Baumkuchen (German Tree Cake) for Special Occasions

Baumkuchen is a one-of-a-kind and spectacular German cake produced by broiling numerous thin layers of batter, which when cut mimics the age rings in a tree trunk. A thick chocolate icing complements the cake’s subtle almond flavor. This is an absolutely gorgeous cake fit for any special event. You can also construct a simpler version at home!

a simple elegant slice of Baumkuchen in front of the cake on a stand

Ingredients

  • 180 grams (6.3 ounces) almond paste ⇔ or 1 cup (100 grams) almond flour + ¼ cup (80 grams) honey + ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 250 grams (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter
  • 12 large eggs
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) rum
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 250 grams (1¼ cups) natural evaporated cane sugar
  • 125 grams (1 cup) gluten free flour blend (or regular all purpose flour for non-gluten-free)
  • 125 grams (1 cup) cornstarch
  • 280 grams (1 cup) apricot jam, divided (use only ½ cup if not including it between the layers)

For finishing the cake

  • 150 grams (¾ cup) chocolate chips or chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • 80 mls (⅓ cup) whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • optional – 100 grams (1 cup) toasted sliced almonds (toasted until golden; about 8 to 10 minutes in a 350°F/180°C oven)
whole Baumkuchen with one slice out of it

Instruction

  1. Preheat the oven’s broiler grill and position the top rack about 7 inches from the top element. Grease one 9-inch (23-centimeter) springform pan or two 8-inch (20-centimeter) springform pans and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper trimmed to fit. Three bowls are required: one big for the whipped whites, one medium for the yolk mixture, and one tiny for the flour and cornstarch.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the chopped almond paste (or almond flour, honey, and almond flavor) with the butter in a medium bowl until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a small dish or a spouted measuring cup, and the whites in a large mixing basin (large enough to hold them all when they are beaten, plus the rest of the batter).
  4. Continue to mix the almond paste and butter, then add one egg at a time from the cup or bowl they’re in, beating after each addition. Mix in the rum, vanilla, and salt well. Remove from the equation.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with clean beaters until soft peaks form (it’s helpful to have a second little hand mixer for this). Gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat the egg whites until they are thick and glossy, and no sugar granules can be felt when rubbing a little amount between your thumb and fingertips.
  6. Scoop up roughly a quarter of the beaten whites and fold them into the yolk mixture until well integrated but not collapsed. This step is crucial because it tempers the yolks, allowing them to blend more easily into the whites when folding them together.
  7. Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a small bowl (if you don’t have a flour sifter, you may just use a sieve).
  8. One-third of the tempered egg yolk combination and one-third of the flour mixture should be added to the beaten egg whites in the big mixing bowl. Fold them gently together with a silicone spatula. Repeat two more times until the flour and yolks are just combined and a large bowl of frothy batter is formed. Over-folding will cause the batter to deflate, and you want it to be light and fluffy.
  9. If you’re using apricot jam between the layers (I like it, but I’ve made it without and it’s still delicious), melt 12 cup of apricot jam in a small pot in the oven or a microwave-safe bowl and set it aside.
  10. If you’re using a 9-inch springform pan, pour a heaping half-cup of batter into it. Place an even half-cup of batter in each of the two 8-inch springform pans. (To scrape out the batter, I like to use a 12-cup dry-measuring cup and a little spatula.) With the back of a spoon or a spatula, smooth the batter into a thin, uniform layer. Under the broiler, place the baking sheet (or pans) on the rack and cook until the top is a good rich golden brown. Keep a tight eye on the skillet (or pans). It will just take 45 to 60 seconds to complete (although the first layer may take a bit longer).
  11. Remove the pan (or pans) from the oven and repeat the batter layering process. Broil it once more. However, keep an eye on it since the batter may go from uncooked to burned in a matter of seconds! Broilers can cycle on and off to maintain their heat consistent the longer they’re in use, so certain layers may be done considerably faster than others. It requires constant monitoring. The layers should be golden enough to thoroughly cook the batter and show through when slicing the cake, but not burned. Make each layer of batter flat and even, spreading it to the pan’s borders, so your cake doesn’t have a domed or dipped top when it’s done.
  12. Continue to spread and broil layers, but if using apricot jam, brush a tiny layer of jam beneath the batter every third layer. If you’re using a 9-inch pan, keep layering the jam until you’ve used up the 12 cup of hot jam. If you’re using two 8-inch pans, use the jam until you’re left with about 2 teaspoons – you’ll keep this to use to sandwich the two cakes together once they’ve cooled.
  13. You should have around 12 layers of batter altogether if using a 9-inch pan. You should have around 8 layers in each of the two 8-inch pans, for a total of 16 layers. Broiling the batter layers will take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on whether you use one or two pans.
  14. Set the cakes aside to cool fully once you’ve finished the last layer. Remove the sides of the cake pan. If using two 8-inch pans, pour the remaining 2 teaspoons of jam on one cake and stack the other cake on top (you may need to reheat it). You may either cover the cooled cake tightly in plastic wrap and glaze it the next day, or wrap it and place it in a freezer bag to freeze it for up to 3 months at a later date.
  15. Heat the remaining 12 cup apricot jam and crush any large bits of apricots with a fork to glaze the cake. Brush a layer of jam all over the top and edges of the Baumkuchen with a pastry brush, settling any smaller apricot lumps into any low places or dips. Make full use of the jam. Allow the jam to set and get sticky by leaving the cake exposed for approximately an hour.
  16. Heat the chocolate, cream, coconut oil, and rum in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until approximately 3/4 of the chocolate chunks are melted. Remove the pan from the heat and continue to whisk until all of the chocolate has melted and the glaze is smooth and glossy. Allow it to cool for a few minutes, until it thickens somewhat and becomes a thin pudding-like consistency.
  17. Laid the Baumkuchen on an inverted saucer set on wax paper or parchment paper to catch any drips, still connected to the springform pan’s base. Pour the glaze in a pool on top of the cake, then gradually work tiny portions to the edge of the cake with a spatula so that it drapes down the edges. Spread the glaze over a part of the side with the spatula. Continue adding glaze from the top and spreading it along the sides until they are completely coated. The glaze should then be smoothed over the top of the cake. You may either let the icing set and serve the cake plain, or you can top it with toasted almonds. Allow the glaze to dry somewhat before patting the almonds over the edges of the cake using little quantities in your hands. Pick up any that have dropped and place them in any bare places on the cake to equally cover the sides.
  18. Allow the glaze to dry before carefully sliding the cake off the springform base and onto a serving plate using two flat pancake flippers, or just setting it on the serving plate still attached to the springform base. Baumkuchen is delicious when topped with whipped cream that has been mildly sweetened.
a slice of baumkuchen in front of the cake

Source: Kitchen Frau

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