Posted in: Food - Tuesday, March 20 2012
As soon as Ms H of The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader said that she was hosting the next Sweet Adventures Blog Hop with the theme of Layer Upon Layer, I couldn’t help but think of yet another Japanese bakery favourite (although Sara Lee’s old commercials came to mind as well…). Baumkuchen (literally ‘tree cake’ in German) is a traditional European layered cake that, through a unique method of baking, resembles a cross-section of a tree trunk; each fine layer gives the effect of growth rings.
Apparently a German baker living in Japan in the early 20th Century started making Baumkuchen in Yokohama (where I was born incidentally :) ). It’s not surprising that it became so popular since the Japanese were voracious for all things Western at the time. The cake is also a rather charming nod to nature and the Japanese are well known for incorporating elements their natural habitat into the presentation of their food.
In researching Baumkuchen recipes, I was warned a fair few times that this was one cake that was nearly impossible to make at home. You basically need a spit or rotisserie and a huge amount of time and patience. I did find a few recipes on Japanese websites that made fairly good versions of Baumkuchen with the use of a special frying pan used to make Japanese egg rolls but I didn’t get around to putting an order in for such a frying pan in time for this hop.
Needless to say, my first two efforts to make Baumkuchen by emulating a spit with a chiffon cake tin (what was I thinking??), and by using of a small oven tray as a rectangular frying pan were dismal failures. With time no longer on my side, I decided to go with a crepe cake with a twist. I used the core of a paper towel roll and wrapped it with baking paper. I proceeded to make about 20 crepes of which I cut two opposite sides off to make a straight edge. I wrapped each crepe around the paper towel core, brushing each layer with some Beerenberg Farm Blood Orange marmalade. Once I finished rolling the crepe around, I put it into the fridge to set a little.
I took my creation out of the fridge and gently removed the inner core. The crepe cake actually held together OK! I cut the roll into 3cm lengths and I was pleased to see that the inside resembled a Baumkuchen :))
I served up my crepe Baumkuchen with brown sugar semifreddo and a good drop of maple syrup. Not quite the soft squishy cake experience of a true Baumkuchen but it was delicious nonetheless with the creamy semifreddo melting through the layers. Until I dare try the Baumkuchen recipe again, I am happy to settle for this ‘tree’ cake!
Thanks to The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader for hosting this month and looking forward to next month’s adventure :)
20 Comments for this entry
March 20th, 2012 on 1:48 pm
YUM!! :) Sounds delicious! Very layer-ey ;)
March 20th, 2012 on 3:57 pm
Love the crepe layers! Thanks for passing by my blog :D
March 20th, 2012 on 4:27 pm
Wow, how interesting!
March 20th, 2012 on 8:21 pm
Gorgeous! Love that it is a circle rather than a stack and the jam between layers sounds delicious. Just read about proper baumkuchen – crazy!
March 21st, 2012 on 12:32 am
Wow, still looks impressive. Had no idea you were born in Yokohama! I’m an Aussie girl married to a Japanese guy and loving reading your blog so much I subscribed. Looking forward to more interesting posts!! I’ve never tried baumkuchen but I would love to one day. I have a busy 1 year old so I have no chance to make this at the moment, maybe some day… :)
March 21st, 2012 on 11:33 am
I love the idea behind this Baumkuchen cake, I’ve never had it before but it sounds delicious. Is there anywhere in Perth that I can try this? You did a great adaptation and it looks amazing! I like how you can put the semifreddo inside the log :)
March 21st, 2012 on 2:06 pm
What a beautiful looking baumkuchen! I’ve seen it a lot in Japan and always thought that the layers were stunning! :D
March 21st, 2012 on 9:35 pm
Monica, this is seriously one of the coolest desserts I’ve ever come across! I’ve never heard/seen anything like it before. And I like how it’s so German but has some sort of Japanese roots as well. Too cool, seriously… Thank you for sharing this creation with all of us. The SABH just keeps getting better and better, eh?!
March 22nd, 2012 on 6:49 pm
Wow! Looks like this requires a lot of patience! I think its worth the effort though!
March 25th, 2012 on 8:40 am
Wow, this looks fantastic and impressive!! I’ve never heard of baumkuchen, thanks for introducing me :D