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In this picture, the circular layers are (barely) visible as vertical stripes on the cut surfaces.

Known as the "King of Cakes,"[1] the Baumkuchen is a kind of layered cake, known in many countries throughout Europe. When cut, the cake reveals the characteristic golden rings that give it its German name, Baumkuchen, which literally translates to "tree cake". To get the ring effect, a thin layer of batter is brushed evenly onto a spit and allowed to bake until golden, after which the process is repeated. The most skilled bakers will repeat the process numerous times. Some bakers have been known to create 3-foot (0.91 m) long Baumkuchen consisting of 25 layers and weighing over 100 pounds (45 kg).

A simpler horizontally layered version of the cake also exists. It is baked without a spit and it thus does not have circular rings but horizontal layers. To make this variant, a thin layer of batter is spread in a baking tin, then baked, after which the next layer is added, and so forth. The horizontally layered version results in a Baumkuchen that is more similar in shape to conventional cakes. The horizontally layered version can also be baked in a conventional household oven, whereas the spit version requires special equipment normally not available in an average household. However, unlike with the spit variant, the horizontal layers are not quite as reminiscent of tree growth rings.

Baumkuchen may be covered with sugar or chocolate glaze. With some recipes, the fully baked and cooled Baumkuchen is first coated with marmalade or jam, and then covered with chocolate.

The cake requires some level of skill to bake and can get messy if made in the traditional way (on a spit).

It is highly disputed who made the first Baumkuchen and where it was first baked. Traditionally the town of Salzwedel and the Master Baker for the Prussian King have been associated with its creation in the year 1790.

Baumkuchen is one of the most popular pastries in Japan, where it is called バウムクーヘン (baumukūhen) or often erroneously バームクーヘン (bāmukūhen). It was first introduced to Japan by a German WWI prisoner of war Karl Joseph Wilhelm Juchheim in 1919.

Baumkuchen (called Baamkuch) has also become a traditional dish in Luxembourg, where it is served mostly on special occasions like weddings.

A quite interesting version of Baumkuchen is Lithuanian šakotis, which is distinctive by its shape. Šakotis is made by pouring liquid dough on a rotating spit. Known in Poland as Sękacz.

Related cakes are the Swedish Spettekaka (turnspit cake), the Hungarian kürtőskalács, and the Slovak skalický trdelník, all of which are baked on a spit over open fire.

German "Baumkuchenspitzen"
A cut Baumkuchenspitze that shows the ring-like structure.
Baumkuchen baked on a spit


  1. ^ German Agricultural Marketing Board (2009). "Baumkuchen: A Curtsy To The King of Cakes." Retrieved Feb. 16, 2009, from


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