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). Basically, there are two types of layered cakes: the ones with individually baked layers, and the ones that are made by cooking the layers one by one on top of each other. The mainstream in this kind of layered cake is the Baumkuchen (German for tree cake). A commercial Baumkuchen is cooked layer on layer in a big spit above a large container containing the batter, with a broiler (grill) next to it. The batter is poured over the spit, and when cooked, the next layer gets poured and cooked, until there are 15, 20, or even 25 layers of cake. The little brown lines between the layers is why it is called ‘tree cake’.

Schichttorte 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 producing a flat multi-layered cake. The recipe is from the book “101 heerlijke recepten voor cake & gebak” (101 delicious recipes for cake and pastry), which is a translation of “Lieblingskuchen” (favourite pastries). For the challenge, we were allowed to any color, flavor, shape and any number of layers, as long as they remain thin and numerous. I counted mine and they were only 11 in total; maybe I should have double the recipe to achieve the daunting 25 layers of the commercial Baumkuchen!

TREE CAKE/ BAUMKUCHEN

Ingredients:

For the Batter

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

2/3 cup (160 ml) (3-1/2 oz) (100 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (sifted)

For the Glaze

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

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8. Use a 10-inch (25 cm) spring form pan or a 8×10-inch (20×25 cm) cake pan.

  • Line tin with parchment paper, grease both paper and tin. Divide eggs, beat the whites with the salt until nearly stiff. Add sugar.

  • Beat until really stiff. Crumble marzipan finely. Beat with the softened butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla sugar until creamy.

  • Add 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.

  • Smear 1/12th to 1/10th of the batter on the bottom of the pan, keep the sides clean. Bake for 4 minutes until cooked and brown.

  • Take the pan out of the oven, smear the next portion of batter carefully over the first. Bake for another 4 minutes until cooked.

  • Repeat until all batter is used. If you need to flatten a bubble insert a tooth pick to deflate the bubble. Cool for a few minutes.

  • Take the cake 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 couverture with coconut oil in a bowl above warm water. Pour over the cake to cover completely, move to a cool place.

  • Wait until the glaze is dry. Makes 12 pieces. The cake tastes better when you wait one day before eating it. Eat within a week.

  • Store in an airtight container. Can be frozen for up to two months after cutting into portions and wrapping tightly in cling film.

Baumkuchen – Tree Cake