Wisconsin Schaum Tortes

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Schaum-TortesHappy birthday to my mom, Gloria.  She used to make us Schaum Tortes.

laughing_edited-2 Googling around, I had a laugh reading, “Unless you’re from Wisconsin, you won’t know what a Schaum Torte is.”  I’m a native Californian who ate a lot of ‘em but that makes sense… both my folks are from Wisconsin.  Mom, a Kewaunee farm girl, hit sunny LA as a lanky young beauty and working gal.  She, her sister and finally their mom settled in happen’ Hollywood.  Marriage and five daughters ensued; she’s worked just about all her life, still does.  That didn’t leave much time or energy to be a Julia Child-wannabe.  Key to my mom’s cooking: efficiency and economy.

Mom made plenty of Schaum Tortes during our Strawberry Field Free Grab episode.  Cheap, easy to prepare and really sweet, this was a miracle recipe.  Martha Stewart Magazine calls these delicate, airy treats Meringues.  Elsewhere, when called Pavlova, the whole recipe is made as one big one.  Top with wonderful things, chop into portions and yum.

Schaum Tortes are individual (maybe Wisconsonians also make one honkin’ Schaum, not sure).  If you can whip eggs to a froth, you’ve got it down.  Shape them into serving vessels, bake, cool, then spoon on fruit, jam, ice cream, fudge sauce, whipped cream or a combo of those.

TIP: When you separate your eggs, watch that not even a speck of yolk gets in there.  You also need a super clean mixing bowl.  Even the tiniest bit of fat will prevent your egg whites from whipping up properly.

Wisconsin Schaum Tortes

  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar and vinegar, beat on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl).  Add vanilla and sugar a little at a time, beating on high speed until very stiff peaks form.  Make twelve tortes on greased and floured cookie sheets (I use Bakers Joy) using the back of the spoon to build up sides and dent the middle.

Bake for 50 minutes.  Then turn off the oven, leave undisturbed and allow meringues to sit with the door closed for 1 more hour.  Loosen tortes from cookie sheets before they are cold.  Makes 12.

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathy March 16, 2016 at 3:22 pm

I’m so glad I found your website. Loved the stories. I too am 65 yrs old and from Racine and grew up with Schaum tortes being my favorite. I have a recipe but just wanted to do a little digging. I had a schaum torte attack last night and ran to several stores in the Shorewood area and no one had any. Sendiks used to carry them. Well, I still am craving it so I’m just going to make a batch tonight.
And you are correct that Karl Ratzsche always had it on their menu. Maybe still does. Now I am remembering that Pandl’s in Whitefish Bay also has it on their menu. I’m sure it is German although Racine was also a very Danish city. That’s why they have/had so many wonderful Danish bakeries. If you are ever there, go to O & H Bakery and get yourself a REAL kringle. Pecan is the best. Nice to remember all this. I do get to Racine quite often to visit relatives and I’m only 1/2 hour north of Racine. Just far enough!!!

2 Kathy Waters January 25, 2016 at 10:55 am

I’m a Racine girl with German and Danish heritage. My mom would make Schaum torte for special occasions…..I loved it! Also, when we would go to Green Lake, WI we occasionally ate at Norton’s On The Lake (back in the 60’s) and they served it as a dessert with Strawberries. YUM YUM YUM!!!

3 Margie Welniak January 23, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Hi from Wisconsin. Thanks for the recipe, and BTW when you’re from Wisconsin, you’re a Wisconsinite, not a Wisconsonian. We’ll let you slide since you never lived here. LOL

4 Joe Glotz September 23, 2015 at 5:58 am


5 karenother July 30, 2015 at 6:39 am

Love the stories. Was also from WI, German heritage, with a grandma who made these. My favorite restaurant serving this was Milwaukee’s Karl Ratzsche’s, which made it about 8″ high – ice cream, strawberries, whipped cream, layers of the white meringue. Wish I could visit and find out if it is still made the same! I tried this recipe. It had a lemony taste from the vinegar/cream of tarter. Didn’t mind that taste, but got a whopping migraine after eating bowl remnants. Looking up cream of tarter tells me it is made from wine byproduct, which may have caused my migraine, and/or cuz it was not yet baked off. Next time I will make with 1/8 tsp vinegar per egg white, no cream of tarter. They both do the same volumizing so I can eliminate one. Look up cream of tarter substitution at ehow. Tried the suggestion to leave in oven over night and it they turned out perfectly! Again, thanks for all the lovely stories and recipe.

6 Jeannelle July 27, 2015 at 11:54 am

I am from Milwaukee and remember going downtown with my mom to Gimbles restaurant for lunch and we always had Schaum torte for dessert it was the best !

7 Deborah July 11, 2015 at 12:17 pm

What great memories. My grandmother from Fox Point, Milwaukee also made Schaum Tortes. She however made them in greased cupcake tins. The tops came out fluffy and crunchy and the bottoms a tiny bit spongy. She removed the ST top and added vanilla ice cream and a few heaping spoonfuls of strawberry sauce to the middle. Top then replaced. Beautiful presentation. Makes me miss her and this delicious dessert.

8 Worth The Whisk July 10, 2015 at 3:27 pm

I typically scramble one yolk at a time with a whole egg for breakfast. There are lots of recipes that call for only yolks, too.

9 Claire July 10, 2015 at 8:24 am

How do we use the egg yolks?

10 Claire July 10, 2015 at 8:15 am

Don’t forget to use them in a dish called Eton Mess. You layer broken meringues, fruit and ice cream in a tall type glass so you can see the layers rather like you see for trifle. It’s easy and a way to use broken meringues. It’s a famous dish from England I think. Check with Ina Garten.

11 Tina June 19, 2015 at 11:24 am

My mother and aunt would bake them on brown paper. They came out delicious!

12 veames May 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Thank you for the great article on schaum tortes! I could not understand why no one else knew about them?? Our restaurant in Sturgeon Bay, Door County, was known for its cherry schaum tortes. They were filled with a huge scoop of ice cream, covered in cherries and juice topped with real whipped cream!! My mother would make them at home and carefully transport them to the restaurant. She was so careful as everyone said she had the “most beautiful tortes” in Wisconsin!!! We loved it when one broke as my sisters and I were allowed to only eat those!!! Love the childhood memories generated by your article and all the comments!!!

13 Tracy Lux March 23, 2015 at 4:09 pm

At last the mystery is solved. Could not figure out why none of my friends had ever heard of this name. Yes I’m from Wisconsin, Whitefish Bay outside of MIlwaukee. My Mom born in 1913 loved this desert. She filled them with ice cream, fresh strawberries mashed up poured over and whipped cream. EVery Mothers Day, (also many times her birthday on May 12) this was on the menu! Her heritage was Norwegian and Swedish so apparently those folks got mixed up with the Germans and all adapted it. I am having a dinner party for a bunch of Brits this month and going to serve for desert. The only problem in Sarasota is going to be keeping them crisp and dry as I think the humidity might make them collapse and get chewy/ the only place to get this desert in town is Millie’s Tea Room. That owner originally came from WI as well. One of their top items are swedish pancakes with Lingonberries. Thanks for the nice article Tracy

14 Lou A. (Luedtke) Easton February 3, 2015 at 7:55 am

Read your article on schaum torte. I tok am fromantic Kewaunee & raised on a farm outside of NoNorman. Would love to know your mother’s last name.

15 Samantha November 28, 2014 at 8:31 am

Yes! I’m from Texas, but my gramma (MN) would always make this and custard (so not to waste the yolks). Thank you for posting this!

16 Elizabeth Weninger October 21, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I had 11 siblings and German Parents and their Heritage was always spoken and traditions were to be carried on. Schaum Torte was for every occasion year round.
On my 75 birthday celebration my out of State Sons came to celebrate. I live in Iowa now but we went to Wisconsin to the family homestead and they invited all my siblings and all the cousins. Of course my children ordered the Schaum Torte.
They thought one wasn’t enough so I made 3. When desert time came all the small children were first in line with their desert plate to be sure they got some.
I did the dishing up the plates to be sure all of the 52 guest would get a portion.
Some diabetics in the clan so they had a sugar free geltin desert for them. The most important trick to a perfect torte is to use old eggs at room temp. Meaning not fresh from the nests like we had. I never had luck with leaving it in the oven to cool. I am 77 yrs now and probably was 12 years old when I made my first. I am the pro at this in our family. I bake it and take it out to cool. It is crusty on the outside and really foamy marschmellowey in the center. We make it in a 9×12 pan. Making one here for a German Festival at our church Sunday. Only German food will be served. It will be catered in from the Bier Stube people. German Bier und Gemutlichkeit. There will be judging of the best German desert. Guess who is going to win the contest? With the thousands I have made in the past, I bet you the best desert chosen will be my Schaum Torte. So cross your fingers for me!!lol

17 KAREN September 4, 2014 at 5:22 am

Has anyone heard of a shaum torte recipe using pretzels?

18 Christine April 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I’m from Appelton and aunts grandmas and my mom all made Shaum Torte each a little different but always 2 disks and layered with berries and whipped cream. Raspberries was the summer version or peaches while spring use strawberries. I use parchment paper and the turn off the oven method. For Easter I’m making my own pasta with 6 egg yolks so I then have 6 egg whites. I now live in Florida and have been gone from Wisconsin for 50 years but childhood is always something to go back to through good food. Thank you for your recipe.

19 Judy December 19, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I made mine this year about a week before Christmas. I store them like my mom did…in a tall tin container, the kind popcorn comes in. They have always kept well like this.

20 Worth The Whisk December 19, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Patty, weather affects meringues and makes them sticky within a day if the air is damp. I would only make up to a day ahead or so for best results.

21 Patty December 19, 2013 at 11:43 am

Does anyone know how long they will last? Still almost a week before Christmas, do I need to wait till a day ahead of time. When my mom made them, with 8 kids they were all gone that night after dinner. I would love to surprise my siblings since I am hosting this year. Middleton WI all German grandparents 🙂

22 Judy December 14, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I’m from Wisconsin and love to eat schaum torte like a cookie, just plain! My mom always made schaum tortes for Christmas and now I do the same.

23 Worth The Whisk September 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Evie, schaum tortes (from my experience) are very light with a delicate crunch, not hard to cut with a fork.

24 Evie Andersen September 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I am confused as I purchased 8 schaum tortes from a bakery and I served them and found out that they were hard to cut and eat with a fork….I use to make them and I do not remember they were so hard to cut a bite with a fork….why were they that hard from a bakery….I should have made my own….

25 Colleen July 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I haven’t made these in over 20 years. My grandmother and mother were from Milwaukee, and this was always a VERY special summer treat. I had seven egg whites in the refrigerator, but after finding your post, they are now Schaum Tortes baking in the oven. Thank you so much!

26 Joan June 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Thank you for posting this, I am from Cedar Grove WI and my Auntie Joyce used to be the Schaum Torte maker in the family and it was always a treat. When I was out and picked up fresh raspberries today I thought how great they would be with a schaum torte, so thanks. This will be another new experience from my childhood for my children.

27 Marsha March 27, 2013 at 9:52 am

I am from Watertown, WI and now I live in Las Vegas! My grandmother used to make an un-baked schaum torte. I cannot find her recipe or one online. If anyone has one, please email it! If I remember right, it was made with egg whites, sugar and gelatin, etc. She would put it in an angel food pan to set in the refridgerator. We would slice it like cake and put fruit and whip cream on. The recipe is probably 60 plus years old! Help! Thank you.

28 Karen February 21, 2013 at 6:41 am

LOVE Schaum Tortes! Love them with all of the fabulous different topping combinations. Fabulous memories of growing up in Waukesha, WI. People here in MN have no clue what I am talking about. My mom used to put a different spin on it at Christmas time by adding crushed candy cane to them and creating little spoon sized dollops on the pan. Perfect size for holiday cookies and people loved them! They were light and sweet ( but not overly sweet), and they were a nice break from all of the super rich and overly sweet Christmas cookies everyone else served.

29 Michelle February 12, 2013 at 8:12 am

Thank you for posting this recipe and comments. Yep, it must be a Wisconsin thing!! We are from Racine and Beloit Wisconsin. My mom always made these for Valentine’s day with strawberries and whipped cream. My father was from Germany.

30 Ann Wink December 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm

What fun to find “Wisconsin Shaum Torte”….yeah for the internet!!
I too am from Wisconsin…Oshkosh. Looking through my German grandmother’s old recipe box, I found shaum torte. It’s the same ingredients, but she would put them in muffin tins in a 350 degree oven turn. Then turn it off and let stand in the over for 1 hour. These were always a big hit in the summer with strawberries and also served at my mother’s bridge club!!!
What fond memories….

31 Joyce Law July 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

You made my day. I am a Milwaukee girl living in the Canadian north. We are having a heat wave (unusual up here). I was thinking of making Schaum tortes for a special dessert tonight. My mother, was a beauty like yours, and made magnificent Schaum tortes and many other tasty desserts for her large family. Thank you for taking me back in time to a simpler and sweeter time. Perfect.

32 Janie Watson June 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I’m from Whitewater, and we ate schaum tortes all the time, being farmers and having a lot of eggs. However we’re Irish, and I thought this dessert came from the German influence around Milwaukee.

33 Dani January 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I too am from Wisconsin and can say that i get my share of schaum torte every Christmas. My uncle makes everyone a mini one for Christmas Eve and my grandma makes two giant schaum tortes for Christmas day (one banana and one strawberry). I was shocked to hear that nobody in my foods class knew what it was so i thought i’d try to make it for my final project… this post was definitely very helpful 😀

34 Worth The Whisk November 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Judy, thanks to your comment I plan to make this again in a cake pan, WHOA yum.

35 judy monti November 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm

my home town is Gleason, Wis. And my grandmother made the indivdual ones.

When we moved down here to Mayville, Wis. The ladies made it in a 9×12 cake pan heated the oven to 400 and turned it off and put the scham t orte in until oven was cold. It gets crusty on top and more like egg whites in the middle. And up north we served ours with just whip cream here they serve it with berries and cream I love it both ways.

36 Joy Clausen February 11, 2011 at 2:44 pm

WOW ! just the article and recipe I was looking for. My German Grandmother made these every Christmas. I too was born and raised in the Milwaukee area, but I never new it was just a “Wisconsin” thing, I thought “ALL GERMANS” new about Shaum Tortes. I am going to celebrate the memory of my grandma by making these Shaum tortes filled with strawberries on Valentine’s day. Thanks for the tips on the clean bowl and absolutely no yellows. I know these will be eaten fast, but just in case they don’t , how do you store them?

37 Patty December 30, 2010 at 3:01 pm

My mom used to make these individual schaum tortes and I needed a picture to show my son what they looked like. I make ‘meringue’ Christmas cookies every year – just a smaller version of the real Wisconsin thing! 🙂

38 Tom December 23, 2010 at 9:23 am

I’d promised the family “Granny’s schaum torte” for Xmas, but could not find the recipe!

39 Worth The Whisk December 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Stephenie, that is pretty funny that the Great State of Texas has a fine German population. Glad these worked for you.

40 Stephenie December 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Thank you for posting this! It turned out perfectly. My mom always made this on one big pan..I never knew they could be done individually, but of course it made perfect sense when I saw them! 🙂 She would make an entire pan, spoon the strawberry jam from my grossmutti and top with homemade whipped cream – then take it to the church pot luck or whatever was going on. Mom from Appleton, dad from Kaukauna, but we’ve been in Florida for the last 40 years. Just moved to San Antonio, Texas, where I’m pleased to report there is a booming German heritage!

41 Worth The Whisk November 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Laura, go Wisconsin! My sister is visiting there right now, promising to bring home Summer Sausage. Nobody here knows what that is, or probably wouldn’t eat it either.

42 Laura Mau November 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I’m from Milwaukee and my grandmother used to make us schaum tortes all the time- we put strawberries and whipped cream on top. I googled schaum tortes (can’t believe I knew how to spell it) because I wanted to make some with my son for a school project on his German heritage. I had no idea they were a Wisconsin delicacy as well! Thanks for sharing your recipe- I never could pry it out of my grandma. We’re going to make some this weekend and I can’t wait!

43 Worth The Whisk July 24, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Christy, ah those Wisconsonites. They keep the really good stuff a secret!

44 christy July 24, 2010 at 6:33 pm

my husband is from wisconsin and he couldn’t believe that i had never heard of them…then i visited his home town and had one with ice cream and strawberry sauce—and then i realized it was just a version of pavlova. i made them last night with pastry cream, mocha sauce, poached pears, toasted walnuts and whipped cream for a night at the hollywood bowl. delish!

45 Worth The Whisk May 6, 2010 at 8:01 am

Sheila – mine dry out just fine letting them stay in the hot oven with the temperture turned off, one hour.

46 Sheila Hanson May 6, 2010 at 7:46 am

My grand Aunt Ceil make Schaum big tortes that were cakes. I’ve made them too. However, it is really difficult to make a truly good one without a pilot light on the oven. We always left them overnight in the oven to allow them to dry out. The pilot light did the job. With these ‘modern’ ovens, how do you dry them out enough not to be sticky?

47 Anne Spackman May 5, 2010 at 11:14 am

My mouth is watering and my mind is full of happy memories. The Schaum Tortes migrated south to Illinois as meringues. One word of caution: if you make these on a very humid day the consistency can turn to that of chewing gum. But they’re still tasty!

48 lo February 15, 2010 at 11:58 am

FYI — As a Wisconsinite myself, I can verify that some of us make “one big Schaum torte,” so it’s more like a Pavlova. My grandmother made Schaum torte every year for Easter, and we covered ate big scoops of it covered with fresh strawberries.

These days, I keep up the tradition. I even do a chocolate version with raspberry topping on special occasions.

49 jackie August 17, 2009 at 8:43 pm

l love the picture of your mom…she looks carefree, young and happy…the world is her oyster…beautiful!!!!

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