A German specialty dubbed the "king of cakes," Baumkuchen is particularly popular at Christmastime. This tall dessert is comprised of many thin cake layers that resemble a tree's growth rings. Baumkuchen translates as "tree (baum) cake (kuchen)." It takes a master baker to make this labor-intensive cake in the traditional way, which is to spoon a sponge cake batter over a revolving oven spit, one layer at a time, browning each layer before adding the next. Today, other pans are sometimes used; one method is to brush a thin layer of batter onto the bottom of a springform pan, bake it for 2 to 3 minutes, then brush on another layer of batter and bake, and so on. Baumkuchen is traditionally enrobed in a thin chocolate glaze, though vanilla or other flavors may be used.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.