Christmas is now well behind us for another year but I just now finally have some time to blog about my favourite holiday sweet and Christmas tradition of baking a German BaumKuchen for my family’s Christmas Eve dinner.
I started baking BaumKuchen about 4 years ago when the only bakery in Toronto to sell them shut down. I didn’t want to let go of the tradition of ending Christmas dinner with this cake so I decided to bake my own.
The cake is made of multiple layers of a light batter that has a delicate taste of almonds and apricot. Usually a BaumKuchen is covered in a chocolate glaze. The cake ages well and usually tastes best a couple of days after it has been baked.
For the cake you will need:
2 – 8 oz pkgs of almond paste
7 tbsp cream
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
10 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
¾ cup cornstarch
10 egg whites (whipped to stiff peak)
1 jar apricot jam (size of jar depends on your preference and how much apricot flavour you want to add to the cake)
Prepare a 10” spring form by lightly greasing and lining the bottom with a parchment paper circle.
**TIP** Before you start the cake batter, whip the egg whites to stiff beat in your stand mixer. Transfer finished egg whites to a bowl. No need to wash the bowl you can continue on to the cake batter. I often forget to do this so end up having to whip the egg whites with a hand mixer (which doesn’t create any problems; it’s just a bit more work).
With the paddle attachment beat the almond paste together with the cream. With the mixer running very slowly add the cream until it is fully incorporated. Add the butter and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Be sure to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times to ensure that everything gets full blended.
Add the sugar and beat until fully mixed. With the mixer still running add the egg yolks to the batter one at a time. Allow each yolk to fully incorporate before adding the next. Half way through the egg yolks you can add in the vanilla.
In a small bowl sift together the flour and cornstarch.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and with a spatula carefully fold in the egg whites being careful not to over mix.
Turn your oven to broil.
Using a 1/3 measuring cup scoop out some cake batter and place it in the spring form. With a pastry brush spread the batter evenly across the surface. It will be thin.
Place the spring form under the broiler until it is a golden brown.
**As you are broiling layers be sure to stay close by. The layers go from a perfect golden brown to DARK very quickly! There is the temptation to allow them to darken just a bit more to achieve more distinctive layers. I tried this one year but ended up getting a cake that was a bit on the dry side. Stick to the golden brown and you will get a deliciously moist cake and still have nicely defined layers.**
Remove from oven.
Scoop another 1/3 cup of batter into the spring form. If you allow the batter to sit for 15-30 seconds it will warm up enough to make it easier to spread. Make sure to spread the batter all the way to the edges each time to create a level cake.
Place back under the broiler until the layer is golden brown.
**You will find that when broiling some layers bubbles will appear. Pop them with a toothpick and allow the air to escape. This will also help you to achieve a level cake.**
I add a layer of apricot jam every 4th layer (you can add more or less depending on your preference). Once you’ve removed the spring form from the oven add one or two tbsp of apricot jam and spread evenly. Add your next 1/3 cup of cake batter directly on top of the jam. If you are using jam with chunks you will find that this layer is a bit more difficult to spread and will be uneven. Don’t worry about it as it will even itself out again.
Continue this pattern until you are either out of cake batter or have reached the top of your spring form. This year I got exactly 24 layers which I thought was appropriate because we enjoy this cake on Christmas Eve.
Allow the cake to cool completely for several hours or even overnight.
Remove the cake from the spring form. If you have some left over apricot jam, add some water and heat on low until combined and smooth. You want to add enough water to make a glaze that will spread over the top of your cake. If you were using a jam with chunks strain the glaze through a sieve. Coat the top and sides of the cake with the glaze. Place in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate glaze.
For the chocolate glaze you will need:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp amaretto
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp corn syrup
4 oz chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)
In a sauce pan melt the butter and corn syrup. Add in the vanilla and amaretto. Simmer on low for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate chips and cover. After several minutes remove the lid and stir the glaze together until shiny.
Place the cake on a cooling rack (I usually place the rack on top of tin foil for easy clean up). Pour the glaze on top of the cake. With an offset palette knife carefully spread the glaze over the top of the cake and allow to run down the sides. Smooth the sides but don’t worry too much about getting it perfect as you can cover this with slivered almonds.
This year I also topped it with some dominosteine (a German Christmas cookie made of layers of German gingerbread, apricot jelly and marzipan) as I thought the flavours were a perfect match. I also added a touch of gold lustre dust for a festive finishing touch.
Note: As my youngest nephew is diabetic I always calculate the carb count when I bake goods that he will be eating. I have calculated this cake to have approximately 969 carbs. How many carbs per slice of course depends on how many slices you cut it into (generally I cut this cake into 12). This is an estimation only and exact carb count will vary.