Baumkuchen (German Tree Cake)

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Baumkuchen is a stunning almond-flavored cake with many paper-thin layers (mine has 11). It is traditionally made on a spit, but my version for home bakers can be done in the oven. It’s not a cake for beginners, but if you are up for a challenge, you will be wildly rewarded with the end result. The cake is gorgeous, moist, not too sweet, and the almond flavor pairs so well with the dark chocolate topping.

Slice of baumkuchen pulled out of the cake

Rather than removing baked layers from the pan and stacking them, in this cake – as in the spit version – each layer is baked on top of the one before it. Using top heat only (from the broiler) and only short bursts of heat keeps the bottom layers from burning. If done correctly, each layer should be identical.

As with the Zimtsterne recipe on this site, I baked this recipe with German food blogger Lilly of Lilly’s German Bakery and she gets full credit for developing the recipe and teaching me how to bake it!

Ingredients

Overhead shot of baumkuchen ingredients

Baumkuchen gets its almond flavor from three different ingredients: marzipan, amaretto, and almond extract. The three combined create the perfect trifecta of almond goodness.

The layers get their lightness from the 6 eggs in the recipe. The egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks and folded in.

Use your favorite chocolate to top the cake. I used TCHO 66 percent baking discs [paid link]. It’s important to temper the chocolate before using it so that the the cake will look shiny, not dull, when the chocolate cools. If you are new to tempering, read my tempering chocolate post for the easiest way to do this.

How It’s Made

Start by beating together butter and sugar. Then, mix in egg yolks, vanilla extract, and almond extract until frothy.

Adding egg yolks to batter in a glass bowl

Break up the marzipan and heat it in a small pot on low heat with amaretto. Stir until smooth. (You can also do this in the microwave, but it is harder to monitor and you run the risk of burning the marzipan.)

Add the marzipan to the batter and stir until fully combined.

Adding melted marzipan to the batter

Mix flour, cornstarch, and baking powder together and add them to the batter a little bit at a time.

Then, gently fold in whipped egg whites. Make sure they have reached stiff peaks, meaning they look shiny and hold their shape when lifted with a whisk.

Folding in egg whites to batter in a glass bowl

Now comes the complicated part – the baking! Turn on your broiler to 450 F. Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment (or grease well) and spread about 3 tablespoons of batter on it.

Spreading a thin layer of batter in a red springform pan

Place in the oven until it just starts to brown. You’ll want to keep a very close eye on it. In my oven, this took 100 seconds.

Spread the next layer of batter on top of the first one and return to the oven until that layer just starts to brown.

Spreading batter over cooked later with an offset spatula

Repeat until all of the batter is used up. It should be about 11 layers.

Cool the cake to room temperature, then pour melted tempered chocolate over the top and down the sides of the cake.

Pouring chocolate over top of a cake

Smooth and even it out with an offset spatula.

Smoothing out chocolate on top of a cake

Expert Tips and FAQs

I can’t stress enough how important it is to watch the cake closely during the baking of each layer. If you lose track of time and forget about the cake in the oven at any point, the cake will end up looking unevenly colored.

Slice of baumkuchen
My batter has lumps in it – what can I do?

If the marzipan isn’t fully melted or is overcooked to the point of burning, your batter may have lumps in it. If this is the case, push the batter through a sieve before using it.

My batter seems to be done at just 70 seconds, should I wait the 100 seconds?

Everyone’s oven is different. If it is done, pull it from the oven. Go by appearance, not by time.

Can I bake this in a different size springform pan?

Sure! A small springform will give you even more layers!

How long will this cake last?

I ate this cake for a full week! I kept it on the counter in an airtight container. It still tasted great one week later!

The chocolate hardened before I could smooth it all out. What can I do?

You can heat it with a culinary torch on very low heat and then smooth it out.

Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!
Slice of baumkuchen pulled out of the cake
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5 from 1 vote

Baumkuchen (German Tree Cake)

Baumkuchen is a stunning almond-flavored cake with many paper thin layers (mine has 11). While it is traditionally made on a spit, my version for home bakers can be done in the oven. It's not a cake for beginners, but if you are up for a challenge, you will be wildly rewarded with the end result. The cake is gorgeous, moist, not too sweet, and the almond flavor pairs so well with the dark chocolate topping.
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 502kcal
Author Stefani

Ingredients

  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature – this is the same as 1 cup + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 ounces marzipan
  • 3 tablespoons amaretto
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 7 1/2 ounces dark chocolate

Instructions

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in egg yolks, vanilla extract, and almond extract until frothy. Set aside.
  • Break up the marzipan and heat it in a small pot on low heat with amaretto. Stir until smooth. (You can also do this in the microwave in short bursts, but it is harder to monitor and you run the risk of burning the marzipan.)
  • Add melted marzipan to the batter and stir until full combined.
  • Mix flour, cornstarch, and baking powder together and add to the batter a little bit at a time.
  • Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. They should hold their shape when lifted with a whisk.
  • Fold egg whites into batter.
  • Turn on the broiler to 450 F and make sure to have a shelf in the middle position in the oven.
  • Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment and spread about 3 tablespoons of batter over the parchment.
  • Place in the oven until it just starts to brown. Keep a very close eye on it. In my oven, this took 100 seconds.
  • Spread the next layer of batter on top of the first one and return to the oven until that layer just starts to brown.
  • Repeat until all of the batter is used up. It should be about 11 layers.
  • Cool the cake to room temperature and then remove it from the springform.
  • Set an inverted bowl on top of a piece of parchment paper and place the cake on the bowl.
  • Pour melted chocolate over the top and down the sides of the cake. Smooth and even it out with an offset spatula.
  • Cool to room temperature then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Video

Notes

If the marzipan isn’t fully melted or overcooked to the point of burning, your batter may have lumps in it. If this is the case, push the batter through a sieve before using it.
If you don’t have a 9″ springform, it’s fine to use a different size. You will just have more or fewer layers.
If your chocolate hardens before you are done working with it, you can heat it with a culinary torch on very low heat and then smooth it.
This cake keeps for about one week in an airtight container at room temperature.
Recipe by Lilly of Lilly’s German Bakery

Nutrition

Calories: 502kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 652IU | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 3mg
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