Monday, January 27, 2014

Cherry Chocolate Tree Cake (Baumkuchen)

Here I am [upon writing this post] past my baby's due date, thinking I wasn't going to be fortunate enough to participate in this month's Daring Bakers challenge.  I'm impatient to meet this baby, to be sure, but so glad I had the opportunity to do some bonus baking while I wait!

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).

The Baumkuchen is referred to as a "tree cake" due to the layers of batter that are cooked one at a time, creating lines that resemble the rings of a tree.  If you look up images of a tree cake, you will see they are traditionally/professionally baked on a spit so it literally looks like a round slice from a tree trunk.  Which is awesome, but ain't gonna happen in my kitchen!

I tried for a cherry chocolate version, which didn't turn out as pink as I imagined...maybe you'll want to add a little extra minced cherries to the batter.  And my layers didn't stack up as tall as had I pictured.  Maybe next time I'll double the recipe and really get some height!  Or I could have used a smaller pan.  Nonetheless, it's a beautiful and delicious treat, that isn't as hard to make as you might think.

See here for the original Daring Bakers challenge recipe, which gives another variation on how to make the batter.

Baumkuchen (Tree Cake)
Adapted from this post.  Serves 12.

10 egg whites, room temp
10 egg yolks, room temp
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely minced maraschino cherries
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cherry jam
2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
1 1/4 cups high quality dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup half and half

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Grease a 10 inch square cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer on high for 5 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 3/4 cup sugar, minced cherries and 1 tablespoon cherry juice and beat until combined well.

Pour egg yolks into butter mixture and beat well on medium speed until combined well (it will be slightly chunky, but nearly smooth).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until blended.

Thoroughly wash your beaters so they are clean of any grease. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Fold egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.

Pour 2/3 cup of batter in the bottom of the prepared pan and evenly spread the batter across the bottom of the pan. (I find this easiest to do using the flat bottom of my measuring cup.)  Place in the oven for 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

Switch the oven onto the broil setting.  Spread another 2/3 cup of batter on top of the first layer. Broil for one minute, or until browning lightly.  Repeat the spreading and broiling process until your batter is gone.

Melt cherry jam with 2 tablespoons cherry juice and strain.  Glaze the top of the cake with this mixture while warm.  (I find this easiest to do by spreading the glaze using a wide putty knife or bench scraper.)

Cool completely in the pan.  Remove the cake from the pan and slice the cake into 12 rectangles. Place cakes on a wire rack set over a sheet pan.  

Place chocolate in a medium bowl.  Bring half and half to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat and pour over chocolate.  Whisk vigorously until smooth.  Let the liquid chocolate cool for a couple minutes until thickening.  Pour warm, slightly thin ganache over the cakes and cool.



  1. Your cake is super cute, I'm glad you could participate this month :)

  2. I love the way you portioned your cake, and the cherry!
    Would have never thought of this ingredient but it makes perfectly sense to me.
    Gorgeous interpretation :)
    Have a lovely evening

  3. I like the little pink bits from the cherries! I bet is as delicious as it looks. Great job on the challenge, especially with a baby bump in the way. Congratulations!

  4. Beautiful layers, and I love the cherry chocolate combination. Best wishes for your new arrival!

  5. Your cake looks beautiful and your flavor choice sounds delicious. I love cherry and chocolate. Hope your staying warm there...


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