german


Baumkuchen
Photo by Ben Rhau

One night last week, I sat at home wondering about wedding presents. It was the night before two of my friends were to be married at City Hall and I had no good ideas. The wedding was to be minimal and casual (both the bride and groom are from Germany and they are planning to have a more elaborate celebration back home later on), so good ol’ standbys like blenders and fancy plates just seemed wrong. In fact, the “reception” would just be a bunch of friends drinking at a bar, so imagine how out-of-place a gift of say, a giant silver serving platter would have been. Then suddenly, a brilliant idea!! I will bake them a cake!

Off I go, then, to search for some sort of German wedding cake recipe on the internet and that’s how I came upon Baumkuchen or to us Americans, “Tree Cake”. Apparently known as the “King of Cakes” (not to be confused with King Cake), this multi-layered cake is usually baked on this crazy, spit-like contraption that some professional bakeries have that result in a cylindrical cake with rings in it like a tree. While I might be an engineer, I’m also not about to fashion a spit in my kitchen and risk personal (and Nathan-al) injury. So thank goodness there’s a revised version where the layers are built vertically in a cake pan – even someone as clumsy as me can manage that!

This cake was so delicious and so much fun to make that I’m sure I’ll do it again sometime, for another special occasion. Except, next time, I won’t underestimate the amount of time this recipe takes and will start before 11pm. That is, unless I’m mentally prepared to stay up until 2am again.

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kuchen

Happy holidays, everyone!

For me, the holiday season is all about OD-ing on baking. There’s really nothing like the smell of goodies baking in the oven to make your house feel Christmas-y.

Lucky for us, this holiday season is also about serious cleaning, since there are little dust bunnies hanging out in the corners of the rooms. Thus I’ll get straight to the point (so Nathan doesn’t end up cleaning the whole house before I get off the computer) and give you the recipe for a festive, yet super-easy, German apple and cranberry cake. Because it’s German, you can sound all snooty and call it a kuchen, if you wish. Sadly, there is no umlaut over that ‘u’.

This recipe is adapted from the one on Amatuer Gourmet, which itself was taken from the French Laundry cookbook. Coincidentally, if you want the bragging rights for actually cooking something out of that crazy book, this is probably one of your best options.

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