Baumkuchen is a type of German spit cake. A cake that’s grilled on a rotating spit, not someone propelling their excess saliva on it! It’s also very popular in Japan and can is often referred to as a ‘tree cake’ due it’s many thin layers that resemble the growth rings of a tree trunk. When you cut into it, it’s really quite a lovely and visually appealing experience that caused a few oohs & aahs when I made it for a Table de Cuisines dinner last month. Baumkuchen can sometimes be made to be several feet tall using a spit, but of course this isn’t really possible in an average kitchen! Instead, a horizontal version called a schichttorte is something that most of us can create at home.
Unlike most cakes we are used to, a schichttorte is grilled, not baked. Without having a functioning spit in your kitchen, your oven grill does a pretty good job. The batter is poured into a cake tin in thin layers, sometimes with a bit of jam and then grilled, layer after layer. It’s definitely not a difficult mix to do, but you need to allocate some time to literally sit next to your oven and keep an eye on the batter changing colour so as to avoid it becoming a burnt mess.
It has a lovely almond flavour and is quite dense, but not in a bad way. With a warmed knife it cuts beautifully and is without a doubt one of the favourite cakes I’ve made. Perfect with some afternoon tea, for a special occasion or just because you want to impress people with your cake grilling skills!
300g marzipan or almond paste
6 tbsp 10% milk (or mix some milk with a bit of cream like I do sometimes!)
170g unsalted butter, soft, at room temperature
190g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
125g plain flour, sifted
115g cornflour, sifted
225g jar of apricot jam
45g unsalted butter
1 tbsp dark rum
1 tbsp golden syrup*
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
85g 70% dark chocolate
50g slivered/chopped almonds
- Grease & line the base of a 9″ springform tin** with parchment paper.
- Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites into a large bowl to be whipped up later.
- In another large bowl beat and soften the marzipan, gradually adding the milk a tablespoon at a time.
- Beat in the soft butter till well combined. Beat in the sugar. Then beat in the vanilla and egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Next add the flours and combine the batter well.
- In the other bowl, whip the egg whites till they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter gently.
- Turn on your grill and then scoop about 4-5 tbsp (1/4 cup) into the prepared cake tin. Tilt the batter so that it evenly covers the base. For this first layer, be sure to cover the parchment paper so it doesn’t burn!
- Grill till the batter is a lovely golden brown. Remember that if it is too light in colour, the layers wont show as well later on.
- Remove from the grill and spread a thin layer of apricot jam onto the grilled cake using a pastry brush. Scoop & tilt another 4-5 tbsp (1/4 cup) of batter on top.
- Grill again and then repeat with the rest of the batter. Brush on a layer of jam after every two layers.
- Once you have used up & grilled all the cake batter, you should have about 15 layers. Any remaining jam will be used to coat the cake later.
- Leave the cake to cool & chill in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight.
- Remove the cake from the tin & brush the cake with a thin layer of apricot jam. Return it to the fridge whilst you prepare the chocolate glaze.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the rum, golden syrup, vanilla. Remove from the heat & add the chocolate. Gently stir till the chocolate has melted & the glaze is smooth & glossy.
- Carefully pour the chocolate over the cake, tilting it slightly so as it is completely coated.
- Decorate with almonds & leave to set in the fridge for an hour before serving. When cutting, use a clean warm & sharp knife before making each slice.
*Golden syrup isn’t readily available in Québec, so I make my own! If you can’t get your hands on any, a light corn syrup will do the same job.
** You could use a slightly smaller 8″ tin & it won’t be a problem. Just reduce the amount of batter for each scoop and be prepared to do a few extra layers. You could even make two mini 5″ ones… or….