Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why, what's this bag?

Why, it appears to be a cake!

An hours-old, hand-made baumkuchen from a generations-old recipe and a generations-old oven!

This photos are of the cake I got from the Cake Box, taken right after I left. I need to reiterate that it was way tastier than its machine-made Japanese counterparts.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

On Scalability, Infinite

Anyone with an obsession will get asked, "Why?" It's unavoidable. I don't have a great answer for why I love rotisserie cakes. However, I've got a few rationalizations: the novelty, the effort required, the infinite scalability.

Infinite scalability?

Yeah, this is the one that I have had the hardest time explaining to people. The diameter of your rotisserie cake is limited only by how tall your baking area is. The length of your rotisserie cake is limited only by how long your baking area is. We could theoretically build incredibly long ovens, churning out fifty-foot-long spitcakes, and/or incredibly voluminous ovens, producing cake monsters that are wider than you are tall. Giant cakes.

I never had a really good picture to illustrate this concept, until tonight. Ethan R. found the picture that I've always wanted (but never thought existed). It's part of a story about Lithuanians (my people!) baking a world-record Šakotis. Šakotis is the Lithuanian rotisserie cake! The primary difference between it and baumkuchen is that šakotis batter is dribbled unevenly onto a conical form, and baumkuchen batter is brushed evenly onto a cylindrical form. But I digress.

Look at that. It is the 67.4 kg (148.6 lb), 2.3 m long (7.5 ft), .5 m diameter (1.6 ft) triumph of pastrydom.

Original article

Returned from Cake Box

Cake Box is a fantastic place. A very European shop with very European service. I immediately purchased a large chunk of chocolate-glazed baumkuchen, then spent about twenty minutes just chatting with the proprietors. Chef Paul Gauweiler is probably the only Baumkuchen artisan within 2000 kilometers, and I got to chat with him and his wife/sous-chef! They were unabashedly excited to learn that there are youths who want to keep the traditional Baumkuchen-making methods alive.

Their baumkuchen oven, an 80 year old dual-gas-electric machine, sits in the corner of the shop, in plain view. They wouldn't let me take pictures, but it did look an awful lot like a 55-gallon metal drum slit lengthwise.

Anyway, the cake. It was much moister than the flatkuchen Eidolon and I made earlier, but the flavor was about the same (in other words, phenomenal). The layers were just a wee bit thinner than ours were, but still much larger and more uneven than the Japanese machine-made ones. Overall, it makes me think that I could make Baumkuchen if I really tried!