Good friend Steven, over on Made By You And I – that’s his handsome mug there – decided to toss out a challenge to me a while back to do a recipe for Baumkuchen. Baum is German for tree (“O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum…”) and Kuchen is cake. Tree Cake. He had seen this post over on The Daring Kitchen, a site where a selected member picks a recipe once a month and the DK members all give it a shot then post the results. There are two sides: a cooking (i.e. chicken, veggies, etc.) and a baking side (cakes, breads, etc.). I checked the Daring Kitchen challenge out and decided to go for it. And that’s how I came to give this interesting cake a try.
The full recipe is published at the DK site and you can nab a PDF of it if you wish (link a bit further down). Although much more detail is given on that site and on Wikipedia, here are the basics:
A Baumkuchen is basically cake baked in very, very thin layers, built up until you get a cake that, when sliced, looks like the rings of a tree, ergo its name.
Traditionally and in a commercial bakery, it is made by baking a white or almond-flavoured batter as it is poured onto a rotating large pole set in front of a special broiler. As each layer is poured on top of the previous one, a slight browning occurs and these result in the distinctive “rings” seen in the finished cake. The undulations you see in the 2nd and 3rd photo above are made by simply pressing the still uncooked batter while adding the very last few layers bake. This gives the cake a distinct look and allows it to be cut into clear portions, if desired: some Baumkuchen are simply left flat, as shown in the first photo. It is usually finished with chocolate coating although some types are covered in other flavours. Continue reading