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 :)