Typically German: Zwiebelkuchen & Federweißer

My dear blog readers,

Today I am very proud to post a typically German dish which originates in the wine-growing valleys of the Rhine. Oppenheim is one of those picturesque little sleepy towns and my home town. Not much happens there but when falls comes in and it gets time to harvest the grapes, it is a busy place.

Once a year, we follow a special tradition: With the first wine – the so to say first batch of fermented alcohol – we call it Federweißer, we like to serve home-made onion tart. Zwiebelkuchen is the German word for that.

First batch of fermented alcohol may sound a little weird, you think. Well, think of cider and you will be able to picture what I mean. A very sweet, murky drink that is. I was informed that Americans like to refer to Beaujolais Nouveau to describe this kind of wine. The Zwiebelkuchen is simply delicious and easy to make; the only challenge is the peeling and slicing of up to 4 pounds of onions :)

I hope you are curious now. This is one of the few recipes I know and prepare that comes from where I grew up.


Yeast dough

Onion mix

Onion tart in the making

German style onion tart


500 g (1 pound) white wheat flour

1 pack yeast (I prefer fresh yeast, use dry yeast as a substitute)

250 ml  (1 large cup) lukewarm milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 pounds large white onions (can also be sweet onions)

200 g (1/2 pound) bacon cubes

200g or 1 cup sour cream (Schmand in German)

Salt, ground nutmeg, pepper, caraway (optional)


1) Put the flour in a large bowl and form a small hole in the middle.

2) Crumble the yeast with your fingers and mix it with 1-2 tablespoons of lukewarm milk inside the little hole. Only mix the yeast and milk together! Then cover with a towel and put aside in a warm spot (at least room temperature) for 15 min. Yeast dough likes it warm and cozy.

3) Peel the onions, cut them in half and slice them very thinly. I hope you will not cry too much :)

4) After you uncover the bowl, the yeast should have doubled in size. Sprinkle with 1-2 pinches of salt. Then start pouring the remaining, lukewarm! milk and the 2 tablespoons of oil slowly over the dough using a hand mixer to stir.

5) Knead the dough until it is smooth and put aside again for another 20-30 min. Meanwhile start preheating the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 Fahrenheit).

6) In a large pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil. Stir in the onions and keep on stirring until they turn glassy (use a low temperature, you don’t want to fry them). Add the bacon cubes. After 1-2 min season with salt, pepper, ground nutmeg and then add the sour cream. This mix will be your topping.

7) Grease a large baking pan or deep, round cake pan with butter or oil. Sprinkle flour over it. Using your hands press the dough into the baking pan (1 dough for a flat baking pan is fine, split up in 2 parts for a round cake pan). Spread the onion mix on top of the dough, sprinkle with caraway (optional) and bake for about 20-25 min. Before you remove the cake from the oven, use a tooth pick to see whether the dough is good – crumbles are a good sign, raw dough means extending the baking time by at least 5 min.

Guten Appetit und auf Wiedersehen!

– This recipe was prepared during a Yumwe cooking event at my house. Thank you to all participants for the great night. Check out http://www.yumwe.de for more events –

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