Wisconsin Schaum Tortes

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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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barbara Holland February 13, 2019 at 11:31 am

It was my favorite dessert at Maker’s restaurant in Milwaukee when I was a child.

2 Rhonda September 15, 2017 at 12:43 pm

My college roommate was from Wisconsin. A girl on our floor had the last name of Schaum, and my roommate nicknamed her “Schaum Torte.” I had never heard of this delicacy. When my roommate and her parents stopped to see my family and I on their travels through Iowa, I made Schaum torte for dessert, ha ha! It was delicious.

3 Aj August 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm

My Mom really likes these, but since moving to Arizona (originally from Kenosha) hadn’t had them in years… But since finding this AMAZING recipe I make them for her any chance I get!! This is my go to recipe for a good Schaum Torte!!!

4 Jim August 12, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Did not know it was specific to Wisconsin but I am 3rd generation LaCrosse now populating the East Coast. Spreading the good news on Schaum tortes. WE had ice cream and strawberries growing up. Best are crisp and melt in your mouth. The cream of tartar I remembered but did not have in a recipe I found elsewhere.

5 Rosie July 24, 2017 at 1:08 am

I am 71, born and raised in Wisconsin and my grandmother, Vesta, was a great baker. Her schaum tortes were the big ones all crispy outside and gooey inside, covered with fresh strawberries and whipped cream—my best schaum torte memories
But my birthday cake when I was a little older was a three layered Himmels torte. Wondering if that also is a Wisconisn specialty and if anyone is familiar with that and has recipes for it.

6 M.L. Schneider July 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm

I am 72 years old and from Illinois but my mother and her family came from Wisconsin. I remember that we used to go to a restaurant in Madison and have strawberry schaumtorte. My grandmother used to make the individual ones for special luncheons when relatives came to Illinois to visit.

7 Marty Kehrein July 14, 2017 at 8:01 am

I grew up in Wisconsin and my mother, the daughter of German immigrants made these during strawberry season. I have made these for our family and grand kids.

They are easy to make and an interesting dessert to serve to friends from other parts of the country.

8 Grace Lindner June 26, 2017 at 6:55 pm

My mom made the individual Schaum Tortes and served them with a fresh peach compote and whipped cream. They were spectacular.

9 June June 9, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Patti, yes, my Aunt in Milwaukee, Wisconsin always made one large schaum torte.
I never knew there were individual schaum tortes. I loved it!

10 Therese May 26, 2017 at 5:50 pm

This is exactly my mother’s recipe. My mother made them for my birthday and I make them for my grand kids. Try them if you haven’t but user raspberries for the topping. ice cream detracts from the crunchiness

11 Judy April 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Thank you for this. My memories of this dessert is from my grandmother. She lived in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. When she would visit us in California, she always made these for us. Now I will be making these for my grandchildren. Thanks again.

12 Judy Giessel December 21, 2016 at 3:08 pm

My Mom a native Nebraskan made these often. This year they are going to my daughters for Christmas day dessert. I will take topooopings to please both adults and choco addicts too.

13 Linda Pope October 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

I am 71. I have fond memories of this dessert but never knew the name. I lost my mom when I was 13. Never knew what it was called. My friend, Wendy, invited me for a luncheon at the Union Hotel in De Pere, WI.

I teared up when they delivered the dessert and knew it was my mom’s dessert from 60 years ago. I learned the Schaum Torte name. When I googled today for a recipe and web site. Thanks for refreshing my memories once again.

By the way your photo reminds me of my mom in the summer of 1959 just before her passing. Memories are so important to have, keep and hold in your heart. Sharing them is important as well!

14 Worth The Whisk September 13, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Yes, grease the pie pan.

15 judie September 13, 2016 at 5:11 pm

parchment paper is ok for individual “tortes” but what about a meringue shell that is baked and left in the pie plate and filled? do I grease the pie plate or not??

16 Worth The Whisk September 12, 2016 at 4:47 pm

I’m a little on the paper bag use with baking, since so many are now made with recycled materials and not guaranteed to be germ-free. However, parchment paper is a good idea.

17 Judy September 12, 2016 at 1:32 pm

My mom always used a paper bag to line the cookie sheet. Indo the same thing. Never any sticking. The Schaum tortes come right off. I guess it’s like parchment paper only free!

18 Worth The Whisk September 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

Greased and floured pan, JJ.

19 jj September 11, 2016 at 12:21 pm

do you grease the pan before baking the egg whites?

20 Judy August 23, 2016 at 3:16 pm

I have never frozen them either. I store them in an airtight metal tin. I make them up to a week before serving. They keep fine that way. I always make them on a sunny day. I think the humidity on cloudy days makes them chewy..the way my husband prefers them, but I think they’re best crispy and melt in your mouth.

21 Worth The Whisk August 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm

June, sorry to report I have never frozen them. But I would imagine it would be a bad idea, as they would most likely turn to mush. Eat them fresh and often.

22 Worth The Whisk August 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Chris, in my experience, Schaum Tortes are to be eaten right then and there, no storing any.

23 Susan R August 21, 2016 at 12:44 pm

My mom was also from Wisconsin, and she generally made schaum torte for my birthday in July. It does bring back wonderful memories. Interestingly, every schaum torte I’ve ever seen was made in a springform pan, so we never had the individual serving style that you grew up with. And when I was introduced to the Pavlova it was in the individual meringues.
Just recently, my book club hostess served a similar dish, but with peaches instead of strawberries, and made in a pie dish. She was given the recipe by a friend who grew up with that version in Nebraska.

24 Joe Meyers August 19, 2016 at 3:41 pm

I lived in Wisconsin my first 18 years–born in Milwaukee and educated in a tiny village near Manitowoc. Schaum torte was the birthday cake for everyone in the family, year after year. It’s still a tradition in my own household decades later.

We made it out of the Settlement Cookbook, a classic collection of recipes first published in 1901. My Mom cooked out of it constantly. I am on my third copy. (Wore out and splattered the first two.) It is still my go-to cookbook, alongside the older version of the Joy of Cooking.

We would serve slices of the crisp-yet-gooey torte with fresh or frozen strawberries and whipped cream. Calorie-rich and decadent. Once a year per person–who cares!

25 Chris Yehle August 18, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Should I refrigerate the soft egg white once it is baked. The hard egg white tops I just put in plastic bags and keep in pantry.

26 June August 14, 2016 at 8:47 am

Can you tell me if these freeze well? Thanks. June

27 Cindy Karstaedt August 6, 2016 at 10:49 am

Yum Good!

28 Susan July 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm

So glad I found your site. We have fond memories of good friends and great meals ending with fabulous strawberry schaum torte in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Have lived all over the country since and haven’t seen it anywhere else. I plan to make this dessert for our next family get together. Thanks for the memories!

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