Sub-Zero Weather and a Baumkuchen

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Our January Baker’s Challenge is in the books!  It’s Baumkuchen (pron “bahm koo chen”) which translates into “tree cake” in German. We get the alliteration because this culinary delicacy honestly looks like a cross-sectional cut of an ancient tree. That is…the many layers of cake look like the rings on a tree.  The end result of this cake is not only beautiful to behold, but will command a chorus of “oohs” and “ahhhs” from your guests as you slice into this masterpiece. And then, the chorus changes to “yummm” and “OMG! as they partake.

This latest Daring Baker’s Challenge was definitely that, a challenge.  We made this on a day when the weather was sub-freezing and our heater magically stopped working. Ladies and gentlemen, rev your ovens! Fair warning: this cake is not for the faint of oven. It is not difficult in terms of expert skill required, but you gotta have patience, pay attention, and the time to devote to making it because it is made one step at a time – and you can’t skip or combine the steps. There’s no shortcuts we could find, but we believe the end result is more than worth every bit of time spent.  Layers and layers and LAYERS of moist cake and jam all topped with a delicious chocolate ganache and coconut…there’s a reason this isn’t your “everyday” cake.

We know this cake is time-consuming. We know you may look at the recipe and think, “Oh that’s too much work.” We know these things. We are usually card-carrying members and die-hard advocates of Club K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid)  and this cake flies in the face of our lifelong mission to keep baking easy and fun! But, IF IF IF you make this cake, you will not be sorry. Your tongue will think it is floating on a cloud after savoring this delight. You will never know until you try!  Enjoy!

Ciao for now,

V & K

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Baumkuchen

Ingredients:
All ingredients should be room temperature

  • 1-1/2 cups almond paste, tightly packed (see recipe below)
  • 6 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 10 eggs, separated (put the whites in a bowl big enough to whip them up to stiff peaks)
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 10 oz jar strawberry or apricot jam
  • 1-½ cup toasted coconut

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 3 oz dark chocolate chips

Homemade Almond Paste

  • 1-1/2 cups almond flour or meal
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

This cake is really easy to make, if just a little time consuming. So plug  in a movie or your favorite CD and put on comfy shoes because HERE. WE. GO.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste with the heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time. It will resemble mashed potatoes when you’re done.

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Next, beat in softened butter until fluffy, scraping the bowl to make sure it’s all mixed in.

Next, slowly beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides.

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Next, beat in the egg yolks, one at a time

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Add the vanilla.
Next, sift in the flour and cornstarch in thirds. Beat until well incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed.
Next, beat the egg whites until they make stiff peaks, but aren’t dry.

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Fold  the egg whites into the batter in twos until it looks like a cloud.

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How to bake the cake:

Ladies and gentlemen, start your broilers!!

Turn on the broiler and let it warm up for a few minutes. (Our broiler is set at 500 degrees) Meanwhile, grease and line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper. Don’t skimp on the butter because if you don’t use enough, the wax paper will curl and mess up your entire cake.

Next, spread 1/4 cup of batter in the bottom of the pan using a pastry brush.

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Broil this layer until deep golden brown. I have found that it takes about 3 minutes in my oven. (Note: As you continue to layer the cake and broil each layer, the more layers you have, the less you need to broil. I have found that once my cake is about ¾ the way up the pan, it only takes 2 minutes under the broiler.)

Here is an example of too brown:

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Here is an example of too light:

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Here is an example of “just right”:

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Then, add another 1/4 cup batter. Spread it out with a brush and broil, as before.

After repeating this step a few times, spread a layer with a bit of jam. Continue making a few layers of cake to every layer of jam, until half the jam is used up. (I usually do 3 layers of cake and then a layer of jam. It spreads the jammy flavor to perfection!)

Be sure to push the batter evenly around so the cake remains flat. Doming cakes are forbidden. You can correct as you go by adding more or less batter to certain areas.

Once you have completely used the batter, let cool on the counter for a few hours.

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After a few hours, make the Ganache:

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add corn syrup and vanilla extract. Remove from heat and toss in the chocolate chips. Stir continuously until the chocolate chips are melted completely and the mixture is thick and glossy.

Pour evenly over top and sides of cake. The sides can be less than perfect because they’ll get covered with the toasted coconut. Press toasted coconut over the sides and outer edge of cake before the ganache has completely hardened. Refrigerate to set the glaze.

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Do you see those layers? Hmmm, let’s get a closeup…

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Beautiful, beautiful LAYERS!!! *Insert “oohs” and “ahhs” here*

We would like to thank Sasha Martin at http://globaltableadventure.com/ for her posts about Baumkuchen. Without her knowledge of this cake, we would have been lost the first time we made it!

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, those layers are amazing – talk about patience! It looks so worth it though 🙂

    • Korena – Thanks for your comments. This beautiful cake is NOT difficult…just time consuming, but has a super high “WOW” factor.

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