Saturday, September 26, 2015

FINALLY, rotisserie cake!

I did it. I baked a cake on a rotisserie.

Let me cut right to the chase: why hadn't I done this yet? I don't have a very good reason. Many many years ago, I thought I'd have to mod a kitchen rotisserie to put out more heat, but Klaus Taesler showed me that wasn't the case. Since then, it's just been my hesitation and equivocation. It's hard to justify buying bulky kitchen appliances that rarely get used (what Alton Brown calls "unitaskers"). Then, not too long ago, I realized, if there's anyone who can justify buying a rotisserie for cake, it would be me!

A little time on Craigslist later, and I had a George Jr. rotisserie! This one's not the same as the Baby George rotisserie I obtained many years ago. This George Jr. is larger and gets hotter than the Baby George, both good things. Besides, Baby George is thousands of miles away in my parents' garage.

All told, the process wasn't as tough as I'd thought, and the result was great! I used the portions from retired engineer Wayne Schmidt's page. A bit embarrassing to publish a recipe in imperial units, but here we go:

INGREDIENTS (in chronological order)

  • 1.5 sticks (12 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 shot brandy (I used apple brandy, Klaus Taesler uses cherry brandy)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 10 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar


  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar.
  2. With mixers on low, add egg yolks one or two at a time.
  3. Add brandy, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Sift in flour and cornstarch until uniform.
  5. Wash your mixing apparatus. We're gonna make a meringue, so we have to keep all the oils away.
  6. In a medium or large bowl, beat the egg whites with mixers on high. Beat until the whites have roughly doubled in size.
  7. Add the 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until you reach medium-to-stiff peaks.
  8. Fold the meringue into the other ingredients in 3 or 4 stages. Fold just until the mix is homogeneous.
  9. Wrap the baumtüber in foil. If desired, bind with butcher's twine as if it were a porchetta.
  10. Turn on the rotisserie and let the baumtüber come to temperature.

As you've probably gathered, I live-tweeted the whole process, which was fun. Each layer took 3-6 minutes, depending on how distracted I got. Some layers got browner, others did not. As a result, the layering is irregular and very subtle. No tree-rings.

But how did it taste? In a word: delightful. The texture of the layers stands out as the most noticeable feature in your mouth. The taste is pound-cakey but less sweet (again, perfect for pairing with coffee, tea, chocolate, jam, milk, &c., &c...). But it is quite dry! This is something I noticed in Klaus' counter-top-rotisserie cake as well. Cooking the layers at a lower temperature means they dry out more. I think the brandy also contributed to the dryness. Time to experiment and find out!

Finally, please enjoy a video of me pouring batter while listening to DJ Robert Drake on WXPN: