The January 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Francijn of “Koken in de Brouwerij”. She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).
This is the delicious result of my second Daring Baker’s challenge! I am TOTALLY addicted to this cake… It is delicious. It’s not the kind of delicious that smacks you in the face during your first bite, rather the kind that grows deeper and deeper with each sliver you take off the cake, telling yourself “it doesn’t count as another piece it’s just a little sliver”. The kind of appreciation and addiction that has grown to gargantuan proportions by the time the cake is gone and you are left with an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. Contemplating making another… But realizing that I just ate (almost) the whole cake by myself over the course of a few days. Granted, it’s not a huge cake but still.. I should wait a bit before I make another…
The idea behind a “tree cake” is that it’s cooked gradually by smearing a thin layer of batter into the bottom of a pan, cooking that, then smearing another layer on the just cooked layer and cooking that. This process continues until your batter is gone. So yes, I won’t lie to you, this is time consuming and can be a bit tedious if you don’t have the TV or some music on in the background because you really can’t venture too far from the stove since each thin layer cooks only a few minutes before you need to spread the next layer on. I decided to adapt the recipe posted for my Daring Baker’s challenge (sited below) by making half vanilla and half chocolate. As I baked and smeared layers I alternated the two for a nice effect. After each “white” layer I smeared a glaze of rum and raspberry jam just to add another layer of dimension and flavor. I chose raspberry rum because there is marzipan in the batter for this cake (YUM) and I love almond and raspberry together (marzipan is basically a sweetened almond paste). After the whole cake is baked and cooled, you let loose a batch of ganache over it, which drips down over the top and sides and makes a nice thick layer of chocolate. OMG.
There is a learning process to making this cake. The layers in my cake are a bit “muddy” I will admit because at first I don’t think I was allowing each layer to bake long enough and therefore when I spread the next layer on it mixed a bit with the previous layer. So not as beautiful as I was hoping it would but next time it will be! Also, the original recipe says to “bake” each layer but I wonder if broiling wouldn’t work better since by the time I was done with the entire cake the bottom layers were quite overdone. So overdone that i carefully cut off the bottom 3 or 4 layers. I have written broiling into the following directions, just take care because broilers can vary. This is a cake you need to keep an eye on inherently so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. You may need to crack your oven door while broiling and broil until it is just set. Upon further research I have found tree cake recipes that call for broiling so i think this is the appropriate technique to use.
A technicality I would like to clear up is that the cake I made is technically a “Schichttorte” not a “Baumkuchen” because a Baumkuchen is cooked on a rotating spit over/under a heat source so that the cake cooks into a log and when sliced looks like the rings of trees (thus the name). A “Schinttorte” is a layered cake, a version of the Baumkuchen. The names seem to be somewhat interchangeable within the online community so I included both names in the title here.
I will make this cake again in the future but it will have to be reserved for a day when I have a good amount of time on my hands and some patience. Don’t be scared off by that just know that this project does need some babysitting. It is worth it! You can make the entire cake chocolate or vanilla, depending on your preference and you can omit the glaze if you prefer, but I love that taste that hits your tongue in the subtlest way and that you don’t quite place unless you are looking for it. Yum.
Baumkuchen or Schichttorte (German “Tree Cake”)
(Cake batter recipe adapted from “101 heerlijke recepten voor cake & gebak” (101 delicious recipes for cake and pastry), which is a translation of “Lieblingskuchen” (favorite pastries))
Ingredients for the cake:
- 6 large eggs (room temperature)
- Pinch of fine kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 2/3 cup (5-1/3 oz) (150 gm) marzipan
- 6 tbsp. softened unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup un-bleached, all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
Ingredients for the Glaze:
- ½ cup red raspberry preserves
- ¼ cup dark rum
Ingredients for the Ganache Topping:
- 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate (up to 62% cocoa), finely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. dark rum, optional
- Preheat your broiler to low
- Line a 9 or 10 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper, grease both paper and pan
- Divide the eggs. Beat the egg whites with the salt until nearly stiff, add the sugar and beat until really stiff
- Finely crumble the marzipan. Beat it with the softened butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until soft and creamy. Add the egg yolks one by one and beat well between each addition. Add the stiff egg whites and flour and gently fold it into the batter. Trying not to lose too much air.
- Using a kitchen scale, divide the batter in half
- To half of the batter, mix in the cocoa powder
- In a medium bowl, mix the raspberry preserves and rum. Microwave for 30-45 seconds or until warm and thinned. Pass through a sieve to remove the seeds
- Smear 1/6th to 1/5th of the chocolate batter on the bottom of the pan, keep the sides of the pan clean, and broil for (about) 2-4 minutes in the oven, until it is cooked and brown.
- Take the pan out of the oven, smear 1/6th to 1/5th of the vanilla batter carefully over the first, and broil for another 2-4 minutes or until cooked and brown.
- Remove from oven and drizzle about 1 tbsp. of the raspberry rum glaze over the white cake layer
- Smear another layer of chocolate batter into the pan. Repeat this process, alternating between chocolate and vanilla batter, cooking between each and drizzle the glaze after each vanilla layer until the batter has been used up
- If you need to flatten a bubble insert a tooth pick or similar to deflate the bubble.
- Let the cake cool down for a few minutes, take it out of the pan, remove the parchment paper and let the cake cool completely on a wired rack. Trim the edges.
- While the cake cools, prepare the ganache:
- Place the bittersweet chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl
- Bring the heavy cream to a low boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching and then pour it over the chocolate, stirring to melt until smooth. Whisk to remove lumps if necessary, but avoid working too much air into it
- Stir in the rum if using
- Allow ganache to cool slightly before pouring over your cooled cake
- To pour over the cake, place parchment under the wire rack the cake is resting on and slowly pour the ganache over the cake, starting at the center and working outward
- Allow to cool so the ganache will set-up before serving
- Store in an air-tight container. Refrigeration is not necessary