Wow- what a fun bakers challenge this month! Baumkuchen (which translated to tree cake) is a cake that is traditionally cooked on a spit, with a thin layer of batter spread on, then cooked, then another thin layer of batter, cooked, and so on, until many layers (as many as 30) are built up. It is then taken off the spit and stood upright. When cut into the slices look like the many rings of a tree. This cake is also extremely popular is Asia during weddings since it looks like a ring. During the 18th & 19th centuries these cakes were very popular in Europe, sometimes with 300 (!) eggs being used for a big occasion.
Since not many people own a spit, for this months Bakers Challenge, Francijn , from “Koken in de Brouwerij gave us simpler version to try, which is Schichttorte (layered cake, Schicht means layer). This is a simple version of Baumkuchen, with horizontal layers. The layers in Schichttorte are not dipped, but smeared, and the cake is not baked on a spit, but in a baking mould (tin) (pan) producing a flat multi-layered cake. It is Schichttorte that we will be baking for this month’s challenge.
I have two old pastry books that have information about Baumkuchen but I never thought I would be giving it a go, even in a modified version. My first version was made using Francijn’s recipe. It was moist and delicious, thanks to almond paste and 6 eggs. This cake definitely improves with age. The big problem with this cake? I didn’t brown it enough on top to get the distinct layered look.
And this is 10 layers of batter!. I was so afraid of burning it and drying it out that I lost the effect. I also had the oven rack in the middle of the oven when it should have been on the top, closer to the top burner. Not all was lost though, since it was really tasty. Next time I will try it with the oven on broil and see what happens.
For my next version, I decided to use a recipe from my own pastry book, Traditional Cakes and Pastries by Barbara Maher. This book is out of print, unfortunately. I used a 6 inch square pan for this one, so I halved the recipe (less temptation). A few tablespoons of cocoa powder went into half of that batter and orange zest (& a drop of color) into the other half.
Each layer takes about 4 minutes to cook so this is not a cake to make when you are busy doing other things. It’s also very easy – it just takes time. Bake On!
Prepare a 10-inch (25 cm) spring form pan or a 8×10-inch (20×25 cm) cake pan
Makes 12 pieces
6 large eggs (room temperature)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) (4-1/4 oz) (120 gm) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (5-1/3 oz) (150 gm) marzipan
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (1-3/4 sticks) (7 oz) (200 gm) softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup (180 ml) (3-1/2 oz) (100 gm) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1 package) (8 grams) vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (3-1/2 oz) (100 gm) all-purpose flour (sifted)
1/3 cup (80 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) apricot jam
2 tablespoons (30 ml) orange liqueur (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) dark chocolate couverture chunks
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure coconut oil
oil to grease your pan parchment paper 10-inch (25 cm) spring form pan / 8×10 inch (20×25 cm) cake tin
Directions: Preheat your oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8. Line your cake tin with parchment paper, grease both paper and pan.
Separate the eggs.
Beat the egg whites with the salt until nearly stiff, add the sugar and beat until really stiff. Finely crumble the marzipan and beat it with the softened butter, confectioner’s (icing) sugar and vanilla sugar until soft and creamy. Add the egg yolks one by one and beat well between each addition. Add the stiff egg whites and flour and gently fold it into the batter, trying not to lose too much air.
Smear 1/12th to 1/10th of the batter (about 2 tablespoons) on the bottom of the pan, keep the sides of the pan clean, and bake for (about) 4 minutes in the oven, until it is cooked and brown. Take the pan out of the oven, smear the next portion of batter carefully over the first, and bake for another 4 minutes or until cooked and brown. Repeat until all batter is used. If you need to flatten a bubble insert a tooth pick or similar to deflate the bubble.
Let the cake cool down for a few minutes, take it out of the pan, remove the parchment paper and let the cake cool completely on a wired rack. Trim the edges. Heat the jam a little, pass it through a sieve, and add the orange liqueur (optional). Cover the cake with the jam and let it cool.
Melt the chocolate with the coconut oil in a bowl above warm water. Pour it over the cake to cover completely, move the cake to a cool place and wait until the glaze is dry
for a 6 inch square pan
125 g/4.5 oz butter, softened
125 g/4.5 oz granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tbsp. rum
25 g/1 oz ground almonds
65 g/2 1/4 oz AP flour, sifted
65 g/ 2 1/4 oz potato flour, sifted
2 Tablespoons cocoa and zest of 1 orange. One drop orange coloring, if desired.
follow the same mixing method as above except before adding the stiff egg whites, split the batter in half. I used a scale to make this very easy but by eye is fine too. Add the cocoa powder to one half, then the zest and coloring to the other half. Now fold half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and the other half of the egg whites into the orange mixture. Layer the batter and cook as above.