Vegan German Onion Cake (Zwiebelkuchen)

   reading time: 4 min

Onion cake, or Zwiebelkuchen, is a German savoury "cake" or tart that is similar to pizza and quiche, and traditionally made with loads of onions, diced bacon, cream, and caraway seeds on a yeast dough. For my vegan version, I am using smoked tofu, soy creamer, and vegan sour cream.

It's hearty, it's moist, and it's super good! It's one of my favourite dishes in autumn and winter, but you definitely need to like onions for this one :) Also, I recommend not skipping on the cumin, as this is what will help you digest the "windy" onions and leek.

TIP: The dough can also be made a day in advance and can be kept in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe. That way you don't have to spend as much time in the kitchen the next day when preparing the filling and baking the onion cake for lunch or dinner.


Preparation time: 2 hours
Main ingredients: onions, flour, soy creamer, smoked tofu, yeast
difficulty level: easy
serves: 8 (26 cm- or 10-inch springform pan)
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, wheat-free, nut-free


300 g spelt flour (type 1050) *

1/2 tsp salt
80 g vegan margarine or vegetable oil
1/2 cube (20 g) fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar
125 ml lukewarm water

2 tbsp vegan butter, vegetable oil or vegan lard (I use German Apfel-Zwiebel-Schmalz)
800 g white onions, chopped
1 leek, chopped
125 g smoked tofu, diced
200 ml soy creamer
150 g vegan sour cream or creme fraiche (I use the German brand Creme Vega by Oetker)
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp cumin or caraway
1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste (a bit of smoked salt works great too)
black pepper, to taste

pinch of nutmeg
(optional) pinch of kala namak black salt (for that eggy taste)

* If you are confused about that flour type, check out this website which explains the difference between German flour types and US-American flour types.  


Lightly grease and flour a 26 cm- or 10-inch springform pan or baking tray.

For the crust:

Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl and let the yeast do her magic.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Mix to combine. Add vegan margarine or vegetable oil, and knead using
your clean hands or an electric mixer with a dough hook until a smooth, soft dough forms. The more you knead, the better the dough will be.

Form the dough into a ball and cover with a damp kitchen towel or a plate. Let rest in a warm spot for 1 hour.

If you are preparing the dough a day in advance, store the dough overnight in the fridge instead, then continue with the recipe the next day, giving the dough a chance to come to room temperature while you prepare the filling.

While the dough is proofing, prepare the filling.

For the filling:

To a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of
vegan butter, vegetable oil or vegan lard over medium heat. Add the diced smoked tofu, and cook until it is nice and crispy. Set aside.

In the same pan with the grease left from the tofu, add 1 tbsp of
vegan butter, vegetable oil or vegan lard, as well as cumin or caraway. Over medium heat, gently fry the seeds until they start to pop and release their aromatic fragrance, about 1 minute.

Then add the onions and leek. Turn down the heat to medium-low, place a lid over the pan, and sautée until soft and translucent. Remove from heat, and add the fried smoked tofu.

In a separate bowl, whisk together soy creamer, vegan sour cream, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and black pepper. Fold the mixture into the onion/leek/tofu mixture. Everything should be nicely combined.

Preheat oven to 180 °C / 350 °F.

Transfer the risen dough into the greased and floured pan, and roll it out. Make sure that the edges are raised to form a rim that will be able to hold the filling (about 5 cm / 2 inches high).

Pour the filling onto the dough and smooth it down with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Bake the onion cake for 35–40 minutes in the preheated oven. Cover after 30 minutes if necessary so that the onions don't burn.

Serve right away, or enjoy cold.

- If you are looking for a drink to pair this with, o
nion cake is traditionally accompanied by new wine such as Federweißer, or a dry white wine such as a Riesling. 
- This onion cake is also great to take with you on the go.
- If you are a bit lazy like me, you can skip frying the smoked tofu and just add it to the cooked onion/leek mixture as is.
- Feel free to replace the yeast in this recipe with 20 g of sourdough starter. Make sure to prolong the rising time to about 2-4 hours, if possible, or allow the dough to proof overnight.
- If you are short on time, you can also use store-bought pizza dough – it won't taste as good as homemade yeast dough, but it's a quick and easy alternative.

Looking for some more sweet and savoury German recipes? Here are some I could eat every day:
 Rustic German Apple Cake (vegan)
Vegan Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce and Potatoes