The United States certainly has some culinary achievements to be proud of… deep-fried Oreos and multi-thousand calorie burgers, to name a few. Although we surely know how to pack in the extra calories to amp up our favorite comfort foods, we don’t often use the mid-afternoon slump as an excuse to share a slice of cake with friends.

In Germany there is a tradition of having coffee and cake, or rather Kaffee und Kuchen, in the afternoon. This is a time to sit down with friends and family and catch up. Even though it doesn’t happen as frequently as it used to, with technology increasing the pace of life, it is still not uncommon to see groups enjoying a sweet treat and coffee on a Sunday afternoon in Germany.

There isn’t one specific kind of cake that always marks this tradition; it can be anything from an elaborate torte made at a local bakery to a soft sponge cake topped with seasonal fruit.

During my time in Germany this past summer, I returned home from a casual day exploring castles to see this gorgeous cake:

Kaffee und Kuchen

Photo by Katherine Surko

This is one of the aforementioned sponge cakes, known as Guglehupf or Obstkuchen, which was topped with strawberries and served with a heavy dollop of homemade whipped cream. Simple, and oh so perfect. There is nothing more incredible than coming home after a tiring day, sitting down with friends and family and spending over an hour simply enjoying each other’s presence over a tasty dessert. And that is why I am on a mission to bring this sweet tradition back to the U.S. We may have missed National German-American Day on October 6th, but it’s a new year, so why not have your cake (in the afternoon) and eat it (with friends), too?


Kaffee und Kuchen

Photo by Kathleen Young

So by all means, go treat yourself to a slice of cake and some coffee this afternoon – you’ve earned it. And if you want to really imitate the Germans and get fancy, try something like a Black Forest cake or even this pumpkin Bundt cake

If you’re looking for more sweet traditions, check out these cakes from other countries around the world: