There is an odd looking machine that quietly sits in the back of one pastry lab at Johnson and Wales.It’s made of all metal and is rusty and looks very well-used.Sense starting school a year ago I have always wondered what it was used for.This week I finally had the chance to find out.
The Baumkuchen machine.
The machine is used to make Baumkuchen; a popular European cake.My chef, Johannes Busch, informed me about the machine and the history of baumkuchen.The baumkuchen machine is one of only five in the entire U.S. and JWU is lucky to have one here.The origin of the cake is not entirely known, but is believed to started in Greece as the rotisserie style cake is similar to the Greek style of cooking meats on a spit.
To make the cake you start by pouring the batter into a tray that sits under the spit.The oven is preheated and the spit is covered with foil.There is a space under the oven where the front is open so that the batter doesn’t get too hot and bake before being brushed onto the spit.
The tray filled with Baumkuchen batter.
Chef Johannes Busch brushing more batter onto the cake.
The batter is then brushed on one layer at a time until the cake is finished.You then let the oven cool and continue to let the cake spin to make sure the cake cools evenly and doesn’t fall off the spit.Once the cake is cooled you can then brush on your favorite glaze or chocolate.Our class unanimously decided that a coating of dark chocolate would taste the best.
Chef Busch painting dark chocolate onto the cake.
Once finished with the cake, it is cut into rings and enjoyed.The cake has a dense almond taste and the way it is made by painting on layers gives the cake an almost wood-grain appearance.While there is no place to buy this cake in the U.S. it remains to be a popular traditional treat in Europe.