Baumkuchen (German Tree Cake)

The January 2014 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Francijn of "Koken in de Brouwerij". She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).

I had seen pictures of Baumkuchen on the web and my impression was that of a very complex cake too difficult to attempt. Then I found the group Daring Bakers. I liked the concept and decided to join in. January was my first month and Baumkuchen my first challenge with the Daring Bakers. If it had not been for this group I would never have attempted to bake this cake.

Baum Kuchen is German for Tree cake. Just like growth rings on a tree the cake has rings. The authentic Baumkuchen is made on an open spit on a log and truly resembles the tree rings. The version I baked is broiled in layers that can be clearly seen when the cake is sliced.

The batter was easy to prepare. It was the baking process that was very time consuming. I got about 10 layers excluding two layers of apricot jam. Each layers had to be broiled for about a minute and a half. A few seconds over and you risked burning the layer which would ruin the entire cake. But for all the effort the end result was awesome. I was thrilled when I cut into the cake and saw the layers.

Usually the Daring Bakers provide the recipe which the challengers are to follow. However, this month we were supposed to bake a layered cake. It was not mandatory to use the provided recipe. Hence I adapted the recipe from Global Adventures.

You will need
For the batter
6 oz. almond paste (I got it at Whole Foods)
3 tbsp. half and half
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 sugar
5 eggs
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup cake flour (I used King Arthur unbleached cake flour)
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp. cornstarch

5 oz. apricot preserve

To prepare the batter
Bring all the ingredients to room temperature. Break up the almond paste into pieces and add the half and half to it. Beat it until combined and creamy. Add the butter and beat some more. Add the sugar and beat until frothy. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Keep the egg whites aside. Beat in one egg yolk at a time into the almond mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and corn starch a little at a time.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them into the almond flour batter. Now you are all ready to prepare the cake.

The layering process
Use an 8" springform pan lined on the bottom with parchment paper. Put butter on the pan, place the parchment paper on it and then put some butter on the paper. Once the batter and the pan is ready, set the oven boiler on Low.

Use a 1/4 cup measure to place batter on the parchment paper in the pan. Spread it around evenly with a round pastry brush. Place the pan on the top rack under the broiler. Set the timer for a minute but watch it like a hawk. When the top turns brown take it out of the oven. If needed add another minute under the broiler. I was very surprised to see it done in just over a minute.

Add another layer of batter and spread it around evenly. You have to ensure you are building a level flat cake. Put the pan back in then oven. It took the batter a little over a minute to brown in my oven. You will figure out the time it takes in your oven in a few layers. Continue building the cake one layer at a time until a third of the batter is gone. Put in a layer of apricot jam and broil for about 30 seconds. Add another layer of batter. Continue building the cake adding a layer of apricot jam after every few layers until all the batter is gone. I got two apricot jam layers in this cake.

Take it out of the pan and place on a cooling rack or a parchment sheet. When cool remove the parchment paper and using plastic wrap cover the cake completely. Place a large inverted mixing bowl over it and leave on the counter top overnight.

Cover it with chocolate glaze. I used my own recipe for the chocolate glaze that you will find here. Pour it over the cake and let it dribble over the sides.



  1. Your cake looks wonderful and the layers are lovely!

  2. Welcome to the DB's! great job on your first challenge- ot looks fantastic


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