Tree cake header

          It was our wedding anniversary 2 weeks back . For birthdays and anniversaries , baking cake has become kind of ritual at home.. This time I was searching for a special cake for the special day.. I  bookmarked a few and then thought to check this month’s Daring Bakers challenge  . This time the challenge was layered cake . Seeing all those layers I was all this was going to be the anniversary special cake … !!!

Tree cake slice2

Baumkuchen (Tree cake)  is a kind of layered cake. It is a traditional dessert in many countries throughout Europe and is also a popular snack and dessert in Japan. The characteristic rings that appear when sliced resemble tree rings, and give the cake its German name, Baumkuchen, which literally translates to “tree cake” – Source Wikipedia

Tree cake collageI had seen pictures of the layered cake on the net before and had always thought that all those layers were made by baking a cake and slicing the cake into thin layers. 🙂  As I am not much expert in slicing cakes evenly , I never tried to make them. Only after seeing the Daring Bakers challenge, did I realise that the layers are done while baking itself. Easier than slicing evenly was my first thought.

Tree cake collage2

 But after searching the net about the tree cake, I realised there was a glitch.. each layer should be baked and browned by 4 – 6 min. Some sources suggested using the broiler option in the oven, or using the upper gas flame if using cooking range oven . I initially tried to bake the first layer at 230 C in the cooking range oven . But after 4 minutes, the cake wasn’t showing any sign of browning. I kind of panicked a bit  , what if the layers are not going to come well defined.. .. I switched off the lower gas flame and turned on  the upper gas flame in the oven . after few minutes the batter started to get a light brown colour.  Relief !!! I kept the same setting for the rest of the cake , each layer took about 5 minutes to get browned.

Tree cake final

After every 3 layers spread an even layer of apricot jam. This will make the cake more soft and moist. The whole baking takes about 2 hrs and you need to be constantly checking the cake, to see that the layers are not over browned. For the final layers, the baking time will become lesser. The last 2 layers took only 3 min in my case. The process is not complicated, but you need to know your oven well !!!

Tree cake slice

The January 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Francijn of “Koken in de Brouwerij”. She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).


  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: medium
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TREE CAKE (Baumkuchen)


For the Cake Batter

  • Large eggs (room temperature) – 6
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (120 gm)
  • Marzipan – 2/3 cup (150 gm)
  • Softened Unsalted Butter –  200 gm
  • Confectioner’s (Icing) sugar -3/4 cup (100 gm)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1 package) (8 grams) vanilla sugar
  • All-purpose (plain) flour (sifted) – 2/3 cup (100 gm)
  • Apricot jam

For the Glaze ( I got the recipe from here )

  • Butter – 6 tbsp
  • Light corn syrup – 2 tbsp
  • Semisweet chocolate , chopped – 6oz


  1. Preheat your oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8 or turn on the upper gas flame in the oven.
  2. Grease your cake tin .
  3. Divide the eggs. Beat the egg whites with the salt until nearly stiff, add the sugar and beat until really stiff.
  4. Crumble finely the marzipan. Beat it with the softened butter, confectioner’s (icing) sugar until soft and creamy.
  5. Add the egg yolks one by one and beat well between each addition.
  6. Add the stiff egg whites and flour and gently fold it into the batter. Trying not to lose too much air.
  7. Smear 1 cup of the batter on the bottom of the pan, keep the sides of the pan clean, and bake for (about) 4 minutes in the oven, until it is cooked and brown.
  8. Take the pan out of the oven, smear the next portion of batter carefully over the first, and bake for another 4 minutes or until cooked and brown.
  9. After every 3 layers, spread an even layer of apricot jam.
  10. Repeat until all batter is used. (If you need to flatten a bubble insert a tooth pick or similar to deflate the bubble.)
  11. Let the cake cool down for a few minutes, take it out of the pan and let the cake cool completely on a wired rack.
  12. Heat the jam a little, pass it through a sieve. Cover the cake with the jam and let it cool.
  13. To make the glaze  heat  a small sauce pan on medium-low heat. Melt butter in pan then add chocolate and corn syrup. Stir continuously to keep from burning. Mix well
  14.  Pour chocolate glaze over cake and spread evenly with a spatula. Glaze will set as it cools.

Tree cake raspberry

Tree cake fb


Nazook – Daring Baker’s Challenge

Bogged down by flu and backpain.. Result – A very late Daring Bakers Challenge post. But I sooo much loved  the Nazook – an Armenian flaky pastry with a sweet filling –  that I had to post it.

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

I was hearing the name Nazook for the first time and after seeing the wonderful reviews in the Daring Bakers forum , decided to give it a try.. and am glad that I did!!! The dough making part is easy – the interesting thing is the addition of sour cream . One mistake I did was I forgot  to refrigerate the dough, which made it loosen a bit more than it was supposed to be.. Adding a bit more flour helped to handle the dough. But the second time I made it (yes, I loved this pastry so much that I made a second batch ) the refrigerated dough was easy to work with and the pastry looked a bit more perfect.

While the Nazook was in the oven hubby came back from office and said the house smelled like a bakery !!! And he was getting impatient with my photo session , so finally suggested – why don’t you take a snap showing me having one of these?? 🙂 So I went on clicking while he could have a piece , without having to wait for my never ending photo session 🙂

Kids have been asking to bake something for them with chocolate for quite some time. I wanted to try the filling with some pistachios but keeping the kids’ request in mind, made half of the batch with chocolate chips… And yes, they too loved the Nazook and the pastry disappeared quickly 🙂

Though the recipe looks like lengthy process  – it is quite easy to make these.. and the dough is easy to work with (just don’t forget the refrigerating part).. So go ahead and try these , I am sure you will love them !!!


Yields 40 pieces

Pastry dough

  • 3 cups  all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  • 2½ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml)  sour cream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter (room temperature)


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) softened butter (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract


  • 1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)


Make the Pastry Dough
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
2. Add the dry yeast, and mix it in.
3. Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.
4. Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough.
5. If using a standing mixer, switch to a dough hook. If making manually, continue to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

Make the filling
7. Mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract.
9. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

Make the nazook
10. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.
11. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
12. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
13. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.
14. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges.
15. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.
16. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
17. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.
18. Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
19. Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.
20. Allow to cool and enjoy!


Last week we had our college batch reunion…A small gathering of 20 friends and their families .. Friends seeing each other after a gap of 12 long years.. The excitement and fervor .. Catching up with old times, filling in the details.. Had  a really great evening. And I’m still in that blissful state after seeing faces that were part of life years ago… And from the facebook comments flowing in , I can feel that I am not the only one in this euphoric state.. ‘ Let’s have more get togethers ’ is the mantra now.. 🙂

And another thing that I would love to mention is –  thank you from the bottom of the heart to my friends for all their appreciation and support to this blog.. Thank You guys, your words mean a lot to me and motivate me to keep going..

So back to the recipe… This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was Baklawa... “Baklawa  is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey” – Wikipidea

I was really intimidated after seeing the challenge for this month.. Initially I was not sure how rolling out the dough will turn out, but I was quite surprised to see that the dough was really silky soft and had no problem in rolling it out super thin (though I had minor rips in the dough, it really didn’t matter in the end product..) … What I did falter though was on the sweetness of the Baklawa.. Hubby and me are  not fond of too much sweetness in the Baklawas. Knowing that, I should have reduced the amount of sugar syrup than mentioned in the recipe.. hmm, next time should keep that in mind.. But when I served them to my Baklawa loving friends, they mentioned that these are better than those bought from the bakery… hmm… Music to the ears… 🙂 .

But I must say this recipe is a keeper.. I wouldn’t have ventured to preparing Baklawas starting from the dough had it  not been for the Daring Bakers.. Thank You Erica for this wonderful challenge.. I really enjoyed making them..

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

Phyllo Dough:

To fill a 8” x 5” baking dish.


  • 1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (185 gm/6½ oz) unbleached all purpose (plain) flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (¾ gm) salt
  • 1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) cider vinegar, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)


  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt.
  2. Mix with paddle attachment.
  3. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
  4. Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water
  5. Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the   counter a few times during the kneading process.
  7. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil
  8. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best ( I let mine rest overnight)

Rolling your Phyllo

  1. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
  2.  Be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour.
  3. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.
  4. Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice.
  5. When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just helps make it that much thinner. Roll out your dough until it is transparent. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store, it is made by machine
  6. Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flour well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not try out.

Baklava Recipe


For the syrup:

  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey (I used only 1 cup)
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
  •  a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove

When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot.


1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved

2. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.

3. Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 1 (5-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) blanched almonds
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) raw or roasted walnuts
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
  • phyllo dough (see recipe above)


1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

2. Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside

3. Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan

4. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet

5. Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it’s not needed)

6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

7. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times

8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

9. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times

10. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

11. Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better.

12. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.

13. With a Sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can’t cut all the ways through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 9×9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge

14. Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)

15. When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring. Over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava

Next morning all syrup is absorbed

16. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup.

17. Serve at room temperature


Yeasted Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

This was my first Daring Baker challenge. To be honest I was nervous as I read through the challenge , unsure whether it would come out well…  For a few days I kept on going through the recipe and the discussion forum where the fellow Daring Bakers had posted their successful results…  Well , after a few days I summoned up the courage to get going.. The filling for the coffee cake could be anything of our choice and I decided it would be pistachios for mine , as they would complement the chocochips in taste and visual appeal 🙂 …

As I was rolling out the first meringue, I thought of adding dates to the second coffee cake along with  the pista and nuts… again I was not sure how it would turn out, but went ahead with my instinct..

Apart from the  minor mishap of filling the meringue till the end of the rolled dough which made it a bit difficult in joining the ends together and keeping away the over enthusiastic kids from the chocolate filled dough kept for rising 🙂  the rest of the process went smoothly …

And the coffee cakes looked beautiful and was soft in texture :)… The kids loved the pista and chocochips version… I loved the dates with the chocolate…Hubby dear thought it was from the bakery 🙂 .. hmm all in all, it was worth the effort .. Thank you Daring Bakers for giving this wonderful challenge… and to my bro once again for the beautiful snaps in this post…

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough:

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:

1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pistachios
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

For the dates paste in filling : (for 1 coffee cake)

10 dates pitted and chopped
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup water
1-2 tbsp sugar

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes


Prepare the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.

With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling .

For the dates paste : Heat a pan and add 1 tbsp of butter. When it melts add the pitted and chopped dates. Add 1/4 cup water and let it boil. Stir till the dates get mashed. Add 1-2 tbsp of sugar depending on your taste.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of  the chopped pistachios and half of the chocolate chips of the filling of choice evenly over the meringue

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.