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Virtually unknown outside of Wisconsin, Schaum Torte is the German equivalent of Pavlova. It’s perfect topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or ice cream!

Schaum Torte is a German meringue dessert widely known to Milwaukee residents of German descent.

Many of our grandparents, including my maternal grandma, made Schaum Torte topped with fruit and ice cream for special occasions, and the dessert is also popular at a local German restaurant.

Whether you make a full-size Schaum Torte or the miniature “cookies” version I show here, Schaum Torte is a sweet dessert worth trying!

Schaum torte topped with berries.

Schaum Torte History

A specialty from Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular, Schaum Torte was created by German immigrants and shared with their descendants.

Schaum Tortes are popular for Memorial Day celebrations when strawberries are in season. My grandma in particular loved to make Schaum Torte for bridal showers because they are such a pretty dessert. It’s also popular at Christmas.

Schaum Torte vs. Pavlova

Pavlova, named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, is a meringue-based dessert (probably?) created in New Zealand in 1927. While these desserts look nearly identical, Pavlova contains corn starch and Schaum Torte does not.

How to Make a Schaum Torte

While our grandmothers whipped egg whites by hand (“beat the heck out of ’em”), we can use modern technology to our advantage.

In a standing mixer, or with an electric hand mixer, start with a combination of egg whites, water, and salt and beat until stiff. Slowly add part of the sugar, cream of tartar, and vinegar.

Finally, add the remaining sugar and vanilla. At this point you can either dollop spoonfuls of meringue onto parchment or pipe circles with a piping bag.

Schaum Torte being made on parchment paper.

Finally, bake in the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven for 30 minutes longer.

Top with fresh or frozen fruit (thawed), especially berries, and drizzle any extra juice over the top.

How to Make a Full-Size Schaum Torte

If you’d like to make a full-size Schaum Torte instead of the miniature version, simply transfer the meringue to a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Follow the baking instructions, leaving the baked shell in the oven with the heat off for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes.

Virtually unknown outside of Wisconsin, Schaum Torte is the German equivalent of Pavlova. It's perfect topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or ice cream!

Schaum Torte

Virtually unknown outside of Wisconsin, Schaum Torte is the German equivalent of Pavlova. It's perfect topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or ice cream!
4.95 from 19 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, German
Calories 154

Ingredients 

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar divided
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fresh berries for serving
  • Whipped creeam for serving
  • Fresh mint for garnish, optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. With a Sharpie-type permanent pen, trace six 3-inch circles on each sheet of parchment paper, and flip over in pan (marker side down).
  • In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, or using an electric hand mixer on medium-high, beat the egg whites, water and salt until stiff peaks form (a peak on the edge of the beater holds its shape without bending).
  • With mixer still on medium-high, very slowly add, over the course of 2-3 minutes, 1 cup sugar, cream of tartar, and vinegar.
  • Add the other 1 ¼ cups of sugar, again very slowly, and vanilla. Beat for 10 minutes on medium speed.
  • To prepare the piping bag, snip a corner off a large zippered plastic bag or pastry bag. Place a large decorating tip into the corner opening (I use a Wilton 1M). Spoon half of the meringue into the bag and twist the top closed.
  • Starting in the center of each circle and moving in a circular pattern outward, fill each circle with meringue. Continue piping around the outside edges, forming walls (I usually go around 2 or 3 more times, depending on how tall I want my tortes). Use your finger to smooth out the top where the piping tops. Repeat with remaining meringue until all 12 tortes have been formed.
  • Place in preheated oven and bake 1 hour, then turn heat off and leave Schaum Tortes in oven for another 30 minutes. Remove and store in an airtight container. Serve with fresh berries and whipped cream and garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired.

Notes

  • To make tortes without piping, drop large spoonfuls of meringue onto the circles on prepared sheet pans and hollow out the centers with a teaspoon.
  • To make one full-size Schaum Torte: Follow the first 4 steps as written. Then, transfer the meringue to a 9-inch buttered spring form pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, turn off heat, and leave shell in the oven for 1 hour more (instead of 30 minutes).
  • Adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine.

Nutrition

Calories: 154kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSodium: 122mgPotassium: 46mgSugar: 38gCalcium: 2mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. My grandson prefers the Schaumtorte, no filling, to any other dessert so I decided to surprise him with a Schaumtorte today using your recipe. Your recipe was easy to follow and definitely foolproof for making a meringue. I couldn’t believe how large the volume became. My entire KitchenAid mixer bowl was filled. With the volume, I think I could have made 12 individual Schaumtorte’s. The outside of the finished product is completely dry, the inside is soft and chewy, more like the inside of a marshmallow, not dry but that is what I’ve been told you want. It is not overly sweet which is perfect for me. In looking at the pictures of your torte’s, mine are huge. I filled the 3 inch circle but then as I spread it out and after baking, it became a 5 inch circle.
    I’m not concerned about the moisture inside the shell, just would like your thoughts. Should I have decreased the whipping time after the 2nd addition of sugar which would have decreased the volume? Baked it at a higher temperature? Halved the recipe since I don’t need 6 large, much less 12 smaller Schaumtorte’s. Are yours completely dry on the inside? Thank you in advance for your thoughts and comments.
    Christine5 stars

    1. Hi Christine! What a lovely treat for your grandson! I wouldn’t say mine are completely dry on the inside, they do have a texture in the middle. I think halving the recipe might be best for you, but also these do freeze beautifully if you make a full batch again. I’m so glad you loved them, I don’t like mine overly sweet, either. Take care! – Meggan

  2. Thank you for posting this and giving a bit of its history! I had this recipe from a great-grandmother from Wisconsin but wasn’t sure if the vinegar was correct. When I looked it up and found your post, it explains why the recipe had been hard to find online in the past.
    I am looking forward to making these this Christmas! Thank you!

    1. Hi Angie, yes! They will. Make sure they are stored in an airtight container. – Meggan

  3. These were so yummy!! I’m wondering if my oven temperature wasn’t hot enough though? Mine were crisp all over but a little chewy like nougat toward the bottom center. When my mom made them they were always super crisp. What did I do wrong?5 stars

    1. Hi Carolyn, I’m glad you enjoyed them! I don’t think you did anything wrong, but I wonder if your mom left them sitting in the oven longer after turning the oven off? I hope this helps! – Meggan

  4. Hi! Do you know if these individual schaum tortes can be frozen? And how long they will last once made fresh? Thanks in advance!5 stars

    1. Hi Casey, yes I don’t see why not. They will last two weeks if stored at room temperature or frozen in an airtight container. Enjoy! – Meggan

  5. I’m a Wisco girl too. My grandmother always made these for us as kids. I’ve never tried, until today. They looked great, but upon eating I discovered that the inside bottom was kind of wet. I’m used to chewy, but these were more than that. I did make them bigger than prescribed (9 vs 12) and did add a few minutes to the baking time. I couldn’t find anything about the food safety of egg whites undercooked and left at room temp for several hours, so although I did eat most of my portion before considering food safety, I tossed the rest. I didn’t want to risk sick kids. I’ll try again someday and will make them smaller.4 stars

    1. Hi Rebecca, since I haven’t made the larger version I can’t really say how much longer they would need to be baked to come out right. As far as the food safety issue, I personally would toss them like you did. You really only need to “worry” about sensitive groups of people such as small children, pregnant women, and the elderly. But still, if they weren’t cooked, or if you aren’t sure, I just wouldn’t risk it. I will put it on my list to test a larger size so I can figure out the correct baking time. Thank you! -Meggan

  6. Schaum Torte was *always* a summer treat in my family and usually topped with strawberries.
    For one it was light and airy so a perfect finish during the humid summertime, but we also found ourselves with an over abundance of strawberries. Schaum Torte provided another outlet for those fresh berries before making preserves or jams. 5 stars

  7. How do you make them a bit more chewy and less crunchy inside. I saw it is usually the temp and time. Can you please give me the more chewy temp and time or changes needed to achieve this.

  8. My Grandmother insisted that Schaum Torte could only be made on a bright sunny day. Leave it overnight in the oven nd NEVER peek!!!

  9. We had Schaum Tortes at Easter because, well, eggs, lol. And, Mom used the leftover yolks for Hollandaise Sauce for the asparagus. She (and I) turn off the oven and let them sit overnight after baking. I guess everyone does it a little differently. I’m also on team strawberry with a little whipped cream on top.

  10. Also, the filling was always macerated strawberries, never cream— that was reserved for the exterior. The cream causes the layers to fall apart, and iced cream would weigh it down. Doesn’t work with a lighter bake, though it wouldn— and could be frozen with— a more thorough bake.

    1. I’m so grateful for your thoughtful comments and knowledge about Schaum Torte, Theo!! I obviously don’t know nearly as much as you do, but now I can learn. And other readers who are stopping by to learn more will benefit from your generosity. Thank you so much, I really appreciate you!

  11. Thank you, Annabelle—
     Indeed, I have my grandmother’s as well as *her grandmother’s* hand written recipes for the Schaumtorte— not much varied, except for what was available, and when! ;) The quality of the cream a major sticking point. And you are right to think the double-layered version was considered a high occasion celebration. I do think, though, it is significantly different in its qualities from the more firmly baked, uniformly crunchy and chewy varieties of similar meringue dishes. This is very Prussian, but there is an old Austrian dish of poached meringue islands in cream sauce, served with berries, which I find somewhat related.
    Also, I have heard some old recipes used bananas— my family never did, though my grandmother mentioned it… you might keep in mind what a novel and luxurious but increasingly ubiquitous thing the import of bananas would have been at that time. As a side note, their bananas would been richer than ours, as the prevalent varietal was wiped out in the 1910s, as memorialized by the song ‘Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today…”.
    Best,
    Theo

  12. This is very attractive but a somewhat different schaum torte not representative as it is known in old northern German families who emigrated to the states–– I agree, it is very much a Wisconsin-Prussian thing.

    My grandmother, born 1913, had made schaumtorte for special events and family birthdays throughout her life, relating that her mother had done the same when good fresh cream and ice were available. They would have a two layered soft meringue with macerated sugared strawberry filling and an exterior covered with whipped cream, garnished by harder meringue dollops and fresh strawberry. The texture of a tall stabilized soft meringue interior (even though the layers have crispiness to them on their respective exteriors as well) is really an essential stylistic difference in the old style. They also must be kept well-chilled because of this.5 stars

    1. Hi Theo, awesome post. The wonderful thing about these old Germanic schaum torte recipes is they varied in size and shape from family to family. The recipe your grandmother made, a double layer meringue torte filled with whipped cream or ice-cream, and macerated strawberries, was extremely popular and particularly associated with high occasion celebrations (and no wonder, these things were incredibly labor intensive and time consuming to make before the advent of electric mixers and ovens). I bet your grandmothers recipe dates back to the nineteenth century – handed down from mother to daughter. I have been mapping the jump point from Germany to the USA, and you are right – looks like a beloved Prussian innovation.

  13. Great post – love the personal history you included. On the Schaum Torte vs. Pavlova – they are identical constructions. The first recipe to surface for “Pavlova Cake” does in a 1929, in a New Zealand publication. “Pavlova Cakes” also surfaced in New Zealand in 1928, but these were small coffee-nut kisses. Australia published the first recipe for “Pavlova” in 1926 (a ribbon jelly). “Strawberries Pavlova” dates back to 1911 (probably English). As to corn starch – it is not included in many of the first antipodean pavlova cake recipes and is not viewed as a mandatory ingredient, in fact my mums 70 year old pavlova recipe has no corn starch added, just egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, salt, vinegar and vanilla extract.

  14. Is this Schaum torte tasting the same as Pavlova? I mean chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside or is it just crispy and crumbly overall? Has anyone here tasted both to answer this question?

    1. Hi Diana. I’ve made over one hundred schaum tortes, pavlovas and others in my research on the subject. They are all the same thing – with small recipe variations across both meringue cake styles. It is really the baking times and heat settings that make them more or less crispy. Schaum torte well-predate the pavlova. The oldest schaum torte recipe I’ve baked came from the US Midwest c.1850. I put it in front of all my Australian friends and no one could tell the difference – because there is none.

    1. Hi Cindy! Yes, they hold up just fine (I assume you’re thinking for a few hours, not a few days). It’s actually nice if you fill them first and if any juices accumulate in the bottom of the torte and soften it up and make it chewy. Those are the best bites. If you have other questions or want more specific information just let me know! Thank you!