Potthucke: A Savory German Potato Cake

Potthucke is a traditional recipe from the Sauerland region of Westphalia, a part of northwestern Germany where I live.

Vertical image of slices of Potthucke on a dark slate cutting board, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

This savory cake was originally considered poor man’s fare – it’s a simple potato-based dish made with just a few basic, inexpensive ingredients.

Potthucke has become a popular dish in local specialty restaurants and at festivals, as well as one that appears often on dinner tables at home, with different variations, presentations, and family traditions contributing unique twists.

Vertical image of a whole savory loaf on a dark slate board next to thyme leaves and white napkins.

I remember when my town held a Potthucke festival back in 1997! Everyone was invited to stop by and have a slice of this local specialty.

The name of this celebrated recipe is inspired by its baking method. The German “Potthucke” translates to “sitting in a pot” in English, and earlier methods commonly used for preparing Potthucke involved slowly baking the batter in a pot for several hours over low heat in a wood-burning oven.

Vertical image of slices of a savory cake with pieces of thick-cut bacon on a dark slate board next to thyme leaves.

You won’t need to wait as long to enjoy a slice now with an electric or gas stove, though you’ll still need to dedicate about an hour to baking.

The filling is a savory combination of mashed and shredded russet potatoes combined with chopped crispy bacon, lightly sauteed onions, eggs, and cream.

Vertical top-down image of two brown plates topped with seared Potthucke slices and fried eggs.

After it’s baked to form a solid loaf, Potthucke can be cut into slices and served as is. You can also lightly pan sear the slices in butter for a crispier crust.

Vertical image of fried eggs on top of pan-seared slices of Potthucke on brown plates.

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion or for the festival to come to town to give his easy German recipe a try – make it now to serve as part of a hearty dinner.

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Horizontal image of a whole savory loaf on a dark slate board next to thyme leaves and white napkins.

German Potthucke


  • Author: Nina-Kristin Isensee
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf (8-10 slices) 1x

Description

Made with mashed and shredded potatoes, bacon, onions, cream, and eggs, German Potthucke is a savory baked loaf you can serve as a starchy side.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 34 medium russet potatoes, peeled and placed in cold water (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 medium white onions, diced small (about 1 pound)
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped (about 4 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (about 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan, and grease the paper.
  2. Add half of the potatoes to the pot and boil until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain in a colander and let cool slightly before mashing them with a potato masher or a potato ricer in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  4. Cook the onions in the same skillet with the rendered bacon fat until soft and translucent, for 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside in the pan to cool slightly.
  5. Coarsely grate the remaining potatoes. Place the grated potatoes in a towel and squeeze tightly to remove any excess water.
  6. Immediately add the grated potatoes, onions, bacon, cream, eggs, salt, pepper, thyme, and nutmeg to the large bowl with the mashed potatoes. Using a sturdy spoon, stir until the ingredients are mixed well and a thick batter forms.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until fluffy and golden brown on top. The center should be solid and the cake will not jiggle when you gently shake the pan.
  8. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. Let cool for about 30 minutes to finish setting before removing from the pan and cutting into thick slices for frying or serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Category: Potatoes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: German

Keywords: potato, bacon, potthucke, german, onion

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Horizontal image of assorted peeled and prepped vegetables and ingredients in bowls.

Fill a medium pot with water and liberally season it with salt for boiling the potatoes. It just needs to be big enough to cover the potatoes with about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop as you continue your prep.

Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan. The excess paper hanging over the edge will help you lift the baked loaf from the pan, and this will also help with easy cleanup.

Peel the potatoes with a vegetable peeler and place them in a bowl full of very cold water – this will keep them from browning.

Peel and dice the white onions using a sharp chef’s knife and sturdy cutting board. There are no tears here! Read up on how you can minimize onion-cutting misery in our guide.

Chop 4 slices of bacon into small pieces.

Crack 4 eggs into a small bowl. Lightly beat them with a whisk.

Measure out the cream, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Separate the leaves from the thyme sprigs, and grate the nutmeg using a microplane. In a pinch, you can use pre-ground nutmeg.

Step 2 – Boil and Mash Half of the Potatoes

Carefully place half of the potatoes in the boiling water. If you have 3 potatoes, this would be 1 1/2 potatoes. You can also slice the potatoes into large pieces to speed the cooking process.

Horizontal image of peeled vegetables boiling in water in a pot.

Boil them until they are very soft and tender when pierced with a fork or knife. This will take about 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain in a colander and allow them to cool slightly in a large mixing bowl. You’ll use this bowl to mix all of the ingredients together to make the batter.

Horizontal image of mashed potatoes in a large white bowl.

Mash with a potato masher or use a potato ricer to create a smooth mixture without any large lumps.

Step 3 – Cook the Bacon

While the potatoes are boiling, continue preparing the other ingredients that require cooking.

Horizontal image of cooking chopped bacon in a skillet.

Place the chopped bacon in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon, moving the pieces around as needed to prevent burning, until they are evenly cooked and crispy. This will take about 5 minutes.

Keep your eye on the pan – small pieces of bacon cook faster than whole slices.

Horizontal image of draining chopped cooked crispy bacon pieces on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb some of the fat.

Leave the heat on medium and keep the pan on the stove – you’ll be using the rendered bacon fat to cook the onions in the next step.

Step 4 – Cook the Onions

Immediately add the chopped onions to the pan and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly. They should be slightly softened and translucent with some pieces just beginning to take on a little brown color.

Horizontal image of browning chopped onions in a skillet.

Set aside in the pan to cool slightly.

Step 5 – Grate the Remaining Potatoes

Grate the remaining potatoes, using the largest holes on your box grater or the coarse shredding attachment on your food processor.

Horizontal image of grated potatoes in a towel.

Grated potatoes will release quite a bit of water. To remove the excess, place them in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out the liquid into the sink or bowl they were soaking in.

Step 6 – Combine Ingredients

Horizontal image of assorted prepped ingredients in a large big white bowl.

Working quickly so the shredded potatoes won’t oxidize and turn brown, place the shredded potatoes, bacon, onions, cream, eggs, and all of the seasonings that you measured out in the bowl with the mashed potatoes.

Horizontal image of mixing a thick and lumpy light yellow batter in a large white bowl.

Use a sturdy spoon to mix everything together until a thick, uniform batter forms.

Step 7 – Bake

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and transfer the pan to the oven.

Horizontal image of a thick and lumpy light yellow batter in a lined pan.

Bake until the cake is fluffy and golden brown on top – it should be dry and solid, and it shouldn’t jiggle when you gently shake the pain. This will take about 50 to 60 minutes.

Horizontal image of a freshly baked golden brown loaf in a lined pan.

If the center isn’t cooked, continue baking in 5-minute increments and check again.

Step 8 – Cool and Serve

Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Because the structure of the loaf is still going to be delicate directly out of the oven, it needs to set for about 30 minutes before you remove it from the pan.

Horizontal image of a whole savory loaf on a dark slate board next to thyme leaves and white napkins.

Use the paper liner hanging over opposite sides of the pan to lift the loaf and place it on a clean cutting board.

Cut into thick slices with a chef’s knife, serve, and enjoy!

If you want to pan sear the slices, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large clean skillet until melted and slightly aromatic. Place two slices in the skillet and sear undisturbed for 2 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Carefully flip and sear the other side for another 2 minutes.

Horizontal image of slices of a savory cake with pieces of thick-cut bacon on a dark slate board next to thyme leaves.

Remove from the pan and serve immediately to enjoy the crispy crust!

Suggestions for Serving Potthucke

If you’re wondering how to incorporate Potthucke into your next dining plan, here are some quick ideas!

Horizontal image of fried eggs on top of pan-seared slices of a loaf on brown plates.

Similar to the way you might serve mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, or bread dumplings, you can choose to treat this recipe as a starchy side.

With its mild, savory flavor, it can be paired with so many homemade German foods.

A typical pairing is slices of pumpernickel bread, served with sugar beet syrup or applesauce for a sweet and savory treat.

You can serve it alongside vegetables or a side salad, as accompaniments to a simple roast chicken.

Grill or griddle your favorite variety of German sausage, and serve slices of Potthucke with assorted condiments like stone ground mustard, sour cream, and sauerkraut.

For a hearty breakfast, serve over-easy eggs atop pan-seared slices – you’ll love dipping forkfuls of Potthucke into the runny yolks.

You can also serve this as an appetizer, cut into bite-size cubes and topped with applesauce or sour cream, with a little piece of crispy bacon and a few thyme leaves for garnish.

And for the perfect drink pairing, have a cold Kölsch with it, too!

How will you enjoy this rustic homemade potato dish? Don’t forget to leave us a message in the comment section below.

The savory and smoky qualities of the bacon add just the right amount of  flavor and texture to this baked potato loaf – and it’s easy to incorporate this meaty ingredient in so many recipes. If you think everything is better with bacon, try these next:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 26, 2015. Last updated on November 20, 2022. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Nina-Kristin Isensee

Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.

40 thoughts on “Potthucke: A Savory German Potato Cake”

  1. As a huge lover of potatoes this is a great idea. It does take some preparation though, but I am sure it is worth it. As a vegetarian I would try some veggie bacon rashers and maybe use some red onions to give it more flavor. It would be a great idea to use slices instead of bread for a veggie burger.

    Reply
    • Sure, that is a good idea for a vegetarian alternative. And red onions are a great tip – also for the above recipe. And I like your idea to use them as burger buns, I haven’t thought about this, thank for this creative input 🙂

      Reply
  2. What an amazing recipe! I’ve honestly never seen the like before. I’m from the Caribbean and have had the opportunity of tasting only 2 dishes from one of my German friends. I don’t know the names, but one was German meatballs and the other potato salad, with lots of onions! They were to die for. This one looks simply delicious too! I can’t wait to try this.

    Reply
    • Thank you, and nice to hear that you liked your friend’s meatballs and potato salad. I hope you like this recipe, too, and – this time – maybe surprise them with this savory cake!

      Reply
    • The recipes not very clear<no offense,I’m sure is delicious and I want to try it but would be great if someone would correct the missing information on it. I understand almost all the recipe but I didn’t understand that part when is talking about the remaining potatoes,we supposed to grate them,,,,,,,but they are raw potatoes and after we grate them do we supposed to drain them??! Usually grated potatoes are living lots of liquid!! That part is not very well explained!! I’ll really appreciate some explication about this <thank you

      Reply
      • Thanks for your message, Elly! This recipe was originally translated from German to English and we apologize for any inconsistencies. We’re working on re-testing and updating various recipes in our collection, and we will let you know when this one has been updated.

        Reply
      • Hi????
        I read the instructions as well and in step 4 it does indicate that the remaining potatoes should be cleaned and grated. As for whether or not to drain them, yes as a general rule they are drained and you are right that it was not mentioned in the original recipe. I hope this helps a bit. Sometimes things get lost in the translation????

        Reply
  3. It kinda reminds me of meatloaf, but replacing the meat with potatoes. Since I recently was given a huge amount of potatoes, I can try out this recipe whenever I have the chance. I want to try seeing if I can use fish in this recipe since I’m trying to go on a low sodium diet and bacon is not going to go well with it. Maybe chicken and/or turkey would be a better choice price wise…

    Reply
    • Actually, that is a good comparion: potato-loaf. And really an excellent way to use up your potatoes. I haven’t tried to replace the bacon with something else, but I’m sure it works out. It would be interesting to hear what you have chosen and how it tasted. I think that smoked salmon could work with it (not sure), but I can definitely imagine that chicken will be a good addition!

      Reply
  4. Wow, this looks amazing! It really does look tasty and I can imagine eating this as a breakfast dish. I reckon leftover sausage would work just as well but the thing I especially like about cooking with bacon in this manner is that you can get away with using cheaper offcuts as rashers are not really required.

    Reply
    • Perfect idea, if you have leftovers or prepare it especially for next day’s breakfast, this is a nice and savory start into the day. Together with some fresh herbs, tomato or a fried egg maybe, delicious!

      Reply
  5. I am so excited about this recipe! I never met a potato that I didn’t like, whether it be a knish, a French Fry or a potato cake! My attempt at potato cakes has produced an anything but stellar product, but this looks foolproof! I cannot wait to try it!

    Reply
    • Then, of course, I hope you will enjoy this variety as much as you did other potato recipes. If you like potatoes, this is definitely a thing to try!

      Reply
  6. I love potatoes! (Of course, next to chocolates!) Like icecat I’m a sucker for potatoes, too! While I love mashed potatoes the most, I think this is a must-try. Primarily because it’s definitely a unique recipe (at least here in the Philippines). We do have baked potatoes, but definitely nothing like this.

    Reply
  7. A mundane bland vegetable turned into a delectable meal in just an hour has a really Germanic ring to it. How they can be utilitarian and stylish at the same time. That’s why I always like German food.

    Plus, your instructions make it so easy to cook for a novice like me.

    Good article.

    Reply
    • Thank you!
      I really like the recipe, because it prodives this special twist to common potatoes. It’s like you say 😉 Great that you like the article and the instructions. I hope you have fun in the kitchen and may enjoy a Potthucke some time!

      Reply
    • Unfortunately, I’m dairy intolerant & miss this type of food so much. And my Mom was 100% German & she and my Oma were really good cooks. I may try this with a homemade creamy almond milk I just learned to make in my Vitamix. It worked with a wonderful vegan scalloped potato recipe. Do you think this would work?

      Reply
      • I am lactose-intolerant as well, and was vegan for a time myself. This sounds like it’s worth a shot! You might find that the almond milk is a bit sweeter than cow’s milk, so you may need to make adjustments to balance the savoriness as well as the texture of the recipe. Have you tried cooking with cashew cream? It comes out beautifully in the Vitamix, and we have a variety of recipes that use it on Foodal including this delicious chocolate “cheesecake.”

        If you do give the non-dairy substitutions a try for this recipe, please let us know how it goes!

        Reply
  8. I’ve been looking for another international dish for my family to try and I think this is something everyone will enjoy. Last month I made a Middle Eastern dish called Mujadarrah- it’s a rice and lentil dish that is mixed with yogurt or sour cream and then topped off with fried or grilled onions. The dish was amazing, and three out of my five children were willingly to try it, and loved it. The looks of the dish didn’t really sit to well with my other two children, but I think this dish and recipe might be something everyone might be willing to try.

    Reply
    • I searched for the Mujadarrah dish you talked about – simply delicious! That one is for sure a thing I have to try! However, three out of five is a majority, after all 🙂 I hope the Potthucke will at least make it four out of five 😉 You’re invited to share how it worked out and how many liked this one!

      Reply
  9. I love to try out dishes from other countries and I’m particularly intrigued by old popular recipes, especially those that used to be meals for the poor. I think poor people used to make the best of what they had and it’s amazing how they used to turn common and cheap ingredients into delicious meals. This looks so tasty, I can’t wait to try it out, I think I have all the ingredients in my pantry. I was thinking I could replace the bacon with a vegetable (zucchini or onions for example) if I have my vegetarian friends over.

    Reply
    • That’s right, I think so too. Having only few ingredients made it neccessary to become creative and get the best out of the things you have. And these recipes are still delicoius today! The great advantage is – like you’ve already noticed – that only basic ingredients are used, we often have already at home.
      Adding some zucchini sounds great for a vegetarian alternative, I hope you’ll enjoy this traditional dish.

      Reply
  10. Now I really have to try this out. It looks and sounds delicious, and since I’m a huge potato fan and it does contain bacon, my husband would probably love it as well. We are both of German descent (as well as others), so this might be fun to try to give us more of an ancestral feeling to our meals. I’m not a big fan of raw potato however, though in a dish such as this, I probably wouldn’t even notice the tart flavor.

    Reply
    • Happy to hear that you want to give it a try! I’m always surprised to see how many Foodal readers have German ancestors – but it’s nice that you want to take the chance and make some country-inspired dishes like this.
      The flavor of the raw potatoes won’t be too strong in the end, it’s just that the mix of raw/cooked ones will provide a wonderful texture. Enjoy!

      Reply
  11. I’m not sure about this to be honest. I think I could enjoy it warm, but certainly not cold – the texture of the cold potatoes, eggs and bacon would really put me off.

    Reply
    • I understand that, I have to admit that I personally like it better while it’s hot, too. I also like to roast some leftovers in a pan, whether the slices are complete or broken. Together with some fried eggs and some fresh tomato aside, it makes a good and easy “leftover-lunch” 😉

      Reply
  12. I had eaten this dish a while back but could never quite get the right recipe for it. Mainly because the person who treated me potthucke didn’t know the right name of the dish and just called it “salty cake” because it wasn’t a “sweet” cake.
    Anyway, now that I have it I’ll definitely make one myself.

    Reply
    • That’s interesting to hear! So this distinct recipe must have survived the centuries elsewhere in the world, too. That’s great! Now that you know its roots and name, I wish you fun and success with this special ‘salty cake’ 🙂

      Reply
  13. It’s interesting getting some new recipes that are traditional, like this one, it came from Sauerland in Westphalia as mentioned, I reckon it’s pretty amazing cooking these in my own home!

    Reply
  14. My son is doing a United Nations Day and is preparing a German Dish. We made this tonight for his class tomorrow. I am excited to try it out for sure!

    Reply
  15. I made this dish and LOVED it! I’m considering making it again for a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at our Lutheran Church. I have to make it ahead of time and freeze it. Has anyone tried freezing it? I just wonder if it has the same texture as when served fresh.

    Reply
  16. Great recipe.
    I made it exactly as per the guide and it turned out fantastic, albeit a bit too moist. Maybe it was the potatoes I used (Australia). Anyway, the next time I made it I squeezed the excess moisture from the raw potatoes and increased the mashed potato ratio to 1.5 cups.
    This did the trick and gave me firmer loaf (which I prefer) that kept well in the fridge for at least 3 days.

    Reply
  17. It is too bad that the comments are about how good the recipe looks without having actually made it. There was only 2 !!!! that did and 1 made changes to her liking. More likely to make it if more cooks actually had and then commented.

    Reply
    • Just wondering if anyone has tried freezing this. I got a windfall of potatoes & onions that I’d like to use creatively. Trying to find something that also freezes well.
      Thanks!

      Reply

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