Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Interlude - Kek Lapis Sarawak

It's finals time and I've almost graduated from high school, so baumkuchen machining has been shelved for now. However! I have made minor progress. I now have a working propane camp stove which, despite having a lame burner, might have the regulator I need. I also learned that one of my Internet Friends has a grandmother with an antique German baumkuchen oven that she still uses from time to time. More will come of these developments later.

For now, however, I have an interlude. You see, baumkuchen isn't the only cake baked in a special way. It's not even the only cake baked on a rotisserie: similar or nearly identical cakes exist in Serbian, Croatian, Swedish, Lithuanian, and Czech cultures. Other cakes not made in the traditional manner (I really need a better term for that, don't I?) include cakes resembling flatkuchen or cake-rings molded to make giant cake cornucopias with fruit inside. Even others, such as Vietnamese bánh, are steamed or fried.

But possibly the most impressive untraditional cake (Hey, "untraditional cake". That's kind of an okay term. Maybe I'll think of a better one before the end of the post.) is the Malaysian Kek Lapis Sarawak. It is many precisely cut layers of cake cemented together to make a smartly arranged pattern or picture. The woman responsible for making these famous, Rabiah Amit, has already published three recipe books. They're all in Malay but dammit, it is tempting to buy them! If I could learn to make these and good baumkuchen I could become an untraditional cake messiah.

(Original image from www.keklapissarawak.com)

How does it taste? Well, I'm assuming it tastes similar to its simpler English variant, Battenberg cake, a tea cake which I have made a few times and which I can assure you is terrific. It bodes well for Kek Lapis Sarawak.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Dream.

I envision a day where I could have a baumkuchen oven in the back of, say, a Chevy Astro.

You know, like an ice cream truck, except selling cake instead of drugs.

Bakeries/pastry shops seem like they would be pretty easy to make portable; one could use a similar vehicle setup for regular cakes, hotcakes, cookies, breads, &c. These would probably be better suited for a confined space like a van because the ovens can be smaller, but I still think this would be the best way to introduce baumkuchen to the most people.

There's not much content I can add right now. Craigslist has offered up a few potential parts sources that I will check out this weekend.