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Baumkuchen (German Tree Cake)

Get ready to indulge in this decadent homemade Baumkuchen or German Christmas tree cake. Translating to tree cake in German, this German layer cake is similar to a French crêpe cake and is popular during the Christmas (Weihnachten) season. I love this easy recipe for its authentic flavor and rich tradition!

Baumkuchen on a wooden board next to a log and foliage.
Table of contents

For more traditional German recipes check out my Rahmkuchenplum streusel cakeStreuselkuchen, Schokokuchen, and soft pretzels.

German vs. Japanese tree cakes

This chocolate-glazed Baumkuchen is one of those must-try, traditional German cakes I know you will love. Though its origin is from Germany, especially in the Harz region and town of Salzwedel, this popular spit cake has also found its way to the hearts of those in Japan. In Japan, the rings are a sign or symbol of prosperity and longevity.

By baking the tree cake in a ring tin you can create the traditional Baumkuchen shape at home although the layers will run lengthways rather than vertically. When baked on a spit, the layers form on the outer edges rather than the top when you’re baking at home but nevertheless, the delicious rich, and moist cake will taste the same. Alternatively, you can make the Baumkuchen in a standard loaf or round cake tin.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Stores well for up to two weeks
  • Although time-intensive, this is an easy-to-follow recipe
  • Staple ingredients only, no marzipan required
  • Perfect for family get-togethers and holiday celebrations


  • Eggs – Make sure the eggs have been left at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using them in this recipe.
  • Butter – You will need unsalted butter for both the cake batter and the chocolate glaze.
  • Almond extract – Adds a delicate almond flavor to the cake. You can also use Amaretto.
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar is best used for this recipe.
  • FlourAll-purpose flour works well for this recipe and so does white spelt flour.
  • Cornstarch – It helps tenderize the cake’s crumb.
  • Baking powder – Use baking powder to help the batter rise when baked.
  • Chocolate – For best results use dark chocolate. If you prefer milk chocolate, you can use that instead.

How to make Baumkuchen at home

1. Begin by separating the egg whites from the yolks and setting aside in a small bowl.

2. Make the batter by creaming the butter, almond extract, and sugar. Add two eggs and yolks and mix until they’re well incorporated.

3. Next add in the dry ingredients, the flour, cornflour, and the baking powder. Mix until just combined.

4. Whip the egg whites and gently fold in egg whites. You don’t want to over-mix the batter.

5. In a preheated oven to 400F (200C), pour one layer of batter into a greased ring tin. Bake the layer for 3-5 minutes and remove when it is golden brown. Remove from the oven, add another layer, and repeat the process until all layers are baked.

6. Once baked, let the cake completely cool. Melt the chocolate and butter together until a smooth glaze is created and glaze the cake.

Baumkuchen on a wooden board next to a log and foliage.


  • Let Ingredients reach room temperature: Set the butter and the eggs out about 30 minutes before to baking. This will allow the ingredients to mix well together. Room-temperature eggs also help the cake rise properly.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: You’ll want to make sure you don’t over-mix the batter. Over-mixing adds air into the batter, this can cause the cake to not back properly or evenly. You will also want to make sure you fold the egg whites gently.
  • Let the cake cool completely: As tempting as it may be, you need to make sure the cake is completely cooled before adding the glaze. If it’s too hot, the glaze won’t stick and set.


Traditionally this layer cake is served with a dark chocolate glaze over the top. Here are some other suggestions that you may enjoy.

  1. Whipped cream: Instead of glazing the Baumkuchen, add a dollop of whipped cream or mascarpone cream to the top of each slice of cake. The creaminess will pair well with the almond flavors of the cake.
  2. Milk Chocolate: The glaze for this cake uses dark chocolate. Use creamy milk chocolate instead for a sweeter taste.
  3. White Chocolate: Instead of dark chocolate you can also try melting white chocolate and butter to make a glaze.
  4. Amaretto: Pierce the cake before glazing it and infuse it with a shot of amaretto for a richer almond flavor.
  5. Baumkuchenspitzen: Cut into small pieces or wedges and individually glazed, Baumkuchenspitzen are a popular way to enjoy this traditional German Christmas cake.

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What is the origin of Baumkuchen?

Baumkuchen, meaning “tree cake” in German, is believed to have originated in medieval Europe. It’s commonly associated with Germany, where it became a popular treat due to its intricate layering resembling the rings of a tree. It is also popular in Japanese bakeries.

How is Baumkuchen made?

Traditionally Baumkuchen is a labor-intensive cake made by layering thin coats of batter onto a rotating spit, which is gradually cooked and browned under a broiler. Each layer is briefly cooked before the next is added, creating a distinctive ringed appearance. This meticulous process adds to the cake’s characteristic texture and flavor. This is an easier recipe you can make in the comfort of your home.

What does Baumkuchen taste like?

Baumkuchen is a unique blend of flavors and textures. Its caramelized exterior is slightly crisp, while the inner layers are tender and moist. The cake is subtly sweet with hints of almond, with a dark chocolate glaze. Its intricate layering results in a cake that’s visually stunning and delicious.


Baumkuchen on a wooden board next to a log and foliage.

Baumkuchen (German Tree Cake)

Caro Jensen
Although time intensive, this is an easy-to-follow, authentic Baumkuchen recipe, also known as German tree cake. No marzipan required!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine German
Servings 16 servings
Calories 288 kcal


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Chocolate Glaze

  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter


  • Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C and switch on the grill function. Grease a 10 inch ring mold pan with butter.
  • Make the Baumkuchen batter by creaming 1 cup butter, 1 1/2 tsp almond extract, and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
    1 cup butter, 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Add 2 eggs and yolks of 4 eggs, separated. Mix until they're well incorporated.
    2 eggs, 4 eggs, separated
  • Add in the dry ingredients, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, and 2 tsp baking powder. Mix until just combined.
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 2 tsp baking powder
  • Whip 4 eggs, separated and gently fold in egg whites. You don't want to over-mix the batter.
    4 eggs, separated
  • Pour one layer (3-4 tablespoons) of batter into a greased ring tin. Bake the layer for 3-5 minutes and remove when it is golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and add another layer and repeat the process until all layers are baked. Depending on the size of your pan and the thickness of the layers you'll end up with about 8-10 layers.
  • Once baked, let the cake completely cool.
  • To make the chocolate glaze, break 100 g dark chocolate into small pieces and put it in a small bowl along with 1 tbsp butter. Using the double boiling method, place the bowl over simmering water, making sure it doesn't touch the water. Melt the chocolate and butter while stirring constantly. Remove the glaze from the heat and add it to the Baumkuchen straight away. You can have a smooth glaze or create a bark-like pattern using a brush or fork.
    100 g dark chocolate, 1 tbsp butter


Check out the cream-colored box in the article for more tips on how to make this Baumkuchen.


Calories: 288kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 4gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 202mgPotassium: 85mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 468IUCalcium: 64mgIron: 2mg
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