A German pound cake of sorts, this recipe can't be missed. "Baumkuchen" translates to tree cake, because of its rings of cake when cut (like the rings in a cut tree trunk). This is a version adapted for the normal kitchen, rather than being made over a spit as is traditional. It is still time-intensive, but well worth the effort.
Brown Butter Baumkuchen
I made mine in a loaf pan (and halved the recipe), but I'm sure it's just as lovely and gorgeous in its original form for this recipe, a 10-inch round. The layers are so lovely to see when you cut into it (although I must admit, I didn't let my layers brown enough so they aren't as visible as I would have liked; stupid Nemmie impatience). The cake itself was so good: that browned flavor from the butter, the rum comes out nicely, and the apricot glaze gives it that little extra sweetness and charm. This is an adorable cake, it makes a great presentation, and the flavors are sooo good to boot. Definitely a keeper of a recipe - although admitedly, only when I have hours to stand in front of the oven!
(from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking, 2003)
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
9 large eggs
1/4 c. water
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tbsp. dark rum
1 1/4 c. cake flour, sifted 3 times
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 c. apricot jelly
1/2 c. water
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 Tbsp. apricot jelly
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. milk
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 425 F. Adjust the rack to the upper part of the oven. Spray the bottom only of a 10-x-3-inch round cake pan or two 9-x-2-inch pans with cooking spray. Line each with a circle of parchment paper and spray the paper. Place the prepared pans inside empty cake pans if you have enough cake pans. This prevents the outside of the cake from browning too much.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the solids separate and begin to brown on the bottom of the pan, about 7 minutes. When this happens, turn off the heat and set the butter aside to cool slightly. It should remain liquid.
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Combine the sugar, eggs, water, nutmeg and rum in the bowl of your standing mixer or another metal bowl and place it over the simmering water, creating a double boiler, being careful that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Insert a thermometer. Whisk continuously until the temperature reaches 110 F, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and transfer the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer. Whip on high speed for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the eggs are three times their original volume, are thick and pale yellow in color, and form a ribbon when drizzled from a spatula. Turn down the mixer to medium speed and whip for 2 minutes more. This stabilized the foam. Fold in the cream and browned butter. Be sure to scrape all the browned butter bits in. Carefully scrape the batter into a large, wide bowl.
Fold in the flour using a balloon whisk, being careful not to deflate the foam.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of the batter into the prepared pan or pans, enough to coat the pan (or pans) in a thin layer. Keep the remaining batter away from the stove's heat so that it doesn't deflate. Bake for 7 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove it from the oven and pour another 1 to 1 1/2 cups of batter on top. Return the cake pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the top is golden brown. Repeat until all the batter has been used. Once the final layer has been baked, remove the cake from the oven and immediately turn it out of the pan onto a rack set over a sheet of aluminum foil. Stack one cake on top of the other.
For the apricot glaze:
Combine the apricot jelly and water in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the jelly is liquefied. While the cake is still hot, brush the top and sides with the apricot glaze. Let cake cool completely, at least 1 hour before applying ganache glaze.
For the ganache glaze:
Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-in. pieces and place3 it in a medium heat-proof bowl.
Warm the apricot jelly in a small saucepan over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until melted. Whisk in the cream, milk, and corn syrup. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil.
Pour the hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, then let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
When all the chocolate has melted, insert a thermometer. The temperature should be 90 F for best glazing results. If the temperature is too low, place the bowl over a saucepan half full of simmering water, creating a double boiler, and gently stir until the thermometer reads 90 F. If the temperature is too high, occasionally stir the ganache off the heat until it is ready to be poured. Glazing should be done as soon as the ganache reaches 90 F for maximum viscosity.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and place a cooling rack on top. Position the cake on the cooling rack. The ganache will flow over the cake, through the cooling rack, and onto the baking sheet below.
When the ganache is at 90 F, pour all the warm ganache onto the top of the cake, directly in the center. The speed and weight of the pouring ganache will push itself over the edges, coated the sides of the cake. If some spots are left uncoated, carefully lift the cooling rack and swirl the cake gently to coax the ganache into place. Give the rack a couple of gentle taps on the counter to send any remaining ganache over the edge. Let the cake sit for 5 minutes at room temperature to settle before serving.