Baumkuchen

The origins of baumkuchen, a traditional German cake, can be traced back into the distant past. A confectioner cannot earn the title of Meister (pastry chef) before completely mastering all the processes involved in the production of baumkuchen, from preparing the batter to baking it into a beautiful and delicious baumkuchen.

Known as “Der Konig der Kuchen” (“The King of Cakes”) in Germany, baumkuchen is a very special cake and is also used as the symbol of the German Confectionery Association.

Karl Juchheim was the first German confectioner ever to bake this baumkuchen in Japan.

Taking over Karl’s business, Juchheim has continued to bake baumkuchen with a history of more than 100 years. As the first company to produce baumkuchen here in Japan, Juchheim knows all there is to know about baumkuchen.

The First Baumkuchen Baked in Japan

Karl Juchheim, the founder of our company, baked the first baumkuchen, “The King of German Cakes”, in Japan.

Karl was managing a pastry shop in Tsingtao, China when he was captured by the Japanese Army which had advanced into the region during the First World War. Together with many other Germans, he was sent to Ninoshima Island of Hiroshima Prefecture. In 1919, Karl baked and sold baumkuchen at an exhibition of goods manufactured by the war prisoners of the Ninoshima Island internment camp, which was held at the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition (today’s Atomic Bomb Dome). Baking the baumkuchen was a painstaking and time-consuming process, brushing on layers of batter over an oak spit which he rotated by hand. Every single layer of the cake was produced with Karl’s pride as a German national and his passion for cakes. This was the first baumkuchen baked in Japan. The Japanese who visited the exhibition were astounded by the light, moist texture and delicious flavor, and his baumkuchen sold out in no time. After he was released from the internment camp, he opened a pastry shop in Japan. The baumkuchen always displayed on the shelves used to be called “pyramid cake” back then, and Karl would precisely slice the cakes into pieces of various sizes as requested by each customer, never relying on a ruler. In the 1960s, the name “pyramid cake” fell out of use and the cake became known as “baumkuchen”, a term which spread throughout Japan.

Ever since Karl first baked this cake right through to today, baumkuchen remains highly popular among many, many people in Japan.
The key to this success is that Karl’s expertise has been faithfully passed down by the Meisters working at Juchheim.
Furthermore, the policy of using only pure, genuine ingredients to produce the authentic, delicious flavor has also been handed down over the one hundred years since the company was founded.

The main store at the time of its establishment.

Rows of baumkuchen cakes arranged on the rear shelves.

1960
Baumkuchen produced during the 1960s.
Rows of baumkuchen cakes arranged on the rear shelves.
1970
Baumkuchen produced in 1970.
An old German castle was used as the symbol on the package.
1978
A botanical motif was used for the package design.
1983
A tin package was very popular for 21 years between 1983 and 2003.
2003
The tin package which had been used for many years was changed to a paper package in 2003.
2004
In 2004, Juchheim’s logo and package were redesigned by the Peter Schmidt Group, a German design studio.
2009
To commemorate the 100th anniversary since Juchheim’s foundation, the logo and package were redesigned in 2009.

What Is Good for the Body Tastes Good

Ever since its foundation, Juchheim has continued to adhere to its policy of producing cakes and sweets without using unnecessary additives.

The main ingredients are eggs, sugar, butter and wheat flour. No additives such as emulsifiers or baking powder are used.

The delicious flavor of Juchheim products is the same today as when the firm was founded thanks to the use of only the finest ingredients, the expertise of the confectioners, and the adherence when baking to Karl and Elise Juchheim’s belief that: “What is good for the body tastes good.”

EGG

Each layer of the baumkuchen is made with soft batter, which is produced by whisking the egg yolk and egg white separately (separate egg method). The emulsifying property (which helps to mix water and oil) of the egg yolk and the foaminess of the egg white produce a soft and fluffy batter.

SUGAR

At Juchheim, granulated sugar is used in most of its products. Granulated sugar, which is used principally in Europe, is indispensable for making cakes to impart a sweet taste without changing the flavor. However, in the case of baumkuchen, superfine sugar and liquid sugar are used to produce the moist texture. Superfine sugar and liquid sugar, which have a relatively high moisture content, play a big part in producing the soft and moist texture unique to baumkuchen.

BUTTER

At Juchheim, we make a point of using an exclusive butter made from fresh milk. Mild-tasting butter produced without fermenting the milk with lactic acid bacterium is commonly used in Japan, and we use the top grade of this type of butter.

WHEAT FLOUR

Wheat flour comes in three types: weak flour, all-purpose flour, and strong flour. Weak flour is used mostly for baking cakes and sweets; it is produced by milling soft wheat, and is characterized by its low gluten content. When kneading flour with water added to it, the batter becomes viscous due to the gluten. Sugar and fat have the effect of weakening gluten, so mixing them together with the flour results in a softer batter.

The King of German Cakes

Germans are said to enjoy taking walks in the woods throughout the year, regardless of the season. Forests, which vividly show the transition of the four seasons, are an invaluable part of nature for the German people. The country is covered with forests, so it is not surprising that German people have created sweets associated with the woods.

The German word “baumkuchen” literally means a “tree cake”, which is widely believed to be because the baked layers resemble tree rings. Another version of the origin of the name baumkuchen is that an oak spit was used for baking the cake. Traditionally, the oak tree was considered a special tree and symbolized the forests of Germany, but in fact lime trees had long been popular in Germany. While the lime tree was considered to be “a symbol of love, adoration and kindness”, the oak tree was regarded as “a symbol of robustness and strength”.

Owing partly to this association with the oak tree, baumkuchen is indeed the King of German cakes. The baumkuchen is the symbol of the German Confectionery Association, and confectioners in Germany are only deemed full-fledged confectioners when they have mastered the production of fine baumkuchen.

Over 90 years ago in 1919, Karl Juchheim baked the first baumkuchen in Japan. This was also the golden age of baumkuchen in Germany, and gourmets regarded it as a very special cake. Bismarck was one such gourmet.

It was a well-known fact that Bismarck, a politician of the 19th century, was a connoisseur of fine food. Many dishes named after Bismarck have been passed down to this day, such as marinated Bismarck herring.

Bismarck was especially fond of Baumkuchen Spitz, which are adorable baumkuchen cakes cut into small portions, with jam fillings and coated with chocolate glaze.