The January 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Francijn of “Koken in de Brouwerij”. She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).
Me oh my, how I loved this challenge! I was dreading it because I thought it would be difficult but it wasn’t! I wanted to go all out and use cheesecake or a chocolate cake recipe got decided to go simpler since I had never used my oven’s broiler function and I had never made any cakes using the Schichttorte technique of smearing thin layers of batter on top of each other, and baking them one by one, so creating a layered cake structure.
I adapted the recipe provided by Francijn and made some minor changes. First of all, I cut the recipe to a 1/4th because I didn’t want a large cake that ended up being horrible just in case I messed it up. I did a lot of recipe research and decided to use Marzipan because I didn’t have almond paste and did not feel like making one.
The recipe I ended up with is this:
2 medium eggs, separated
3 TBSP confectioner’s sugar
4 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
2.5 TBSP Sugar
0.5 TSP Caramel flavoring
1.5 TBSP half & half
2.5 TBSP Cake Flour (1.3 OZ)
2.5 TBSP Marzipan (1.3 OZ)
4.5 x 1.5 mini springform pan
I figured the easiest way to do it was to have everything measured out and within arms reach or as the french would say mise en place. Let me tell you, you’ll start to feel real fancy when you get into baking because of all the french words used to describe various techniques, it’s awesome!
I used 4 bowls total! That is apparently great since this recipe can be quite devastating to your kitchen sink 😉
Separate the eggs and let them sit out and come to room temperature.
Let butter sit at room temperature and soften up.
Measure out your marzipan. I used a food scale because that was easier than trying to measure it in tablespoons.
Mix marzipan with hand mixer on medium speed, adding half & half, one tablespoon at a time.
Once it’s combined, beat in the butter until incorporated. It should look like a really thick cake batter.
Mix in the confectioner’s sugar then add the egg yolks.
When that is a cohesive batter, pour in the caramel(or vanilla) flavoring and mix.
Sift in the flour until fully incorporated.
Clean the whisks on your one and only hand mixer or; if you’re a hoarder or baking equipment shopaholic, like someone else I know; use your second-hand mixer to beat the egg whites until foamy (about 2 minutes). Slowly sprinkle in the sugar while beating the eggs on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes until a stiff peak is formed(when you pull the whisk out and turn it upside down, the egg tip should remain upright).
Fold the egg whites into the marzipan batter.
Now, for the fun part!!
Turn on the broiler and set it to low.
While it’s warming up, grease the pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper and grease that as well.
Have your timer set on 6 minutes and ready to go. Using your phone will make the timing go a lot faster.
Spread 2 Tbsp of batter in the bottom of the pan using a silicon pastry brush.
Place in the broiler, start the timer. Watch it closely. Don’t be afraid to let it brown (like really brown) I was scared so once I saw some color on it, I pulled it out and brushed on the next layer. Due to that, you can’t really see my layers.
Add another 2 Tbsp of batter and brush on. Broil as before and continue until all the batter is gone.
It took about 1.5 hrs minutes total for my 15 beautiful layers! And boy oh boy was it worth it!
While the cake cools, make the buttercream.
8 Tbsp Butter
3/4 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1 tsp Caramel Flavoring
Pinch of salt
Whip butter with salt until it is pale yellow, almost white
Mix in caramel flavoring
Start adding your powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until you reach the desired sweetness.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Heat a bar of chocolate for about 30 seconds in the microwave.
Use vegetable peeler to shave curls onto the wax paper.
Place curls in the fridge or a cool dry place to harden.
Cover Baumkuchen with buttercream and cover the top with chocolate curls.