Monday, January 27, 2014

Daring Bakers! - Baumkuchen

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). 

Oh hello again, polar vortex. On Saturday I was driving back from the city and the snow and winds were so bad I had to drive 40 mph on the highway the whole way home! Glad I made it home safe though. I'll just listen to Let It Go over and over again and pretend the cold never bothered me anyway. 

Egg white hurricane!!!

So the challenge this month was a baumkuchen, or, tree cake. Though European in origin, it's quite popular in Japan (I've seen little prepackaged ones at the Asian grocery store). It's called a tree cake because traditionally, it's made on a spit, even layers of batter brushed on top of the last. It ends up looking like the rings of a tree. A professional can actually made a cake the size of a tree using this method–four feet tall and weighing 100 pounds! Insane. 


So though I had been wanting to make one of these for a while, I put it off, because...I was kind of terrified. The ingredients for this cake are expensive and I didn't want to waste them if I messed up! I also didn't want to burn my dorm down, or, on a less dramatic note, set off the smoke alarms and force everyone to leave the dorm. Eternal shame! Thankfully, none of those things happened and the cake turned out marvelously. Someone even said it looked like a tree! I used a recipe from Sasha at Global Table Adventure, because her tutorial is really clear and I think she's super cool. 

from Global Table Adventure 

1 1/2 cups almond paste, tightly packed (12 oz)
6 Tbsp half & half
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp), softened
1 cup sugar
10 eggs, separated (put the whites in a bowl big enough to whip them up to stiff peaks)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup cornstarch

10 0z jar apricot jam
1 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped (I didn't use any, but you could!)

For the chocolate glaze:
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp rum, preferably dark (I didn't have any :c )
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a clean, preferably not plastic bowl, beat the egg whites until they make stiff peaks, but aren’t dry. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste with half and half, one tablespoon at a time. It will resemble mashed potatoes when you’re done. I used my hand mixer and this horrible salad bowl, which was a mistake, but it worked. Next, beat in softened butter until fluffy, scraping the bowl to make sure its all mixed in.
Next, beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides. Add the egg yolks one at a time, then the vanilla. 
Next, sift in the flour and cornstarch in thirds. Beat until well incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed.
Fold the egg whites into the batter until it looks and tastes like an almond paste cloud. D'aw. 

Turn on the broiler and let it warm up for a few minutes. Meanwhile, grease and line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper. Grease it goooood. You don't want the parchment to curl. Set aside half the apricot jam.
Next, spread 1/4 cup of batter in the bottom of the pan. It might not seem like enough. Put in more if you think you need it, but you only want a thin layer that will cover the bottom of the pan, but that's it. 
Broil this layer until deep golden brown. Don't leave it unchecked for more than 30 seconds. You're gonna be opening and closing the oven a lot. 
Then, add another 1/4 cup batter. Spread it out with a brush and broil, as before.After repeating this step a few times, spread a layer with a bit of apricot jam. Continue making a few layers of cake to every layer of jam, until you've used the 5 ounces.
Be sure to push the batter evenly around so the cake remains flat. Doming cakes are forbidden. You can correct as you go.
Refrigerate overnight.

Spread the top and sides of cake with the remaining half of apricot jam. Set in refrigerator while making chocolate glaze. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add corn syrup, vanilla extract and rum. Dark rum is better but I didn’t have any. Simmer a few minutes to let the ingredients mingle. Remove from heat and toss in the chocolate chips. Cover five minutes, or until the chocolate is completely softened. Stir the glaze until glossy and pour evenly over top and sides of cake. Press crushed almonds over the sides and outer edge of cake. Refrigerate to set the glaze.
Hooray, you did it! 


  1. Your cake looks beautiful! Your dorm has an oven!? That's awesome.

    1. My dorm has three ovens! I would die without them.

  2. I am not sure if I want to make this because it is beyond delicious looking or because I want to say that I, too, made a Baumkuchen!!!

  3. i'd never heard of this before, but it looks fabulous! I can't imagine a 100 pound cake though. Crazy!

    Nicole @

  4. Your baumkuchen looks perfect. Yes it looks intimidating at first but when you actually start making it you realise that it is very doable.


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