‘The Great British Bake Off’ now has a German version – ‘Das Grosse Backen’. It proved so popular last year that the second series has been moved to a prime slot and starts next month in the run-up to Christmas. Cakes have always been one of Germany’s favourite foods and ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ is practically a national institution. It’s a wonderful excuse for drinking a cup of good coffee (or tea) and eating a large piece of cake in the late afternoon.
At the moment autumn is everywhere in Berlin. In a city with so many trees the pavements are scattered with golden leaves, the light is mellow and there is a chill in the air. A perfect time to seek out the best cafés for delicious cake. There are plenty to choose from, all with large glass display cabinets of tempting and eye-catching confections, but you have to know where to go to find the cakes with real home-made flavour. Here are my top five picks this October, all in different Berlin districts.
Just warm enough to eat outside – blankets provided
Top choice in Charlottenburg is Frau Behrens Torten. This traditional café has a really warm atmosphere. There are two interesting rooms with wooden tables, a grand piano decorated with flowers and plenty of seating space outside. It’s only a two minute walk from Adenauer Platz, just off the Kurfürstendamm. I went with a group of friends and we all raved about our own individual choice of cake. Top marks for the Himbeer-Mascarpone Torte (Rasberry marscarpone gateau) and the Pflaumenstreuselkuchen (Plum crumble cake). The choice of teas is particularly good too.
Inside Frau Behrens
If you are staying in the borough of Mitte there is nothing to beat Barcomi’s Deli tucked away in a courtyard at Sophienstraße 21. This is a cult café with a perfect Berlin setting and the coffee and cakes are both perfection. Cynthia Barcomi, originally from the States, is now Berlin’s Baking Queen and has published several books on baking. She opened her first coffee and cake shop in Kreuzberg ten years ago and has never looked back. Try her Apple Walnut Caramel Cake and you will understand why.
Delicious cake and perfect coffee at Barcomi’s
Slightly more off the beaten track is KaffeeRaum in Prenzlauer Berg. There are plenty of good cafes near Kollwitzplatz but this place is on the other side of Prenzlauer Allee at Bötzowstraße 25, in a neighbourhood (‘Kiez’) of gentrified cobbled streets. The décor is an interesting mix of modern and retro GDR and the long wooden table has two permanently-lit tall candelabra. Everything is home-made with organic ingredients and the coffee specially roasted. It was really hard to choose a slice of cake from the many on offer in the display cabinet but the Haselnußkuchen (hazelnut cake) and Käsesahnetorte (a light cheese and cream gateau) won the day and were both outstanding.
Locals love KaffeRaum
Back in the West Berlin borough of Schöneberg you can’t beat Impala, only a stone’s throw from Nollendorfplatz Station, for a good cup of coffee. There are plenty of African blends to choose from and although the cakes are crammed into a small glass display cabinet on the counter, the brownies are something really special. We went there straight from the Saturday market on Winterfeldtplatz market where you can also buy cake to take back for tea. One stall selling home-made ‘Bienenstich’ (bee sting cake!) couldn’t keep up with the demand.
Buy a slice of cake at the market and enjoy top coffee at Impala
Finally, here’s somewhere new and a bit different in Wilmersdorf on the southern side of the Ku’damm. Café Crème Caramel on Pariser Straße 59 has already found Berlin fans who come from far and wide for morning coffee, lunch or tea. This is where you will find ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ with a touch of Italian flair. The lemon curd tart is in a class of its own and the coffee is heavenly. Home-made pasta dishes are also highly recommended. This gem of a café is only open weekdays.
Great service and home-made cakes at Crème Caramel