Baumkuchen: the German cake that’s big in Japan

06 Apr 2018 in Food Culture

How did a German cake become more popular in Japan than in its home country? We explain all!


Baumkuchen is a ring-shaped layer cake that’s a household name in Japan. Prestigious shops sell it in fancy boxes. Cafés serve it as an afternoon delicacy. And if you visit a Japanese person’s home, you may well be served a slice along with green tea.


Making baumkuchen is a time-consuming business, with layer upon layer of batter brushed on and slowly cooked on a rotating spit. As a result, the cake has multiple concentric rings, resembling a tree trunk (baumkuchen means “tree cake” in German).


For the Japanese, this makes it a symbol of prosperity and longevity. And, as it’s hollow in the middle, it resembles a ring – which is why it’s the ultimate wedding “return gift” in Japan.


So, why is a German cake so famous in Japan?

It all started in World War I, when German Karl Juchheim was captured by the Japanese army. While still a prisoner of war, Juchheim baked baumkuchen for an exhibition fair in Hiroshima in 1919.

The cake proved such as hit that when he was released, he opened his own pastry shop in Yokohama. Today, the Juchheim company is still Japan’s most famous producer of baumkuchen.

Fancy making your own baumkuchen?


At Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Tomamu, you can bake traditional baumkuchen by layering batter onto a stick and turning it over a wood fire until each layer is crisp and golden.


Your reward for all that hard work? Your own light, moist, spongy baumkuchen!



Green tea trip of discovery

14 May 2019 in Food Culture

Head to Japan’s tea-growing capital to become a green tea connoisseur – and sample the seasonal pleasure of shincha. Read more


Kanazawa cuisine

24 Jul 2019 in Food Culture

Treat your palate with a trip to one of Japan’s culinary sweet spots. Read more


The do’s and don’ts of using chopsticks

27 Dec 2017 in Food Culture

You may be a whiz with chopsticks, but do you know chopsticks etiquette? Make sure you’re not offending anyone by consulting our guide! Read more



Japanese beer: from leading lagers to speciality craft beers

05 Apr 2017 in Food Culture

You probably know Kirin, Sapporo and Asahi. But what about happoshu or Japan’s “third beer”? Learn all about the world of Japanese beer – and discover its vibrant microbrewery scene. Kanpai! Read more


Getting to know Japanese wine

10 Apr 2019 in Food Culture

Head to the Yamanashi vineyards to learn the art of pairing Japanese wine. Read more


3 must-visit wineries in Matsumoto

25 Jul 2018 in Food Culture

Matsumoto is known for its excellent wine. Discover our pick of the best! Read more

most popular articles