Recipe/Tutorial: German Schneeball Torte (Orange “Snow Ball Cake”)

During our trip to Germany this past February, my husband and I were served a cake that really stuck in our minds. The cake was “Schneeball Torte”, a 3-layered mandarin orange cake that’s delightfully tart and refreshing. I immediately asked the baker for her recipe, but I was dismayed to find it contained two ingredients I’d have great trouble acquiring in the states: schmand and Fraix brand orange drink powder. I took the recipe back anyway (along with a bunch of Fraix packets) with the goal in mind to make the recipe work back home.

After some fiddling, I’m happy to say I have a recipe that gets extremely close to the original! If you’re looking for something a little different to try this Thanksgiving, I highly recommend this impressive-looking cake. For the Germans out there, the original recipe can be found at Lecker. I made some changes outside of just making the lack of schmand  and Fraix work, so feel free to try either version!

Schneeball Torte

Sponge Cake

25g (scant 1/4 cup) corn starch
80g (3/4 cup) flour
1 tbsp baking powder
4 eggs
125g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 scraped vanilla bean
60ml (1/4 cup) grand marnier or other orange liquer

1. Prehead your oven to 190°C (375°F) and line a well-greased 9″ cake pan with parchment paper. With a mixer, beat the eggs on high speed for 4 minutes or until pale and thickened. Add the vanilla and continue beating, then beat for another 3 minutes on high while slowly adding the sugar.
2. Sift together the corn starch, flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and fold until barely combined. Take care not to deflate the egg foam. Pour batter into pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake and flip it onto a sheet of parchment immediately. Brush with the grand marnier. Place the cake pan back on top of the cake to seal in moisture and allow to cool in this position.
3. Once the cake has cooled completely, level off the top and then place the cake on your cake plate. Place the cake in a 9″ cake ring/springform OR wrap a long strip of acetate around the sides and secure it with tape.

Sour Cream Layer

2 314g (11 oz) cans of mandarin oranges (Keep the juice for this recipe and mousse recipe)
100ml (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) of drained mandarin orange juice
400g (1 3/4 cup) sour cream
200g (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) heavy cream
40g (a little over 3 tbsp) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp + 1 tsp gelatin
45ml (3 tbsp) drained mandarin orange juice

1. Mix gelatin into mandarin orange juice in a small bowl, and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat heavy cream to soft-medium peaks. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, vanilla and sour cream.
2. In a microwave or over a double boiler, just barely melt the gelatin. Do not boil! If using microwave, 10 seconds should do the trick. Pour the gelatin over the sour cream mixture and whisk it together immediately. Stir in the mandarin oranges. Fold the heavy cream into the mixture.
3. Pour the sour cream mixture over your cake and jiggle it a bit to level it out. If it’s firmed up too much for this to work, you can use a knife to smooth it down. Place cake in fridge for 30 minutes to an hour, or until totally set.

Orange Mousse “Snow Balls”

500g (2 cups + 2 tbsp) heavy cream
100g (3.5 oz) good quality orange drink mix (Choose one that is more sour/tangy than sweet)
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp gelatin
20ml (1 tbsp + 1 tsp) drained mandarin orange juice

2 tbsp very finely ground coffee
2 tbsp cocoa powder

1. Pour the mandarin orange juice over the gelatin and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, vanilla and drink mix, and beat to medium peaks. In a microwave or over a double boiler, just barely melt the gelatin. Pour it into the cream and beat it immediately until incorporated. Pour the mousse mixture into a large dish (the shape is unimportant, just make sure you can get good scoops with an ice cream scoop) and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour, or until set.
2. Pull the cake and mousse out of the fridge. Using a warmed ice cream scoop (I had a bowl of hot water nearby that I dipped the scoop into between each scoop), make balls of mousse and arrange them on top of the cake.
3. Stir together the cocoa powder and coffee grounds, and using a sieve, very lightly sprinkle them over the top. Be sure not to overdo it; the coffee has a strong flavor and will quickly overpower the cake.
4. Remove the liner. (If using only a cake ring, run a warm cloth around the sides to release the mousse.) Serve and enjoy!

Hopefully you’ll like this cake as much as we did! We polished it off at a shameful speed.


    • Katharina
      Katharina says:

      I used the Fraix I brought from Europe, however I tasted various drink mixes and I think both Tang and TRUE Orange would do just fine. In the case of the latter you may end up needing to add more sugar. Just be sure it’s on the more tangy side of the spectrum and avoid artificial sweeteners if you can, as I personally feel it takes away from the flavor.

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