How is a Baumkuchen actually baked? Which ingredients are pure and can anyone bake Baumkuchen? We get asked these kinds of questions a lot and we don’t like to leave any questions unanswered. Below you’ll find the story of how a Baumkuchen is made, from birth to bite.
Baumkuchen as a supreme discipline
This is true as long as the Baumkuchen is made by hand and not industrially. Unlike other baked goods which are baked in the oven, a Baumkuchen is created in continuous interaction with the Baumkuchen baker.
The Baumkuchen is applied layer by layer on a rotating roller and baked individually. This not only gives it its unique tree-ring look and ultimately its name (“tree cake”), but also its unmistakable flavour through the multiple baking process of the individual rings.
In our manufactory, we attach great importance to baking our Baumkuchen creations as high-quality as possible. To make this possible, we use the most modern machines and the best and most honest ingredients to bring our popular and award-winning Baumkuchen to life using traditional handwork.
It all starts with a good dough
You can easily taste the difference between artisanal Baumkuchen and the industrial products you can find in the supermarket. This is all thanks to the dough.
Artisanal production usually leaves out the additives and preservatives and favours healthy ingredients. The dough needs to have the right consistency to apply the thin layers on the rotating roller. The layers mustn’t become too heavy, otherwise the outer layers won’t adhere and will fall off during the baking process.
The dough is what makes the difference for a hand-baked Baumkuchen, which is noticeable in the smell, the feel, the individuality of the baked rings and, of course, the taste.
By the way, at GROCH & ERBEN we still make our Baumkuchen dough according to the original recipe by Maria Groch from 1819: “4 pounds of butter, 4-and-a-bit pounds of sugar, pounded and sifted by yourself, 3 pounds starch, 50 eggs, grated peel and lemon juice, 3 sticks of vanilla, 3/4 pounds of peeled, grated almonds, 1/4 bitter almonds and a little salt”. For our many extraordinary Baumkuchen creations, our recipe book now includes a small family album.
Finest shift work is a baking art
When the dough is ready, it’s baked out layer by layer on a rotating roller. What used to happen over an open fire is now made possible thanks to devices specially made for Baumkuchen which are significantly more hygienic and offer uniform heating.
A rotating roller, usually about one metre long, is lowered into a basin with the Baumkuchen dough, sheathed with a thin layer and then baked on a heating element. While the outside of the layer turns golden brown, the dough inside the respective layer remains loose and light. Layer by layer, this procedure eventually leads to the ring appearance. Their irregular structure corresponds to the tree rings in nature and represents the time-consuming manual work needed. Each Baumkuchen is unique and, depending on the confectioner, it can consist of around ten to twenty layers.
Around a quarter of the way through, after coating with the dough, a serrated sheet is applied to the Baumkuchen rotating on the roller. The dough is removed at the prongs, creating the typical wavy ring structure of the Baumkuchen. This is called “kämmen” (“combing”) the Baumkuchen. It takes a lot of skill and experience to apply and bake out the individual layers evenly and to ensure an even ring structure with the comb.
Each tree has its rings - The finishing
After baking, the Baumkuchen rests and cools down on the roller. Depending on the production, the Baumkuchen is now cut into individual rings and pushed off the roller.
The rings are then covered with chocolate or a sugar glaze (also called fondant). This is often done by machine. In artisanal production, however, the Baumkuchen often gets its glaze or chocolate shell on the rotating roller.
At GROCH & ERBEN, we refine how baking is done by hand. We use the finest raw materials like delicious Belgian chocolate. We do not use preservatives or artificial flavours. Our Baumkuchen are evenly wrapped on the roller and divided into Baumkuchen with one, two or three rings, depending on the size.
The Final Chord - Delivery, Storage & Tasting
Artisanal Baumkuchen should be eaten fresh and within three to four weeks after production, especially if they’re made without preservatives. Otherwise, after a few weeks of storage, the Baumkuchen will slowly dry out and lose its taste. Storage in a cool, dark place is recommended. If you’ve ordered a natural Baumkuchen without coating, you should consume it as soon as possible after the purchase or delivery.
About an hour before consumption, the Baumkuchen should be removed from the package and left to breathe at room temperature. This is how its taste best comes out.
Our Baumkuchen are never produced in stock. They go into online shipping or sale by our dealers immediately after production. The focus is on handwork and an individual touch all the way up to the end. Each of our products is packed by people instead of machines – this ensures we can take a close look at the quality from the beginning to the end. A card with the personal signature of the packager stands for the pride of our team on each individual product.