Baumkuchen – German “tree cake”

Baumkuchen

So you know how sometimes you have this vision of how you want to present your recipe on your blog and you think …oh next weekend I will have sufficient time to bake the cake, take really cool pictures and post them. Then the weekend comes around and chores that just piled up during the week take over and you never get around to making your dish, or you make it and had no time to take photos or it didn’t turn out or all of the above.

Well I had this vision of a couple dishes that I wanted to present 1000% perfect on this blog because they are so ultra German they need to stand out. Baumkuchen is one of them. I had made it last year exactly at this time (Tulips and Iris flowers in pictures background, exactly what is currently blooming in my yard) and I never got to post it because I thought the photos didn’t come out perfect (I don’t like how chunky the glaze looks, when I poured the glaze over the cake I moved the glaze back and forth with a big broad knife which mixed the cake crumbles with the chocolate glaze and didn’t make the glaze look super smooth – the way how it should look). So I thought oh well I will make this again and then I’ll post it. Time goes by and a year later I still haven’t made another batch of Baumkuchen. So today I am thinking – whatever – this cake is so delicious it has to be posted, pretty pictures or not, it tastes great no matter if the chocolate glaze is smooth or mixed in with cake crumbles.

As always with my German dishes, a little bit of background information. So Baum in German means tree and Kuchen means cake – hence the translation into “Treecake”. The inside of the cake looks like a tree stump resembling the yearly growth rings.

According to my friends from Wikipedia…Baumkuchen is a labor-intensive specialty made on a spit by brushing on even and thin layers of batter and then rotating the spit around a heat source, traditionally a wood fire. Each layer is allowed to brown before a new layer of batter is poured.[6] When the cake is removed and sliced, each layer is divided from the next by a golden line, resembling the growth rings on a crosscut tree. A typical Baumkuchen is made up of 15 to 20 layers of batter.[5] However, the layering process for making Baumkuchen can continue until the cakes are quite large. Skilled pastry chefs have been known to create cakes with 25 layers and weighing over 100 pounds.[6] When cooked on a spit, it is not uncommon for a finished Baumkuchen to be 3 to 4 feet tall.

Since this technique doesn’t work for us “home bakers” we will bake our layers in a round spring form. I usually make this cake when I am bored (well I am never bored, lets say when I have some time to spare) with a bottle of champagne at hand and alter between drinking champagne and pouring/broiling batter every minute or two for 40 minutes. Its not a difficult cake to make and it doesn’t really take all that long, its just that you continuously open and close the oven door, pour and swirl batter. The result is a really unique cake. American cakes are creamy and sweet, this is a very light soft ladyfinger like cake. For those who like it a little bit sweeter and more moist you can brush orange or apricot jam onto the 10th layer and then continue baking.

Baumkuchen collage

Baumkuchen:

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz butter
  • 12 oz sugar
  • 4 tablespoon dark rum
  • 6 eggs
  • 7 oz flour
  • 5 oz corn starch
  • 8 tablespoons milk

Chocolate Glaze

  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoon oil

 

Directions

  1. Grease a round spring form and cover the bottom with parchment paper. Preaheat broiler. Mix the flour and the cornstarch.
  2. Cream the butter and add the sugar in a slow constant stream. Once the sugar is incorporated add the rum and the eggs. Now add the flour/cornstarch mixture. At the very end add the milk
  3. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the buttered form and evenly distribute it by swirling the form around in circles. You want a very thin and even layer of batter.
  4. Set the form under the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Watch the batter closely, you don’t want it to burn. The color should be nice and golden.
  5. Pour another 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto the baked batter and set again under the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Repeat this process until the entire batter is used up. You should have approximately 20 layers by the time you are done.
  6. Once you’ve baked the last layer, undo the spring form and set the cake on a rack to cool out.
  7. Melt the chocolate and add the oil. Pour the chocolate over the cake and distribute quick and evenly with a cake knife with as little motions as possible (no back and forth just one swoop down per area). Don’t move the knife back and forth like I did, try to pour the chocolate in a way that it runs down on the side evenly, swirl it a little bit around and if you have to distribute the melted chocolate with a wide blade cake knife with as little motions as possible so that the chocolate will not mix with the crumbs on top of the cake.

Note: For Christmas we make Baumkuchen and bake it in a square or rectangular form and then cut the ready cake into small bit size rectangles and dip the entire rectangles into chocolate. Then its not a “cake” but small individual bit size cake bites that we wrap up in little gift bags and hand out as homemade Christmas confections.

 Guten Appetit!
Baumkuchen 1

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