This Oktoberfest cake is going to be the showstopper at your next Oktoberfest party! Oktoberfest beer and chocolate make for the perfect, moist cake, topped with a sweet and salty pretzel cream cheese frosting.
Check out my Oktoberfest recipe guide for more Oktoberfest recipe inspiration!
How to make Oktoberfest cake
This Oktoberfest Torte (Torte is German for a fancy, frosted cake) is not a typical German recipe. In fact, it's a mixture of some of my favorite American cake recipes combined, with the addition of beer in the cake (you won't taste it) and pretzel in the frosting.
To make it, you first prepare the cake batter and bake it in a heart-shaped cake pan. While baking, get your frosting ready. I like to reserve some frosting before adding pretzels to add food coloring too for decorating.
When the cake has cooled, you'll cut it into layers, and frost it. And finally, the fun decorating part starts. If you're into decorating cakes that is!
Since my middle child's birthday is right around the start of Oktoberfest in Munich, I decided to make some Oktoberfest-inspired treats for her party. This Oktoberfest Torte would make such a fun birthday cake. Just write 'Happy Birthday' or 'Zum Geburtstag Viel Glück!' on it!
Oktoberfest cake variations
The little bit of beer in the cake and serving it to kids is not a concern to me. It will bake out. But you know yourself best! You could of course skip the beer and use non-alcoholic beer or milk (dairy or non-dairy) in the batter instead.
The frosting almost tastes like a salted caramel frosting - it's thick and so decadent! And I adore the little pieces of pretzel in it, but you could leave those out as well. I hope you will love it just as much!
Decorating Your Oktoberfest Torte
If you need a few tips for the decorating part, visit my Lebkuchenherz post. That's where I had to look to remind myself of how I wanted to decorate this cake.
The inspiration for this cake is for it to look like the popular decorated gingerbread hearts, called Lebkuchenherzen or Wiesnherzen at Oktoberfest. They are usually bought as a gift for someone attending with you at German Volksfest events including Oktoberfest, but also Christmas markets.
By the way, Lebkuchenherzen are not typically eaten in Germany. The ones I've had also don't taste very good. Lebkuchenherzen are gifted and I used to hang mine as decorations in my bedroom until I would eventually throw them away months later. So you're better off just eating this Oktoberfest cake instead!
Oktoberfest Torte: Beer Chocolate Cake with Pretzel Frosting
Chocolate Beer Cake
Bake The Cake
- Preheat oven to 350° F/ 180° C. Prep the cake pan by rubbing on butter, then dusting with flour. To further avoid the bottom to stick, add a piece of parchment paper.
- Whisk together wet ingredients. Then sift together dry ingredients and gradually add into the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
- Pour into the cake pan and bake for about 40/45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a couple of crumbs on it.
- Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting away from the sides carefully and turning it upside down to release the cake. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Make The Frosting
- Beat together the butter and cream cheese on high for 5ish minutes until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add in the sifted powdered sugar until incorporated, then add the vanilla. Beat on medium high for another 5 minutes.
- In a food processor, pulverize the pretzels (a few small pieces here and there are great). I actually don't own a food processor (believe it or not), so I just put the pretzels in a freezer bag and pounded them with the flat side of a meat tenderizer.
- Reserve ⅓ of the frosting for decorating the cake, then add the pretzels to the remaining ⅔ of the frosting, stirring it on low for about 1 minute or until combined.
Assemble The Oktoberfest Torte
- Once the cake is cooled, cut it in half lengthwise using a cake wire cutter or a bread knife. Add a thick layer of frosting on one of the layers, then top with the other layer of cake. Now add a thin 'crumb coat' onto the cake, then transfer it to the fridge for one hour to set up.
- In the meantime, keep your other frosting sealed, so the surface doesn't harden. Finish the cake with a seond layer of frosting, applying it thicker this time.
- Finally, decorate your cake with the ⅓ of the pretzel-less frosting you set aside earlier. Feel free to color the reserved frosting it any color you like, make borders, flowers, write on it, etc! Get creative! The writings on the Wiesnherzn (Oktoberfest-style, decorated hearts made from gingerbread) are so fun! These type of Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts) can also be found at all sorts of German outdoor fairs and Christmas markets. If you need assitance with the decorating part, visit my Lebkuchenherz post for some ideas and tips!