Festive Baumkuchen

Getting in the holiday spirit with a German tree cake! Now I just need a tiny string of lights to decorate it. # 151: Festive Baumkuchen

This is the time of year when I try to get marzipan into everything I bake – it’s just so good! Plus this season is full of denser sweet cakes like stollen and fruitcake that are just begging for marzipan layers and swirls. This baumkuchen has it mixed into the cake batter before baking.

Baumkuchen translates directly to “tree cake,” named after it’s layered structure resemblance to tree rings. Twas another GBBO discovery and it looked just weird enough that I had to try it! It’s history is a little murky (multiple European countries claiming a stake in it’s creation) but the consensus seems to be that it’s a Bavarian cake originally. It was introduced to Japan during World War I and it’s popularity exploded! Just from researching recipes, more than half of the ones I found were translated from Japanese websites as opposed to German ones.

I found it to be a tad on the dry side, but the chocolate rum glaze was heavenly. If I make it again, I might have an additional bowl of glaze on the side for dipping. Don’t judge – once you’ve tried the glaze, you’ll feel the same!

So the crazy part of this recipe is that instead of baking all the batter at once, you broil thin layers of cake one by one. You want to each layer to turn a shade darker than golden so it’ll show up when you cut into the cake! I think it would be really yum with a layer of jam between every third layer of cake – it would definitely help it from being so dry. Oo maybe an apricot jam . . . I’m not drooling, you are!

Ready, set, go!

I always buy pre-made marzipan, but it’s super easy to make it from scratch! It’s just almonds and sugar, and depending on the recipe, some almond extract and corn syrup.

Action shot! Mix in all the goodness (except the egg whites, of course.)

Go turn those into snow-capped mountains and set em aside.

The figure-8 method for folding egg whites in works like a charm. Now the whole thing is cloud-like!

I know you’re supposed to go big or go home, but I went tiny on this one. Tiny loaf pans, to be exact. The original (and totally cooler) way to make baumkuchen is over an open flame on a spit. I included some videos below to give you the idea, but definitely not something that would work in my kitchen without burning it down. Hence, tiny loaf pans.

Spread a layer as thinly as possible on the bottom of the pan and watch it like a hawk for 4-6 minutes in the oven. Don’t be oven-shy and pull it out too early, but also don’t get cocky and let it burn.

Voila! Now repeat a dozen more times. I know, I know. There will be cake at the end, I promise!

Cake or cool rock formation? You can either trim them off for a smooth finish, leave em be and cover the sides with chopped almonds, or just accept it’s rustic structure and be done with it.

Glaze time! I’ve been refilling this older bottle from my mom – isn’t the label awesome? You’ll want to use a darker rum for a better flavor.

Just melted chocolate, rum, vanilla, corn syrup and butter. My kitchen smelled soo good. I also made a simple powdered sugar, rum and milk glaze for a color contrast.

Happy munching!

Recipe from: and see below for a few videos of baumkuchen being made with full-size bakery equipment:

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