Baumkuchen: a tree cake

Words to make me swoon: Instant. Cake. Gratification.

After a hard morning of scrubbing clean the oven followed by grocery shopping, I found myself still peckish even after eating lunch. I wanted something sweet. Specifically, I wanted cake.

You know those times when you’re craving not only a particular taste or flavour, but also a particular texture? Well this was one of those times when neither chocolate nor biscuits would do. I wanted cake but didn’t feel like baking, after having spent enough “quality” time with the oven already.

Lucky for me, there was cake in my kitchen!

And even luckier for me, it was a belated Christmas gift which had arrived via international post from Hong Kong. It’s one thing to receive food souvenirs from friends’ travels but it’s an entirely different experience to receive cake in the post and, to top things off, this was no ordinary cake – this was a baumkuchen which had been made in Japan. I have friends who really do know how to look after me.

A cake which I’d never seen, heard of, or tasted before which just made it all the more exciting. Monsieur Poisson and I quickly enlisted the services of Mr Google which led us to that all-knowing source by the name of Wikipedia, which in turn told us:

“Baumkuchen is a kind of layered cake. It is a traditional dessert in many countries throughout Europe and is also a popular snack and dessert in Japan. The characteristic golden rings that appear when sliced give the cake its German name… which literally translates to “tree cake” or “log cake”. It is also known as the “King of Cakes”.

Baumkuchen is made on a spit by brushing on even layers of batter and then rotating the spit around a heat source. Each layer is allowed to brown before a new layer of batter is poured. When the cake is removed and sliced, each layer is divided from the next by a golden line, resembling the growth rings on a crosscut tree. A typical Baumkuchen is made up of 15 to 20 layers of batter.”

Sitting in a custom plastic mould and sealed in plastic packaging before being nestled in a shiny red and pink box, the cake was completely intact when received at my end. It helps that the cake is dense, although to eat it is not at all stodgy. It smells and tastes like an eggy buttercake but is neither rich nor crumbly. And although the one I received was from Japan, it is reported to be true to the original recipe by the German fellow credited to introducing baumkuchen to Japan and is the brand’s namesake. I counted 18 layers of batter on our cake which has a thin layer of white glaze around the outside.

Can you imagine being able to sit and watch this cake being made on a spit? *Cake spins round, and round, and round, and round, and...*

Excuse me while I go and have another piece of my tree cake now!

happy eating!


  1. zomg that cake is awesome! i want to know how it's made! i know how to do normal flat layer cakes but woo that tree cake is pretty! food gifts are awesome

  2. Juccheim is the famous baumkuchen maker in Japan, lucky you! :D

  3. ah I love watching those baumkuchen rolls spin around in Japanese depaato. I like to eat mine layer by layer. It takes a while! lol

  4. The cross section of that cake looks awesome!

  5. Yum... haven't had this in a while but I love peeling it by the layer and eating it mmm

    p.s. Happy new year :D

  6. whoaa!! the cake is crazzzyyyyyy! looks crazily good and delicious! i cant believe u sat there, counting the layers. I wouldve just grabbed it and stuffed it in my face

  7. Wow! What a cake and what a way to reward yourself! I'd so love to watch this cake get made and have 100 layers; a Homer Simpson would say "to the heavens!"

  8. what an awesome looking cake! I wish I got surprise cakes in the mail everyday hehehe

  9. The last time I was in Tokyo I spotted them making this. I stood there in the food hall for a good 30 minutes just watching it spin around and the chef applying more layers. Awesome!

  10. I have seen these cakes on European cooking shows before. They looks so cool. The only rotisserie I have is on the barbecue. It would probably come out tasting like burnt meat. I want your baumkuchen now.

  11. That's really cool! A cake rotisserie sounds like a dream come true.

  12. I remember baumkuchen was really popular when I lived in Japan. It was even at the convenience store! I made a tree cake this week but a rather different kind! :)

  13. hehe, I just saw these cakes being made on TV really recently, lucky you to be sent cakes in the mail!

  14. Oh I LOVE Baumkuchen!! I get my grandparents to send me one in each package they send over here! and my mum brought back two of these when she went back.

  15. WOW look at that cake, hope there is a crumb left for me?? please? haha

  16. Baumkuchen was everywhere in Japan! Personally not so sure what the hype is about, but they do look nice! :-)

  17. BAUM KUCHEN! haha wow rotating a cake around a spit!? it's like a cross between a 99 layered croissant pastry and a roast pig haha.. . . , but made of cake haha
    yeah cake is awesome but free cake is awesomest!

  18. Hey chocolatesuze, You Tube has some great videos showing how the cake is made using custom-made machinery but I'd love to know how people used to make it by hand!

    Hey Fluffy, yes, I realise my friend send me one from a rather well-known brand!

    Hey Helen, I tried separating all the layers when eating it but it was just too hard, not to mention slow!

    Hey Kristy, the cake tasted nice and is lovely to look at =)

    Hey mashi, happy new year and lots of cake to you too!

    Hey sugarpuffi, haha, but I wanted to know how many rings my cake had! =p

    Hey Phuoc, thanks for the video link you sent of the cake being made!

    Hey Jacq, food makes for excellent gifts =D

    Hey phonakins, spinning, spinning, spinning, spinning...

    Hey Sara, haha, I'm sure I would do that too given the chance!

    Hey Mark, I believe they're quite difficult and laborious to make by hand and, no, I'm not about to set myself a challenge =p

    Hey Emma, perhaps the next Masterchef series could popularise a rotisserie cake contraption?

    Hey Lorraine, friends in Japan tell me they pick it up from convenience stores as a snack all the time!

    Hey YaYa, I'd love to be able to see one being made in real life.

    Hey oh-ayana, haha, so I'm not the only one who receives cake in the mail! Lucky you =)

    Hey Julie, haha, afraid not. I had the last piece to myself and didn't even share it with the husband!

    Hey Maria, part of the appeal is definitely the appearance but this one tasted quite nice which was a bonus!

    Hey Grace, haha, not flaky like a croissant but multi-layered, yes!

  19. What a cool looking cake! I wonder how they assembled this thing? And how thoughtful of your friends. I need to have a chat to mine now..

  20. Hey Forager, there are some great You Tube videos showing motorised rotisseries being dipped and rotated in cake batter - seriously engaging stuff!

  21. Is there a website to get these from?

    1. Not as far as I know but, then again, I've never searched!


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