baking book, and I use them regularly for basic recipes. Having said that, my last Dr Oetker baking experience (Gebaeck in Formen), baking an Easter Lamb cake, was not entirely successful!

  4. Not being a good baker, this one looks like even I might be able to accomplish this one successfully 🙂 AND it is extra nutritious!

  5. Good to see the cake plate in use. If it was blue or red, I might have kept it.

  6. This carrot cake looks marvellous, and it is intriguing that it is dairy free.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s