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!



“Look in the garbage”: an interview with chef Hamada

01 Sep 2017 in Food Culture

A winner of the Bronze Bocuse d’Or, Noriyuki Hamada is reputed for his gastronomic inventiveness. The chef of HOSHINOYA Tokyo shares his unique vision. Read more


Why are Japanese knives among the best in the world?

27 Jan 2017 in Food Culture

It’s no surprise that Japanese knives are prized by the world’s top chefs: they’re razor-sharp, pinpoint-precise – and, in the right hands, they can do some incredible things! Read more


Kaiseki cuisine: an unforgettable experience of Japanese gastronomy

29 Sep 2016 in Food Culture

Kaiseki cuisine is one-of-a-kind in the world, bringing together delicate table dressing, quality products, fine culinary techniques and sensory experiences. Discover the composition of this magical and masterful Japanese gustatory symphony... Read more



Agritourism experience

29 Aug 2019 in Food Culture

Enjoy the spoils of nature in rural Japan. 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


Savouring the snow crab

25 Jan 2019 in Food Culture

Prized as one of winter’s choice treats, the Japanese snow crab is a must for seafood fans! Read more

most popular articles