Otaru Baumkuchen: Tree cakes with a Japanese flavor
The Jakarta Post
Craving a sweet treat? Try baumkuchen, a delight to pamper your taste buds.
Although having originated in Germany baumkuchen, a kind of layered cake, is currently one of the most popular pastries in Japan. It was brought to Japan in 1919.
Baumkuchen, dubbed “the king of cakes”, has unique golden lines which resemble growth rings on a crosscut tree. Its ingredients are typically butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and flour.
The lines appear as it is being baked on a spit by brushing on even layers of batter and then rotating the spit. Each layer is then allowed to brown before a new layer of batter is added.
When the cake is ready and sliced, each layer is divided by the golden lines. That is why it is called baumkuchen, which literary means tree cake or log cake.
Having a similar texture to Indonesia’s lapis legit, or sweet layered cake, baumkuchen is less sweet, thanks to the particular baking technique.
“The unique baking technique of this cake makes it possible to reduce the oil from the butter in the dough. As a result, baumkuchen is healthier than lapis legit because it has less sugar and fat, and without any preservatives,” says Otaru Baumkuchen cake shop owner Pitarto Lauda.
As Jakarta is not too familiar with the cake, Pitarto has been promoting baumkuchen and educating people about it for two years at his two shops in town.
The cake shop offers baumkuchen in four flavors: original (vanilla), chocolate, green tea and cappuccino. Each cake has 12 to 15 layers.
A small baumkuchen, which is 7 centimeters in diameter, is a simple bite, perfect to go with any hot beverage or chilled green tea.
The cake is packed with an oxygen absorber in a barrier packaging, making it last up to five days out of the refrigerator and two weeks in the fridge — a perfect choice for someone who loves simplicity for breakfast.
A large baumkuchen, 15 centimeters in diameter, is also perfect for a gift. The large ones are ready prepared at the shops in original flavor. Other flavors are made by request.
Heading into its third year, Pitarto decided to add more varieties.
“We are now offering four new sweet platters for dessert. They are vanilla berry, nutty triple chocolate, tiramisu delight and matcha twist,” he said.
The vanilla berry uses original baumkuchen with vanilla ice cream on top, plus slices of fresh strawberries, Otaru’s special homemade custard sauce and maple syrup. Its solid texture blends nicely with the ice cream and custard sauce.
In the Nutty Triple chocolate, Pitarto has put chocolate baumkuchen together with chocolate ice cream, slices of banana, nut jam and chocolate sauce.
“Kids always love chocolate, so we just need to have this on the menu,” said Pitarto.
Tiramisu Delight comes with chocolate ice cream, wafer, whipped cream and chocolate sauce, while matcha twist offers a healthy flavor with green tea baumkuchen, slices of kiwi, custard cream and maple syrup.
A few years ago, Pitarto and his siblings learned the baumkuchen recipe in a cake shop in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan. He then required the license to use the recipe, bought a baumkuchen rotisserie before establishing the cake shop.
As it is still a new kind of cake in the country, Pitarto has kept the recipe only among his siblings.
“We always make 600 to 800 small pieces of baumkuchen on a daily basis in our kitchen at the Kemang shop. So, it’s always fresh.”
• Jl. Kemang Raya No. 31, South Jakarta
• Plaza Indonesia, Foodhall Gourmet, Basement Level in Central Jakarta.
10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
— Photos Courtesy of Otaru Baumkuchen
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